April 28, 2009

Canine Flu

Swine flu? No, but sick as a dog. Being wretched and wracked is over. It's a wonderful life! And it's getting better all the time.

April 12, 2009

Spring Surprise: Powder on Peak 3

Peak 3 was the perfect example of the saying, "ya gotta go to know." Grey skies, brown city, breakup in Anchorage was the way it looked.

The planned title for this blog was "Peak 3, Good Workout". A few chores (needed to wait for the corn to soften), then off to Canyon Road at about 1:30 p.m. under grey skies and through a brown town. Anchorage Visitors' Bureau doesn't show many photos from April, that time when the snow pack is going and enormous brown puddles inundate every neighborhood street. But, the Chugach front range were still quite white, so there was the possibility of happy glisse.

Happy glisse it was! A fresh 4 inches on a carvable base for the upper 700 ft made a second lap irresistable. The lower slopes were corned nicely; even off trail at the road elevation wasn't too rotten.

Canyon Road is a really nice place for an afternoon jaunt. Off Upper DeArmoun, Canyon Road climbs to 1800 ft el, and its a great launching site for several southwest facing gullies that hold snow.

April 11, 2009

In the Shadow of Microdot

Shadows in the Talkeetna Mtns preserve the snow quality and quantity. Talkeetnas north facing slopes are glaciated at of 5,000 ft elevation with incredible powder from late September through early May. Lower elevations have exceptional skiing from November through April. Microdot tops out at about 4000 ft.

Microdot Apr 2009

Microdot Nov 2008

Microdot Shadow Nov 2008

Microdot shadow
Apr 2009

Ash layer slough

Marmot North Face

Apr 2009

Apr 2009

After the after

Apr 2009 Didlikama

Freeskiing Competition?

Alyeska's Freeskiing suicide competition was postponed for a day. Banning it altogether would suit me. This cultural blip is akin to an internet suicide video cam with evil-doers encouraging the poor soul to end it. Oxymoronic 'freeskiing competition', Alyeska should rid itself of it and its subjective judging, encouragement of people to take irrational risk, and cutting access to otherwise open areas for true free skiers and riders. My $ are not going to the Deathskiing Competition nor the resort that promotes it.

April 10, 2009

Springtime in Girdwood

10" fresh at the top of Alyeska's Chair 6 at opening, and the additional 6" that fell during the day was a good reason to be there. Alyeska's patrollers did a nice job getting N Face open and it was a typical terrific day in the inch-per-hour snowfall. After the N. Face red flag went up at 5 pm, our karma lifted the fog for a couple of laps on the front side, virtually untracked due to the impenetrable soup that made up seem like down for the remainder of the day.

N. Face Christmas was open and the Knuckles was waist deep. It was good to ski with CW, Doc & Turk. The untracked experience was great today.

April 9, 2009

After Work Arctic Valley

J48, Kodi the uberdog, & yours truly tested the snow at Arctic Valley. As the ski area is closed for the season, we skinned up below the lift. The snow was not great, but it was better than not skiing. We skied a few hundred verts in what they call Brandy Bowl, then traversed to the lower Rendezvous. The snow was a little better on Rondy. One lap was an adequate test.

April 5, 2009


Eddy's had perfect spring skiing today with blue skies, no wind, moderate temperatures and POWDER! After the exceptional conditions on Max's yesterday, I searched for a similar aspect and found Eddy's to be nearly parallel to the exceptional Max's line.

There is a nice trail from Eddy's lower parking area (Seward mile 72.5). This was my first time venturing to Eddy's from the lower lot. I really enjoyed this route; at about 400 ft el., it is 300 ft vert lower than the other access (Seward mile 71.2), but it has great cover at this time of year and the trail is easy to follow.

The summit had not been skied since the last storm, and an apparent natural avalanche had run a few hundred vertical feet in the summit bowl. So, it was with trepidation I skinned to the summit from the north ridge. Tried the south ridge, but it just didn't feel right, so I made a short run and made my way over the north ridge.
Eddy's bowl from the north ridge.

Eddy's aspect proved to be a match with Max's

Premium POWDER!

Thanks to the two ladies who helped steer me to the powder!

There were about 8 skiers including yours truly on Eddy's today. The untracked experience was easy to find.

Eddy's glades

April 4, 2009

New Year's to Max's

Kruser, Dr. Snow, TK Snow, and yours truly covered the extremities of our favorite ski resort, the very best ski resort at the 61st parallel, and the world's only ski resort overlooking the Turnagain Arm of Cook Inlet. Today we skied only Max's and New Year's the extreme skiers' left and extreme skiers' right lines at Girdwood's best ski area. Both had great snow with lots of untracked lines.

Max's had an arduous, uphill traverse, but no complaints - it kept the traffic down and the powder pure. Max's offers excellent glades and meadows, with some nice steeps. Max's open meadows are a nice contrast to the rock-walled New Year's Chute.

New Year's Chute is a real treat because it's not often open due to it's avalanche hazard; it's a steep, narrow chute that gathers an incredible amount of snow at its starting zone. Max's is open to skiing from the lifts a little more often, but definitely not the norm. New Year's is a great line, the type that I wouldn't dare in the backcountry. Its steep pitch is sustained and jogs, not a good place to fall. And tooday both Max's and New Year's had fabulous conditions!

Friends, sunshine and powder - a great combination.

April 3, 2009

The Aspect Game

Yours truly played the aspect game at Arctic Valley. Searching for good snow was finally fruitful, but it took some time. If at first you don't succeed, ...

Arctic Valley slopes with any hint of a southerly aspect were crustified, and the north facing slopes of Gordon Lyon were windswept.

Rendezvous looked sweet in the swale about 1/3 of the way down from the summit. But, the ski club prefers people not skin to that area because it's within their ski area.

So, to the south end of the ski area I went.

Will the gap in the alders go through?

Yet, a narrower gap

Just wide enough.

Ash is about 3" below the surface.

April 2, 2009

A Fresh Foot

A fresh foot, and I didn't ski it...
yet. Falling 4 days ago, the spring weather has taken its toll. Afterall, it is breakup.

Breakup is that time of year when the days become longer than the nights. The aperture of great snow begins its gradual reduction. Starting at the south and working its way east and west like hands on a clock slowly rotating in opposite directions toward the north, the freeze-thaw crust evolves toward corn. And Breakup is when Anchortown transforms from white to green, passing through brown.

My colleague reported great conditions on Peak 3 a couple of days ago. He asked if it was my solitary tracks on Wolverine and Near Point. Alas, it was not. Crying over unskied powder will never create the perfect climb, the perfect line, the perfect day.

So, get it when it's there.