February 28, 2009

Anchorage Powder (Ski) Club

Join the powder club! Arctic Valley was still hatching untracked lines at 4 p.m. Snowing and blowing, low visibility. But, visibility is over rated. Anchorage Ski Club is a great organization and the Arctic Valley ski area is a fine local ski hill.

Charter Powder Club members: Kruser & Markman at Arctic Valley Chair 2 Station

February 27, 2009

Magical Mystery Tour at Arctic Valley

Roll up, roll up for the mystery tour. Roll up!
The Arctic-ski Mystery Tour is waiting to take you away.

It's a mystery to me why Arctic Valley doesn't attract more skiers. Lack of skiers is OK. This Chugach State Park jewel is a great get-away from the work-a-day world. I looked out my downtown office window at Arctic Valley; checking the weather there, and a half hour later I was skiing up the same valley.

There was 2-3" of slightly wind-licked fresh on a wind-packed base, and there was a groomed trail up Toklat Creek to the saddle between Rendezvous and Mount Gordon Lyon. It was a nice evening tour to get the heart pumping and enjoy a few turns.

February 22, 2009

Bowls of The Pinnacle

More sunshine, more powder.

Toured from the Independence Mine winter parking area to the bowls below The Pinnacle, west and south. Hatcher Pass area was buzzing with snow machines and skiers and gapers, but the bowls above Independence Mine were quiet and serene with a lone skier.

Microdot North Face, looking south.

South facing slopes are starting to release. North facing slopes are smokey. All aspects skied like a dream.

Really wanted to drop down to the Lac du Microdot from the side opposite Microdot, but south facing, sunny side slopes were naturally releasing as evidenced by the fan on the lake in the sunshine. Oh well, north facing smokey shadows had to suffice.

February 21, 2009

Government Peak

The lower parking area on the Hatcher Pass Road has an exceptional access to the Government Peak area. The trail, flagged with surveyor's tape, is easy to follow to the ridge line. Your's truly met JOATMON at the 4068' peak. We made it up to peak 4600 and enjoyed the sunny skies with calm winds.

JOATMON cranking turns in the powder and the sunshine. 6" fresh (settled) on a soft base.

A party of four skiers were involved in a sobering slide off the southeast side of Hatch, on the opposite side from April Bowl. The four survived, but an observer reported that one (or more) required rescue. If so, the party apparently self rescued the buried skier(s). The four little black dots below are the party of four.
One last lap.

February 20, 2009

Peak 3 & Why I like AT

Carvable sastrugi.

Telemark and rugged touring systems are essential for the complete skiers' quiver, but AT surely has its place on days like today on Peak 3. AT was very helpful today, but it was not the ultimate gear.

Crampons would have been the ticket today on Peak 3 (plus perhaps an ice axe). I did my best to dig my edges in on the ascent, but still I fell and slid on the icy snow at the summit. Semi-controlled sliding on my $&& was a little unsettling, knowing that sharp rockage lay below. No permanent damage resulted in my little fall, mainly a bruised ego.

Peak 3 was blustery with hard snow, but I still loved it. Which philosopher asked if to feel pleasure, one must feel pain? Peak 3 was painful this afternoon with what felt like 60 mph winds and very hard, icy conditions. But there were spindrifted places to make soft turns and it was enjoyable, even with a minor escapade.

February 15, 2009

Mile 49 - Seward Highway

Milepost 49 on the Seward Highway has a little pull out near a well-used gravel pit. Jesse, Brian, & J-Rock accompanied yours truly to the south flanks of Manitoba from the Mile 49 pull out. I have always used the much larger pull out at Milepost 48 to access Manitoba, and it turns out that the Mills Creek bridge is about the same distance from either spot. We toured to highest glades on Manitoba and dropped down the south facing slopes to find great snow. It was blowing and white in the alpine, so we stayed in the trees & alders. Getting a little bored, the others left for home after a couple of laps.

I stayed for another lap and contemplated skiing the west side of the highway opposite of Manitoba. I had considered the west side when we started in the morning, but one of our party left his beacon at home, and the west side is somewhat steeper than the reliably safe, low angle Manitoba.

On the way back from Manitoba's south flank, I met a fellow at the Mills Creek bridge looking for his buddies. I hadn't seen his friends. But, we skied to Mile 49 together as his car was parked there, too. We simultaneously arrived back at Mile 49 with a couple of skers coming down from the west side of the highway. They had a note for the windshield of the "blue car" which happed to belong to Brett, my new ski partner. The note said his buddies were skiing the west side, and Brett decided to go up and meet them. I went along for the adventure. The west side had great skiing, 8" fluff on a soft base up high with a firmer base lower near the highway, and I enjoyed skiing another hill for the first time.

After the mile and a half shuffle to the base of Manitoba, the virtually zero approach of Mile 49 west side was welcoming. Walk across the highway, put on your skis, and start skinning up. Manitoba is a very pleasant tour, and it's also suited to lighter systems than the AT set-up I used today. My Fischer Outtabounds (88-68-78 mm) with the Salomon X-ADV 8 boot/binding system works really well on Manitoba.

5:30 pm 15-Feb
Mile 49 Seward Highway west side
Looking down (east) on the gravel pit

February 14, 2009

Alyeska Valentine

Alyeska was in its typical mid-winter condition with a nice little storm brewing, blowing in the tracks between runs. The Knuckles area of the North Face was a real pleasure. Skied with most of the usual suspects - they all enjoyed the snow.

February 8, 2009

Peak Five - Chugach State Park

Canyon Road is the place for a day tripper short on time. Just beyond Upper DeArmoun, Canyon Road awaits the quick tripper.

Dr. Snow needed some exercise, so off we went to the high point they called Peak 5. Chugach State Park rangers led the way. The rangers said they were keeping us safe (sanding the road would be a better use of state park $). Doc got his exercise and we got our powder ... a taste anyway. Although the snow didn't make the upper quartile on the Jack scale, it was a quite enjoyable afternoon.

Dust on crust doesn't quite describe the conditions. It was a an inch of fluff, or two or three, on wind pack. It was worth the trip; it is a short trip after all. It's a worthy classic Anchorage Front Range experience. Another 6" will make Canyon Road a must ski.

February 7, 2009

Anchorage Ski Club

Join it! Help keep Arctic Valley operating and enjoy the alpine country afforded by this exceptional community ski area.

Skiing today was very good under sunny skies. A little breezy, but nothing that an extra layer didn't solve. Untracked lines were still available at 3:30 p.m. when I had to make an appointment.

Met up with Kruser, Markman, Turk and Alex for some sunny skiing on great soft pack and untracked powder.


February 6, 2009

Hiland South Fork from Gordon Lyon

From downtown, Arctic Valley looked like a white out. Even with the looming whiteout, the fresh snow this morning held a promise of some nice turns. A short day at the office and off to the mountain!

The place was deserted save Markman & Cameron who were maintaining the long chair lift Arctic Valley; moving the chairs along the cable a few inches to prevent wire fatigue and embrittlement.

Expecting low visibility, it was a pleasant surprise when the clouds and fog just disappeared as I changed into my AT boots. After three laps on the front side, I noticed some nice snow on the northeast face of Gordon Lyon - the backside that flows down to the South Fork of Eagle River.

It was a nice fall line toward Hiland Road on the South Fork. There was 4" of low density snow on a wind packed base. The base varied from soft to breakable to super hard and icy, but the fresh on top made it worthwhile and worthy of 5 laps (only one on the backside).

Upper reaches of Gordon Lyon's northeast aspect

Lower half of back side line.

Last line back to the car on the front side.