May 31, 2014

Susitna Rainbow

Yours truly witnessed the annual metamorphasis of Johnny Rocketship to Johnny Master Angler in waters that originated as powder in the Talkeetnas. Was it possible that the waters we waded were a continuum of the powder we skied?
The Susitna Valley is home to some beautiful fish, some call it the Leopard Rainbow.

Johnny Angler tempted the fish with what appeared to be the perfect morsel. These fish had a lot of energy and the swift water provided plenty of power to help them put up a fair fight. The 'bows were not worse for the wear as they returned to their lairs to lie in wait, ready to pounce on unlucky smolt migrating to the sea.


May 16, 2014

Spring Time in the Talkeetnas

Hanging out on Hatch Peak on May 16. We found a few gloppy, hollow spots that felt like there was no bottom. But on the right aspect, we skied creamy corn.
 
Seven other corn seekers joined Kruser and yours truly on sunny Hatch Peak. We had just enough breeze to be perfectly comfortable.






February 23, 2014

South Fork to Ship Creek

Via Rendezvous Ridge in Chugach State Park.  This great park has countless options for ski trips, but Arctic Valley-to-Indian is perhaps the classic winter ski trip, about 24 miles end-to-end from Arctic Valley Road to Indian. Several variations of the classic have been skied, but skiing to Indian from the South Fork Trailhead is a dream route I've pondered while skiing along Ship Creek Valley Trail. Rendy Ridge from 3200 ft has beautiful lines down to the valley floor at 1300 ft elevation. I took one step closer to the dream route, and explored the route from Rendy Ridge down to Ship Creek and back to South Fork.
Conditions were excellent on fixed heel alpine touring skis (102 mm at waist, K2 Coomback), and would have been enjoyable and challenging with my free heel touring set up (68 mm at waist, Fischer Outtabounds 88 Waxbase). There was a firm base in most areas with 8 to 12" of powder on top. The really great thing about the route was its lack of bushwhacking and deadfall.

I toured up to about 3800 feet to ski the Swiss Bowl powder, somewhat higher than one needs to ascend to access Ship Creek from South Fork. After such a pleasant trip down the mountain, I was almost surprised to stumble onto the Arctic Valley-to-Indian ski trail. I saw a couple of skiers on the valley trail, and about 6 sets of tracks.
Ship Creek
Ship Creek had enough ice and snow that finding bridges would be likely, though there was also substantial open water.

My route started from the South Fork Trailhead, and took me toward Symphony Lake, then up to Rendezvous Ridge, according to the sign.
On prior trips there, skiers up on 'Rendezvous Ridge' have told me this area is named Swiss Bowl, adopted on my route maps. Wouldn't it be great to have an organization that creates maps with backcountry ski trip routes with commonly accepted place names? Advocates for quiet backcountry pursuits? Provides additional support for snow science and safety?