Wednesday, April 16, 2014

4/10/2014, Lipp's Couloir, Turnagain Pass

After an awesome day with great conditions on 4/09, Drew and I went back to the trap and started scheming on the next days tour.  We knew that conditions would still be stellar, another bluebird powder day in Alaska…. No complaints here.  On a previous tour in Turnagain, we had spied out a couloir at the end of an opposing drainage.  It was the largest couloir on the ridge; big, steep, and aesthetic.  We decided this couloir would be our objective for the day. 

Drew skinning through the Turnagain alder brush. 

Getting in to the alpine we could see the couloir, and although it looked close, knew that it was still about 1.5 miles away.  

After a solid 2 hours of hiking, we were finally approaching the couloir.

Feeling confident about snow stability, we decided to boot up the couloir.  It wasn't the most conservative route, but it was the most efficient route.

Starting to boot up the gut, it was nice to have our verts.   "It can't be that far, right? I can see the top."

1400' Later, we were topping out on the ridge.   

And after a short hike to the peak, we were summit chillin'.  The weather was perfect, the views were top notch, and the snow was powder. We were STOKING.  We hung out on the summit for a while, and enjoyed the scenery before dropping.  From the summit, you could see endless mountains, in ever direction.  This is one of four panoramic's I took.  

Stoked on life, it was time to rip the couloir.  Drew went first, and ripped it up.  The snow was blower, and the line was bitchin'.

The snow was cohesion-less, and although it wasn't super deep, still produced a decent sluff.

Drew slashing into the sluff near the bottom.

After watching Drew shred it up, I was stoking, and ripped down.  Near perfect conditions, on a great line, in an epic place. We were feeling good about life.  After soaking in the stoke, we snowboarded down the valley, and after some bushwhacking shenanigans, were back at the car.  

Its bear season up here, and we staying strapped.

 Another great day in the AK backcountry.

Saturday, April 12, 2014

4/09/2014, Lost Couloir, Hatcher's Pass

On an earlier tour in Hatcher's Pass, I had seen a huge cliff face across the valley and thought it might be a couloir.  After consulting some maps, and seeing promising topography, Drew and I decided to go check it out. 

Skinning towards the cliff face, "Does it go through?"

"Yeah, she goes."

We dug a quick test pit, were happy with our results, and started climbing.  Getting into the gut, the stoke was high.

Looking down the couloir, from the ridge. 

In Alaska, the mountains are endless. Topping out on the ridge, this was the view off the otherside of the mountain. 

There is a spiny face, that drops into the couloir, I couldn't resist but ride one of the spines.  (photo: Drew VanNice)

Dropping over the convexity, I hammered a toe-side turn and let the line sluff out, before shredding.  (photo: Drew VanNice)

A really awesome and unique run!  In the apron, I stopped and took some photos of Drew.  Throwing up some smoke.  

And getting lost in the whiteroom.


It doesn't get much better than this. 

And a parting shot of our tracks, after another great day in Alaska.

Friday, April 11, 2014

3/29/2014, Pete's South, Turnagain Pass

On our tour on 3/27, Drew and I scoped some fun looking, north facing lines across the basin from the ridge we were on.  It looked like they were hiding some good snow, so on 3/29, we decided to go check them out.      

Drew skinning up into an alpine drainage. 

We used our boot pack from 2 days before, to access the ridge. 

We got a late start, because our first run was on a southwest facing slope.  We dropped into the slope just after three, and scored perfect corn.  Drew Carving. 

We kept our speed and pointed it across the basin.  After a short skin, we were soon booting up the north facing chutes we came for. 

Getting to the top we were STOKED.  Powder snow on a sick line, after 2 weeks of constant high pressure!  

Drew surfin'.

Snowboard tracks.

Getting back to the ridge, we still had time for another run.  Drew was tired and hung on the ridge, while went for another.  Feeling good about the first run, I stepped up to a slightly steeper line. 

Morgan slashing. (photo: Drew VanNice)

After another fun run, I quickly hiked up to the ridge to meet Drew.  We had 2 hours of light left, but the sun was going to disappear behind the mountains in 30 minutes.  So we began our journey back to the car.

Ridge hiking in the evening light.

After a short ridge traverse, we were back on the first slope of the day, and ready to drop back towards the car.  Sunset powder in Alaska, Drew is stoked! 

We dropped into this couloir in the twilight, surfed out the drainage, and bushwhacked back to the car. At the car, we had a well deserved beer, and reminisced over another awesome day in Turnagain Pass.

Monday, April 7, 2014

3/28/2014, Crow Pass, Girdwood

Tired from a solid day touring around in Turnagain Pass on 3/27, Drew and I got a later start, and weren't skinning out of the Crow Pass trailhead until early afternoon on 3/28.  Our goal was to hike up and check out some North facing zones we been prospecting.  We were confident there would be some good snow, and were stoked to check out a new area.  

Were going over there. 

Pre-shred challenges: creek crossing and steep bushwhacking. 

Our efforts were rewarded though, with one of these 2500' beasts. 

Sheltered North facing slopes were harboring soft re-crystalized snow, but nearly two weeks of clear dry weather had created lots of variable surface conditions.  Drew and I agreed that we should boot up which ever chute we wanted to ride, to be aware of any unforgiving surface conditions.  Getting up into the chute, conditions were looking good; one or two icy sections, but mostly re-crystalized powder.

Drew's stoked 

About 200' from the top of our line, we were observing of a surface windslab.  In the next 20' of hiking, this windslab grew from 1" to 5" thick.  This was concerning. We stopped and evaluated our position and the snow conditions.  We were high up on the slope, in an exposed position, just below the start zone of a large slide path.  We quickly determined we would go no further, and would transition where we were.  Transitioning and dropping on a steep/exposed portion of slope is never ideal, but we felt it unwise to continue to the ridge, and test the growing windslab.    

(photo: Drew VanNice) 

Ready to drop, this should be fun. (photo: Drew VanNice)

Good view.  (photo: Drew VanNice)

Drew coming down the top portion of the chute.

And slashing through the dog leg… 

And down the gut.

And a couple hundred figure 8's later, we were looking back at the chute'r.

 After 45 minutes of bushwhacking and split-sking, we were enjoying a well deserved beer at the car.

Saturday, April 5, 2014

3/27/2014, Pete's North, Turnagain Pass

With over ten days since the last snowfall, by the end of March,  Turnagain Pass was plagued by spooned turns and variable snow conditions.  In an effort to get away from the crowds and to find soft snow, Drew and I explored further onto the Turnagain Arm than we had on our previous days.  Our goal for the day was to find some north facing chuter's.  

With the poor snow year, the lower you start, the more bush whacking you have to do. 

Done with the bushwhacking, Drew's stoke is pumping. 

Our first objective, was the skinny straight chute, in the right center of the photo. 

Booting up the chute, the snow conditions were looking good, and we were stoked.

After a quick rest on top, we switched over, and ripped it up.  The snow was settled powder.  It rode soft and smooth with minimal sluffing.  Drew caught this photo of me dropping into the top portion of the chute.  (photo: Drew VanNice) 

After riding down into the apron, I stopped and took some pictures of Drew shredding.

Mountain Art.     

With lots of sunlight left we used our skin track to access a dog leg chute, to the lookers right of our first chute.  Drew booting up after the dog leg. 

And ripping down through the dog leg.

Another great day, capped off with a beautiful sunset and a beer.