February 22, 2013

Ski Die Mondshatten

Moon shadows on the snow of Rendezvous Peak appealed to our curiosity, and drew us up the skin track to the summit where we discovered a moonlit view of the magnificent Chugach.  Catching our breath in the rare still air at the Rendezvous summit where the normal bluster encourages a quick transition, we surveyed the winter night panorama from the mountaintop in no hurry to ski down.

These few moments of awestruck existence seemed to slow the passage of time in an alternative dimension of shadowy contrasts until responsibilities incongruent with late night powder runs awakened us from the dream.  We skied from the summit.  With an unlit headlamp, I found soft snow and contentment skiing back down, chasing moon shadows.

February 17, 2013

Fresno Mine

The Summit Lake region of the Kenai Peninsula treated DP, Nathan and yours truly to epic storm skiing.  Backcountry storm skiing can be too risky if low visibility obscures the overhead avalanche hazard, but today had just enough viz for fantastic laps on the northeast flank of Colorado Mountain, near Fresno Mine.  
Terrific snow, great terrain, and top crew came together for a fantastic day to remember; and we only scratched the surface of one of several Summit Lake massifs.

February 16, 2013

South Fork, North Bowl

Didn't get shot, that was good.  And skied a lot of powder, that was better.

A dozen skiers, 2 ptarmigan hunters and yours truly found cold smokey snow in the North Bowl area above the South Fork trail head of Chugach State Park.

The ptarmigan hunters apologized about firing in my direction, and I actually was oblivious of 22 caliber rifle rounds buzzing by.  No harm, no foul.  In a most polite way, the feminine half of the hunting pair said that just too many people come there these days, and that they can't shoot where they want.  I replied that I've skied there for 25 years and never got shot; lucky, I guess.

Breezy (10-30 mph) and cold (5-10F) all day.  Light and dry Chugach fluff was laying in the gulleys, and rimey wind pack was barely covering the ridges.  A cornice is building on the North Bowl summit. Skiing was excellent on lee slopes.

February 10, 2013

October in February

The snow pack feels like October in February, the leanest season I can remember.  But, main trail skiing is fair on Wolverine and Near Point Trails of Chugach State Park, but off trail is not recommended.  There are a few rocks on the Wolverine Peak Trail.  Snow transitions from warm and sticky to cooler and drier at 1700 ft elevation.

February 3, 2013

Government Peak Tour

The Government Peak area has superb skiability.  With a pleasant skinning approach through cottonwood, alder and willow from the Hatcher Pass Road mile 11 sledding parking lot, and several alpine bowls with lines from the mellow to the extreme, its a terrific place for all types of skiers and riders from beginners to experts.

There was a network of uptracks on 4068 today with countless options for lines back down.  The popular southeast face of 4068 was pretty tracked out today, but finding the untracked experience was easy.
Red Up, Blue Down
Peak 4585 was my objective, but clouds obscured the summit in the flat light.  Visibility elsewhere was OK and a handful of tracks were quite helpful in descending the obscure fall line.  There was a slightly rain crust about 300 feet vertical above the parking area, but from there up, the boot top snow was soft and fluffy.  I found the best quality snow on the more northerly aspect of Frostbite.

It was snowing when I left at 4 p.m.

February 2, 2013

Arctic Valley Opening

A silly microcontroversy has brewed on the local skiers' internet forum regarding the name of one of our local gems in Chugach State Park - is it Arctic Valley, Alpenglow, or Alpenglow at Arctic Valley?  Skipping the history of this place name, the current official version seems like a good compromise:  Arctic Valley Ski Area on Arctic Valley Road with the fantastic Alpenglow Lodge.  Regardless of what one calls it, this place has exceptional alpine access and it has an extraordinary orientation to catch mesmerizing alpenglow in the setting sun.  Winds often work Arctic Valley snow pack, but local powder connoisseurs know where to find the fluff there.  Opening day for the lifts was Feb. 2, and it was good to see the place running.

Yours truly didn't ride the lifts, but instead skinned up to Rendezvous Peak and back up to Mount Gordon Lyon.  Snow coverage was good in the gulleys, snow quality was OK, and the brews in the Alpenglow Lodge were sumptuous!  I truly appreciate the volunteers that keep the place going.

Though, I find the position of the ski club regarding backcountry skiers and other self-propelled folks inconsistent with the mission of the club, and I believe they may be overstepping the legal boundary of the area within Chugach State Park with their ski area signs extending north along the Rendezvous Peak Trail.  According to the Chugach State Park Access Plan draft, the ski area lease northernmost limit is an east-west line very close to the summit of Rendezvous Peak.  Maybe a Chugach State Park expert like Gopher can set the record straight.
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