July 19, 2008

Crow Pass 2008 Raven-Milk

Kruser and Jack, suffering from the rainy days blahs, took a chance and hiked up the Crow Pass Trail with skis in tow. The duo started under the cloudy, foggy skies we've endured for the past couple of weeks.

The clouds were still with us at the Crow Creek Cabin. Still, we hoped for the best.

We continued on and mounted Raven Glacier just around the corner and started up.

We entered the white room with black curtains...
Slogging up toward the Raven Headwall, it didn't look great, but we weren't totally disoriented. So we continued.

Kruser was not amused by Alaska Jack's rendition of Clapton's [Cream] White Room:
In the white room with black curtains deep crevasses
Deep crevasses wait to eat you, you will die
Why? Why? Why?
We will ski in this place where the sun never shines.
Ski in this place where the shadows run from themselves.

And the mountain god smiled upon us and created an opening in the clouds as we approached Raven Knoll.

Fresh snow at 4800' el. Does the new season start at the solstice, or does it start when you ski new snow, or does it start whenever Kruse says is starts? Anyway you look at it, the new season is here!

And as Kruser so eloquently yells it, "It's NEVER OVER!" Having skied every month for the past 22 years - since 1986! He's earned the right. This trip was his 4th ski day in July 2008 - 262 straight months, SICK.

Shadows were a welcome sight after meandering up the mile-wide Raven! And, just in time for the descent!

Blue ice? Stem christie, no problem.
Mountain goats are common in the Crow Pass area, especially on the Milk Glacier side of Jewel and Barnes Mountains. Here are a couple of curious critters on the east face of Jewel. I heard them before I saw them. They were kicking off rock fall.

Milking the Milk.

The dismount from the Milk Gl. is crucial. If you do this trip, be sure to make the saddle between Barnes and Jewel Mtns.

The Barnes-Jewel saddle is really not visible from above due to a lateral moraine.

In more than 20 years since I first skied the Milk, this is the first time I've found snow on the lateral morraine at the Milk dismount.

Snow remained on the front side of the Barnes-Jewel saddle, so we skied it - all the way to the high traverse Crow Pass Trail.

Snow on the 'front side' was a special treat that we experienced for the first time in summer conditions.

One last gaze ...

Raven-Milk Loop - put it on your list.

July 9, 2008

Frank Rome

Frank Rome taught me a lot, including how to ski, a little more than 26 seasons back. He was as energizing as he was energetic. I was very, very fortunate to have enjoyed his company those many seasons ago.

Frank had been a patroller at Arapahoe Basin and he was an exceptional outdoorsman. Always fit, he was a go, go guy. We worked together at Prudhoe Bay, and as a young man new to the north country, I yearned to ride the boards like Frank.

Frank was a great skier, and I was unskilled, but young and enthusiastic. He was a captivating story-teller and so fun to be around, and I was a bumpkin, but happy to listen and absorb it all. And, he was the perfect coach - 18 years my elder, but really cool, and I was the junior, the earnest student.

When I think of Frank, I think of his two sons, Neil & Nick, his lovely wife, Annemarie and how Frank loved life.

Now, Frank is gone, and I am ...
feeling sad for losing Frank,
regretting that I let all those years go by without contacting my skimeister,
and, maybe feeling a little sorry for myself, because as he taught me so well, this wonderful life on earth is a precious gift, and Frank's passing is a sad reminder that this wonderful gift is finite for all of us.