May 10, 2009

Just Skating By

The snowpack is going fast, so Dr. Snow, Kruser & yours truly had to get it at Turnagain Pass before it is all gone. Up we trudged the sunny valley of Tincan Creek to the Spencer Glacier overlook between Kickstep Mtn and Tincan Peak.

Errantly using AT gear, and encountering skate skiers, we felt like snowshoers among skiers, asking ourselves, why?

Why did we not use the optimal gear? Well, it turned our fat gear was just fine for the tilted section, though we probably could have survived on the lightest two planks known to man. And, the last 1000 ft of vertical through mashed potatoes could well have yielded a broken skate ski or binding. But, in between, we were crying. As we shuffled along on the flats, baking in the sunshine reflector oven, those guys on skateskis probably tripled or quadrupled our speed.

On our outward leg, conditions were perfect for skating. Firm with a corn skiff on top. Our timing was not optimal for skating; leaving the car at 9:30 a.m. was an hour or two late. By the time we dropped down the south facing slope leading to the bridge on the return leg, the snowpack had totally gloppified.

Although the prior 24 hr minimum ambient temperature at Center Ridge 1800 ft el. was 34F, the clear skies and radiant cooling solidified the snowpack until about 11 a.m.


Doc at the top

Kruser on corn

Our route up Tincan Creek valley

May 4, 2009

Cinco de Mayo Proposal

Out and back from big parking area on east side of Turnagain Pass, 12-mile round trip, 3300 ft vert to Tincan Peak. Lateral distance is slightly shorter, vertical slightly greater for Kickstep.

Early start would be good to ascend in cooler temperatures. Sunburst has not seen 32F since 28-Apr (and 60F recorded May 2), and Center Ridge (1800 ft el) has not seen 32F since 26-Apr. Snowpack could be mushy, but I'm guessing it's settled and hoping it's not rotten.

Click to enlarge.