December 27, 2013

All About the Up

Skin up, ski down. With about 95% of the backcountry skiing time spent on the uphill part, we should enjoy it. The ski down is exhilarating, but the up track takes a long time. Trudging up the ski track seems to make the down ski seem so much better. The key for me to enjoy the up, is skining up at a pace maintainable for hours. So that I can...
Look at the trail...
Trail Unbroken
The beauty of the trail is that it takes us where we must go.

See at the sights...
Anchorage, Dec. 25, 2013
Anchorage is situated in a splendid place at a northern latitude of abundant sparkling snow in wintertime, and midnight sun in summertime.

Watch the wildlife... with care!
Angry Moose
Bad picture, scary moose - I've probably seen thousands of moose in their wild environs, and I've been charged once, yesterday... She stood in the ski trail and looked at me as so many moose have - a big brown-eyed seemingly live-and-let-live herbivore. With head held high, her nose might reach seven feet and with alert ears, she is regal and beautiful. But, this one was different. She had a frosty muzzle and a nasty temperament. After watching me for a moment, she put her head down about two feet off the ground, flattened her ears, and bucked like a rodeo bronco. She reared up on her hind legs and flashed her front hooves like a boxer on a speed bag. Then she bolted directly at me.

Camera in hand and panic-stricken, I tried to ski behind a spruce tree, but tangled in a downed birch tree, and fell in the deep snow. Moose trampling must hurt, I thought, cowering among the brittle branches of the dead birch, and squeezing my eyes tightly shut.

She apparently bolted right past me and didn't stomp me to smithereens. She stopped 20 feet down the trail and looked back over her shoulder. She paused, and then pissed in the trail in a splattering stream as if to say, "this is a moose trail."

So, share your trails, avoid getting trampled, and enjoy the uptrack.

December 20, 2013

Swiss Bowl Solstice

Sometimes you gotta go to know.  As J-Rock and yours truly slogged up the South Fork Trail beyond Hiland Road, conditions above looked really boney.  Windblown snow with exposed patches of tundra seemed to promise survival skiing. As we slowly ascended, step after step, I imagined breakable crust, rocks and pain. We finally arrived at the ridge line and looked over the edge into Swiss Bowl.

Swiss Bowl is a little ways off the beaten path.  Well known by skiers, but this north-facing bowl between Ship Creek and the South Fork of Eagle River receives less pressure due to the extra mile one must slog to reach it.

Reaching Swiss Bowl today held a pleasant surprise. As Jon and I peered over the ridge cornice we saw the nice blanket of powder on the best line down toward Ship Creek. The ridge of Swiss Bowl protects its slopes from the prevailing winds and almost perfectly catches the snow fall.

Jon and I followed an existing uptrack back to the ridge between the Ship Creek and South Fork Valleys and skied a very fun line back to the South Fork trail head. Though the east-facing slopes looked awful from below, we were able to link large swaths of the slope with good coverage and good skiing.

December 15, 2013

Revelstoke, British Columbia

Early season skiing at Revelstoke is on.

Kruser and yours truly skied the Revelstoke Mountain Resort in frigid conditions, temperatures below -10F with wind.  But, that was last week - temperatures rose and snow fell. We met up with Doc, Tara, and a terrific group to heli-ski in the Selkirks and Monashees with Canadian Mountain Holidays Revelstoke. I followed up with 3 day trips ski touring with Matt Dellow east and west of Revelstoke.
Revelstoke Below the Fog
Entrance to Narnia Conifers

RMR - a sweet spot to hang
Hill was slightly boney in a couple of places
Revelstoke from the other side of the Columbia

Diane and Grey
Dad and Daughter



Yours Truly



December 1, 2013

Hatcher Pass Touring and Turning

Hatcher Pass skiing has been incredibly good over the past several days and skiers have been pushing lines to awesome levels. We skied the northern-most areas of the area between Goldcord and The Pinnacle.

November 29, 2013

Goldcord Peak

With the thermometer registering below zero Fahrenheit, rallying in the morning darkness of late November seemed too ambitious. As I contemplated the alternatives of staying in bed and warmly dozing in the darkness, or getting up and dressing in 3 or 4 layers for a subzero ski trip, the memory of deep snow at Hatcher Pass took hold of my consciousness.
Yours Truly with Goldcord Peak Backdrop
Near Goldcord Peak Summit
Lap 2

Should we call the day after Thanksgiving, white Friday - a day to ski?

We made it to Goldcord Peak as a 6-man rally.  We skied incredibly good snow on the west aspect and the south aspect.
J-Rock Enjoying the View Atop Goldcord Peak

Photocredits:  Kruser & Yours Truly