May 15, 2011

Touring in the Talkeetnas: Friendship Pass

Bettjane, Geno, & Richard
We planned on skiing Talkeetnas powder.  Touring from Hatcher Pass Lodge up through Independence, Goldcord, and High Grade to Friendship Pass with hopes of finding shady powder on the north side of Friendship Pass. 

The nice, soft snow on the north side was slightly stale, but very good skiing ... for the first ten turns.  Powder is possible in the Talkeetnas in mid-May, but we couldn't find much on May 14, 2011.  Ten turns down, the snow became a scritchy, thaw-freeze frozen, very hard crust just below the pass.  Supportable crust, but not a lot of fun.  Falling here could have yielded an 1000-ft vertical slide - warning the others, I stopped a few turns into the scritchy snow and kicked steps back up to the pass.  The crust was too hard and steep to skin, and  beneath the crust, the snow was bottomless and slow going - thankfully, Dicky came down part way and broke trail back up to the pass.

The south side of Friendship Pass had excellent corn.  We were all smiles at the bottom of the runs.
Geno's Genuflection at Friendship Pass

Well, mostly good coverage

Crusing below High Grade
We toured over to the Rock Garden and then down to Independence and back to Hatcher Pass Lodge where we visited with Hap Wurlitzer for a while.   Hap has a nice map with place names and plenty of beer and food. 
We found corn snow above the lodge, supportable almost everywhere with very few rotten spots on south facing rolls.  Touring conditions were great with good coverage and easy travel with fun descents.  We saw dozens of sunbathing ground squirrels who had burrowed up to the sunny snow surface from their long slumber.  We also saw a coyote on the hunt for them.

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