November 8, 2011


Bushwhacking with skis down an unnamed Alaskan creek through alder tangles, spruce forest, and thin snow cover, we chuckled about our choice of routes.  Not an epic, but all agreed that we'd rather not repeat it.  Little did we know that no-name creek would be a relative cake walk. 

J-Rock, Blob and yours truly enjoyed a fine day above Turnagain Pass at the Bertha Creek headwaters, a lot of people call it Superbowl.  Skinning up Taylor Creek with Viking, we listened to his musings on snow quality, aspects and lines.  Our path diverged from his trail to Magnum, and we continued to Taylor Creek Pass and Superbowl.  We weren't first up the ridge, and we were grateful for the terrific steps kicked by another pair of skiers. 
Back Up Superbowl

There was plenty of untracked powder for the ten souls I counted on the Superbowl ridgeline.  It was a thrilling adventure, but the best snow quality was somewhat lower on that aspect Viking foretold.

The combination of waning light and a sore knee convinced us to follow the Bertha Creek valley back to Highway One.  We faced the route finding dilemma:  ski a not totally unfamiliar powder fall line at our feet, or continue across the boring traverse to a very familiar, reliable descent to the car.  Of course, we took the 'powder now' route and we giggled in powder delirium.   Trail got boney about 300 ft above the road.  We skied over semi-buried brush, occasionally grasped tree branches as we traversed a steep bank above open water, and walked a little.  The pow was worth it, but we agreed that next time...

Next time came less than 24 hours later.
Down into Superbowl
Blob, mw and yours truly woke the next day to find Anchorage beautifully blanketed in a fresh foot of powder.  Stoked by the fresh, we headed to Girdwood and Max's Mountain.  Starting on the Virgin Creek Trail, we mostly booted about 1500 ft vertical through dense hemlock in 6-12" fluffy snow, and popped out into Max's glades and crotch-deep unsettled snow.   The right superlative to describe the skiing above 1500 ft el:  extraordinarily near perfect powderosity.

Ascending Max's
Max's lower elevation access on Virgin Creek Trail skis best after a thaw freeze cycle to create a hard crust over the rooty trail; add a little powder on top, and the dense hemlock forest can be a terrific descent.  But, lacking the crusty base, we opted for a route that might be more skiable.
Our descent did have more skiable vertical than the ascent.  But, the powderosity of the alpine and glades elevations was balanced at the opposite end of the spectrum by a 400 ft vertical hand-over-hand, spruce bough hanging, pack sliding, deadfall booting, alder tangling desent.  Upon reaching skiable terrain for the final 400 ft vertical, mw searched for the proper superlative for our route and asked, it that i-e or e-i in heinous?
Max's West Face
Photocredits:  J-Rock and Blob

1 comment:

Skier Boyz said...

Superbowl is looking fat!