January 31, 2010

Hi Ho Silver ... Tip!


Silvertip towers over the Six Mile Creek and Summit Lake country, and its flanks host several mines with trails also providing access to a wild place for backcountry skiers.

Dr. Snow and yours truly tried the Silvertip Creek Trail, following it for 1-1/2 miles, and then traversing up the west branch of Silvertip Creek to a beautiful bowl on Peak 4340. Doc and I ascended the east-facing bowl to the false summit just below 4340.

Peak 4340
Silvertip's little brother

Doc and I scaled the sky-line ridge on the left.

This bowl captured our imaginations. Rimey snow at the top gave way to boot top powder.

January 30, 2010

Peninsula Posse

So many choices for great snow! J-Rock reported great conditions at Pete's North; Dante reported great conditions at Summit. Nice folks down at Summit Lake tipped the balance. DP, TelePete, Peter, and lovely Gail made tracks in the sunshine. Blue skies, boot top snow, and friendly folks made for a great day on TelePete's "Raven Ridge."

I'm not sure, but I think Alex at Chugach National Forest may refer to the same location when he mentions Butcher Mountain in the avalanche report. United States Geological Survey labeled a creek nearby, "Butcher", and planted a landmark at 3072 ft el; they call it "Butch." TelePete calls it Raven Ridge.

Yours truly calls it a great line, and I'm sure the Peninsula Posse agrees!

January 24, 2010

Max Tracks

Max's Mountain overlooks Girdwood and provides a portal to some incredible ski country in southcentral Alaska. Eruk and I followed the Virgin Creek Trail from the end of Timberline Drive through the dense and steep hemlock forest up to the glade on Max's flank and on to the weather station at Max's summit (aka Baumann's bump.) The west face of Max's had ten lines on it. While Eruk and I gazed at panaroma, we saw two skiers drop down the north face of the southerly ridge above Virgin Creek. There were tracks on Little League and Big League, and we watched three people ascend Little League and ski over the ridge out of sight.
Litte League

January 23, 2010

Turnagain South

Turnagain Pass South has terrific terraine and an off-the-beaten path feel. The heart of the Turnagain Pass self-propelled zone is Tincan Ridge with Eddy's to the north and and Center Ridge and Sunburst to the south. This is the heart of Turnagain for good reason; a snow vortex exists here with incredibly deep and good snow. South has measurably less snow at the road, partly due to its lower elevation, starting at Pete's South, and including Pete's North and Lips. There's no generally defined geographic areas for Turnagain, but the boundary between the heart and the south might be Cornbiscuit.

Cornbiscuit must have 100 tracks on its south face off its mile-long ridge; a couple of the lines off 'biscuit are awe-inspiring and death-defying, truly terrifying (sorry no photos). But, those tracks suggested that the risk-takers who rode these bold lines lived to tell about it. Good on 'em!

Dante staking Pete's North

Dante, Eruk, Ethan, Pete Younger, and yours truly spent the past couple of days in a couple of combinations shredding Pete's North and Lipps. Pete's and Lips have well established trails. but are less travelled than some of the other Turnagain Pass lines.


Pete in the pow

This Pete is younger than Telemark Pete, not that Telemark Pete is old.

DP powder-focused

Who really cares about a blogger's blog, Laura?

Lone powder seeker on Pete's North

January 18, 2010

Death to Crust

Five inches of snow on the lower reaches of Near Point fell 15-Jan and almost killed the crust. The ski track skied well tonight; off track was variable. Let's hope the next storm finishes the crust for good.

January 17, 2010

Alyeska Rally

Fresh 25" cures a lot of ills. After Friday's 12", Saturday's scritchy base was nearly fully healed with 13" more over 24 hr.

Pent up powder pangs called out the masses. And, although thousands of exhuberant snow riders turned out for the excellent conditions, untracked lines in knee deep powder were still available at the end of the day.

Christmas choke was still scritchy, but the facets below were still yielding untracked lines at closing.

January 10, 2010


The Mint Glacier reigns over the valley of the Little Susitna River. Other minor glaciers in the area also feeding the Little Su were informally named by old-school Ski Kommandos as Spearmint, Doublemint, Troublemint, Managemint, and Telemint. Seems only fitting that Government Peak should be called Govmint.

Peak 4068

Lots of tracks are around, but the untracked experience is easily available. The base is variable from scritchy wind pack to soft and fluffy with a few areas of breakable, but 4" of hoary powder sits atop all base forms, and skiing is very good.

Gov'mint can be approached from a couple of different parking areas, either the Fishhook (also called Marmot) Trailhead (2700 ft el), or the parking area at Mile 11 (1500 ft el) Hatcher Pass Road. When the lower reaches are skiable, I really like the Mile 11 parking area because it reduces drive time, allows a more direct approach and avoids the busier areas further up the road.

Tracks on Marmot viewed from Gov'mint.

January 9, 2010

Campbell Tract

Campbell Tract Tour of Anchorage Trail is still in great shape for skate skiing, even with its multi-use status. Hillside ski only trail conditions are excellent. Skating Coyote Trail is workable, and a pleasant change of scenery, but it's slightly narrow for skating, hasn't been groomed, and gets a lot of fat-tired bikes and hikers.

January 8, 2010

Why Drive?

A fresh inch was worthy on Backdoor Trail from Cindy's Stuckagain Skihaus up to Chugach State Park. The park trails made me appreciate my metal edges on the trusty Fischer Outtabounds Waxbase.

With abundant foot traffic, the park trails are pretty scritchy, and fast. Near Point and Middle Fork Trails ski OK, though a little rough with frozen footsteps under the fresh inch. Though snow conditions are below average, the calm wind, quiet and sunshine made for a thoroughly enjoyable ski.

January 3, 2010

2010 Sweet Pete's North

A fresh inch according to the Chugach National Forest Avalanche Report, but more like dust on crust. Hard crust.

Pete's North was looking like a bust for the first 1000 ft el, but persistance paid off today.

The snow softened at 1600 ft el, about 1000 ft vertical above the road. The powder sweet spot was above 1900 ft el, and good up to 3200 ft el (my highest climb). It looked good even higher. Visibility was good, even with the continuous flurries and low clouds. Ridgetop winds were calm to moderate.

Crust down low was boiler plate strong and easily supported me on skis. The transition from powder to skiable crust to boiler plate occurred over a narrow elevation window, and the trip below the powder zone was cake.

January 1, 2010

Happy New Year on O'Malley Peak Trail

The Chugach Front Range above Anchorage is notoriously unreliable for snow quality, yet today surprisingly good snow could be found. Thanks to Eruk's report, I followed his tracks to the saddle on the O'Malley Peak Trail for a good run.

The trail from Glen Alps to the valley floor is rock hard, icy, and uneven. But, snow in the O'Malley Peak Trail gulley is wind-deposited spin drift, and a sharp eye can find a soft fresh line all the way to the valley floor.

An even better line was apparent in the next gully east of the O'Malley Peak Trail. I met a skier heading that way, and after viewing the line from below, regretted not joining him. Nevertheless, skiing in the sunshine on soft snow was a great way to start 2010.