November 23, 2015

Storm Skiing

Seattle Creek presently has some sweet snow and is getting more. It also has some variable 'upside down' snow with dense wind pack on blower powder, some thin areas not quite covering the tundra, and windboard. Conditions are best described as: variable, but if a skier is lucky or savvy enough to find the sweet snow, there is incredibly good skiing.

Kruser and yours truly endured one line with less than perfect snow, but we also found perfection in a storm at Seattle Creek.

 
 

November 11, 2015

Backdoor Trail Open for 2015 / 2016

Dylan and yours truly officially opened Backdoor Trail for 2015 / 2016! Trail is skied-in and could last until April or May. First time little ski buddy was happy on skis, and was good for one ascent.
 
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There are surface lifts, chair lifts, and Papa lifts. Papa held up for 5 laps. Dylan was ready for more but Papa was overheated.
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Down the hill!
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First Day Skiing!
 
Videographer: Yaya


November 9, 2015

Seattle Creek

Seattle Ridge above Turnagain Pass can be a skier's paradise early season before the sleds invade. Snow machines are always prohibited from the east side of the highway, but snow machines are allowed on the west side of the highway after sufficient snowpack develops. After the sleds are allowed, the west side of the Seward Highway can be noisy, smelly, and not super friendly to self-propelled skiers, but usually before the area opens to snow machining there is a good window with good skiing.
There were a few rocks, but trading a little p-tex for a lot of powder was a good deal.
Why is Jonny Rocketship Smiling?
He felt the sunshine and knew the snow would be terrific on the descent.



After climbing up from the highway trailhead, we spent all day lapping the Main Bowl above Seattle Creek on the backside from the road. We scraped a rock or two on the backside, but mostly found a good snowpack for skiing with excellent quality. On the frontside run back to the trailhead where the snowpack is typically thinner, I did find a rock garden with only about 6" snow coverage. Being watchful of the terrain and finding the swales with the deeper snow make the run back to the car more enjoyable.

November 7, 2015

Tin Can Infantry

Tincan Mountain, a skiers' place. Good snow in November is a good bet at Tincan, the most popular backcountry ski touring area in southcentral Alaska. Exceptional snow quality, sunny skies, and mostly calm wind put smiles on every Tincan skier's face on Nov. 7, 2015.
Old School Route
With so many people embarking from the 'normal' Tincan trailhead, yours truly opted for the slightly longer, somewhat older route. There was a time when the 'old school' route was the normal way up Tincan, but that was 30 years ago. 
 
Tincan Infantry
The Tincan infantry marched up the mountain in a great skin track. Later in the day, the boot packing crowd showed up and just pulverized the skin track.
Tincan Tracks
The Tincan infantry attacked the 'common' bowl and tracked it out. If you don't want to ski tracks, skin a little further and find solitude and the untracked experience.  

Solitude

Old School Trail Home
One Last Look
This was one of the eastern-most lines, perhaps the eastern-most line on Tincan south face that I have ever skied. After solo skiing a few short laps in the south-facing bowl, I skinned and booted up the rocky ridge on looker's right in the photo above, and made the summit ridge near the entrance to north facing Todd's Bowl. Skiing the early season Tincan snowpack was dreamlike; the top layers were cold and smoky with a soft base under the smoke.

November 2, 2015

Summit Glacier Sojourn

Ski touring up the Crow Pass Trail to the top of Summit Glacier is an arduous trek, but the autumn powder on the glacier is a just reward.

Jewel Mountain - South Face
The north face of Jewel is not quite skiable yet. The Jewel permanent snowfield has shrunk, but the northerly aspect and prevailing winds may yield a worthy run this season before the avalanche hazard makes it off limits.
Jewel North Face
Yours truly stayed on the safer Summit side of the Jewel-Summit massif. Trudging up Summit and viewing its gaping crevasses, I wondered whether it may be safer on Jewel, after all.

Summit Glacier Crevasses - Patrick's Line
Summit Glacier Schrund
Summit was safe enough. A couple of untracked lines didn't quite erase the specter of a crevasse fall, but fresh powder kept the fear in check.
Summit Line
The terminal moraine has an excellent base. With a few 'shark teeth' protruding, the moraine had some wet snow set up really well covering most of the sharp cobbles and several inches of powder have fallen on top of the base. 
Jewel-Summit Terminal Moraine