November 23, 2014

2014 Late Start to Tincan Winter

Alaska's most popular backcountry skiing (and boot packing) destination must be Tincan Ridge at Turnagain Pass. Rainy weather at the road and stormy in the alpine did not dissuade seven powder-starved souls that endured the weather and the hike.  By late November, a normal winter would have well worn ski track and boot packer track in a good snow pack from the Seward Highway through the forest and up to the alpine bowl. But 2014 snows were late, and hiking the first 300-ft vertical was required November 22.
Drizzly, Drippy FUN!
Skinning was possible just above the intersection of the Iditarod and Tincan Ridge Trails. Above timberline, Kruser, Doc and yours truly wandered around semi-lost in the alpine whiteout, but relied on our combined experience of nearly 100 seasons of skiing this mountain, plus a brief window of visibility, and persevered to our normal Tincan turnaround. The visibility window vanished for our descent, but the alpine bowl snow skied really well. Even though the vertigo-inducing whiteout had us asking ourselves if we were moving or motionless a few times, we remained upright and enjoyed the first lap so much, we returned for another.
Our Blustery Turnaround
Knuckle draggers outnumbered the skiers 4 to 3, skinners outnumbered post-holers 4 to 3, men outnumbered women 7 to 0 and humans to dogs 7 to 1.
Doc Dropping In
Kruser brought his waterproof camera and collected all of the photocredits. And he deserves all of the rallying credit as yours truly's will was wilted by the rain at the road. Thanks Kruser! Your rally call led me to powder!
Fondly recalling this route from free-heeling days with sub-70 mm wide skis at the widest ski tip, we had a terrific time on our contemporary alpine touring gear with skis exceeding 100 mm at the under-foot narrowest width. During our ascent, we imagined the way back down would be hideous. But, we enjoyed the skiing all the way down to the Iditarod Trail, and the 2" fresh snow made the hiking more tolerable than we had imagined.

While the fresh snow made our hike out a lot easier, we still managed to get muddy boots hiking across the unfrozen meadow.

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