Cindy's Ski Haus normally closes in late April and undergoes a white-to-green metamorphosis in May to become Cindy's Garden. But, the poor Anchorage gardeners have gone from disappointed with the lack of autumn snow and deep frost to downright sad with a May 18 snowfall worthy of a winter storm warning by the National Weather Service.
May 18, Ski Haus Deck or Garden?
The May storm brought the snow we missed last October. When it comes to snowstorms in May, polite skiers contain their exuberance around gardeners and others inured to the 230 days between the first and last snowy days of the white season. DP and yours truly waited until we were beyond earshot to whoop it up.
Shredding Arctic Valley
We made our way to Arctic Valley, the Anchorage locale that received the greatest amount of snow in the May 18 storm. The snow started falling warm and bonded well, but the last several inches of Arctic Valley fluff fell when the temperature was 12 to 18F. Rendezvous offered blower face shots all day!
Kruser and yours truly planned to ski the north side of Microdot, the little peak that rises above the Hatcher Pass Lodge that we hoped had preserved the powder on its shady slopes. It was a beautiful day with partly sunny skies over the fresh foot of snow from yesterday's storm.
Kruser in Line of Sight with The Pinnacle - Microdot to Looker's Right
We surveyed the panorama from the Microdot saddle above Goldcord Lake and discovered a natural avalanche parallel to our planned line. It likely initiated as a point release and ran about 300 vertical feet to a convex rollover where it triggered a slab hundreds of feet wide. From a distance, I estimated the crown at ~2 feet deep. The slab ran another 500 feet vertical to the lake where the debris fanned out in a 1000 ft-wide pile of dense death cookies. The snowfall the day before was wet; DP called it whale snot, an apt description. The weight of the avalanche debris impacted the lake and created a schrund-like half moon crack in the snow part way around the lake.
We re-evaluated our plan considering the recent heavy snow, natural avalanche, and two substantial whoomphing settlements we felt on the ridge. We skied down our uptrack. As I started skiing down, I wondered if our original plan could have been pulled off without incident. That is until I heard the slab avalanche I remotely triggered, and peaked at it over my shoulder as it ran beyond a convexity on the ridge, I was very happy to go down the safe way.
Kruser Ascending Microdot
The remotely triggered slab ran down the righthand slope, behind where Kruser is ascending in the photo above. Relative to the same photo, I was skiing more toward the lefthand slope in the foreground. Live to ski another day.
Today's weather was not too popular with the gardeners and most others, I guess. May 4 snow storm in Anchorage. Yours truly toured up Campbell Creek North Fork in snowy weather on the Anchorage Front Range. By the time I made it back down, the snow turned into rain.
Crossing the North Fork
And as I turned to make my way back home
The snow turned into rain.