March 21, 2011

Avalanche Fatality on Hatch Peak

Jim Helling died in an avalanche on Hatch Peak on March 19, 2011, a very sad story

His partner was injured in the same slide.

Another group reported skiing the same line earlier on the same day without incident.  It can be a fine line between life and death, joy and sorrow.  Let us learn from this accident.

March 20, 2011

Party Train

Nordic Skiing Association of Anchorage resurrected the party train to Curry on a perfect day with blue skies, calm winds and mild temperatures.  Hundreds of folks packed the train with skis, snowshoes, food and beverages for the festive Anchorage-Curry day trip.  We started rolling north at 7 a.m.  

The ridges above treeline at Curry were bereft of snow, apparently vanquished by wind and sun.  After the recent drought and witnessing the bare ridges up high, we were delighted by the beautiful touring and telemarking conditions in the birch forest north and east of Curry and Deadhorse Creek.  We found a 3-foot pack of sugary snow with varying amounts of crust, occasionally thick and strong, but most often a very thin veneer that was barely perceptable on the descent.  Bettyjane, Geno, Josh, Daniela, Eruk and yours truly skinned up above the Susitna River for 2-1/2 hours and back down to the train for its 4 p.m. departure.
Deadhorse Creek Crossing

Geno Genuflecting
Yours Truly Telemarking
Yours Truly Aldermarking

Climbing the first couple of hundred feet vertical just above the valley floor was tedious, but worth the effort to reach the bench above Curry for a well deserved refreshment.
We had a wonderful 13-hour trip to Curry and back, but I have a yearing to return to Grandview.

Photocredits:  Bjane & Eruk

March 14, 2011

Ship Creek without a Paddle

Arctic Valley to Indian Ski Trail:  mountains and streams, sun and snow, skiing and friends.

Oh yea, pain and suffering.

MK, TK, BettyJ, Geno, Kruser, Doc and yours truly started our 20-mile trek with an ignominious track which failed to meet expectations of a pleasant alternative to the main trail.  With some effort, we completed the alternative track, and made our way to the valley floor on the hard fast track of Ship Creek Trail. 

'Wrongway BettyJ' went right instead of left (not a political statement) at the 5-Mile/Ship Creek Trail unmarked Y.  She kept her bearings and meandered back to the Ship Creek Trail to Indian, and we soon regrouped.
Then, BettyJ proceeded to demonstrate her prowess for freeheel skiing steep narrow trails.  While some flailed, and others walked and carried skis, she skied fast and controlled. 

Up Ship Creek we skied through forests of spruce and birch, hemlock and cottonwood toward its source in the alpine country.  Trail was smooth and skies were clear.  And ice was thick... enough. 

We had not seen snowfall in nearly four weeks, but trail conditions in the valley were excellent, and we found a nice ski track along the creek.  We were happy.
Team Outtabounds (minus TK)
Our entire party of seven were riding Fischer Outtabounds, terrific skis for the Arctic Valley-to-Indian traverse.  Our varied binding system and boot combinations all worked reasonably well, but the telemark boots/3-pin bindings with cables worked best on the steeper, icy trails. 

The Indian Creek Trail was like a luge run, icy with banked turns and very challenging in a few places.  Geno ripped it with gusto and led us to the end of the trail.  And, we all survived another A-to-I tour and very happily made it to the Indian Trailhead.
Photocredits:  TK & Kruser

March 10, 2011

Arctic to Indian Route

Alternative starts for Arctic-to-Indian.  Western line was my earlier suggestion, but anything between the western route and the dashed eastern route would probably be better than the main trail from the normal trailhead.
 Contour intervals are 20 meters. 

March 8, 2011

Armchair Traversing

Proposed variation on Bomber Traverse:  I believe this route was the 1980's classic.  It seems better to go up the Little Su and down the Pennyroyal Glacier, then up the Bomber Gl. and down Reed Lakes.  It But, wasn't the 80's standard route was up Reed Lakes and down Little Su?

March 6, 2011

Sunny South Fork Tour

We followed Eruk's ski tracks and Lucy's pawprints toward Eagle Lake on a sunny South Fork ski tour.  Eruk posted a good report on Cross-Country Alaska, a nice place to get updates on trail conditions.  Doc and I saw only two other skiers on the springlike day, and about 20 hikers and snow-shoers.  The trail is pretty well used. 

We skied a couple of hours out, and turned back shadows enveloped the upper valley.  We followed the sun.  
Cantata Peak, Calliope Mountain and Triangle Peak

The Calliope massif towers over the South Fork valley like a sentinel guarding the heart of the Chugach.

March 1, 2011

Four Letter Words




Take heart, our powder will return.