My cousin Brian, who spent the summer working in Denali, will be living in Girdwood for the winter. Apparently he’s working at the Sitzmark (which I’ve been told was torn down, but I’ve also been told the same thing every summer since I’ve been here and I don’t really keep up on actually happenings, just rumors and lies) and living in the blue building across from the Silvertip.   He was in Anchorage friday, taking care of some loose ends, and Saturday I went down to Girdwood to check out his his set up.

His place was pretty nice, and both his roommates, two girls from the south seemed, seemed cool. One didn’t realize it was already Saturday, and the other mentioned how the slight dusting of snow they’d received was the most snow she’d ever seen; so I think they’ll both work out great, despite not really grasping what there in for.

Fall colors in the morning

Fall colors in the morning

And speaking of the weather, it was very really crappy out. Low hanging clouds, gusty winds, with occasional flakes. Yet faced with the choice of looking for some snow, or getting drunk and watching football we decided to head for the pass and see what we could find.

Parking at Tin Can we had to hop over the occasional open stream and gain a couple hundred feet before finding enough snow to put skis on. Brian, being a snowboarder, booted along the skin track without problems. Up top the skiing was as decent as dust on crust is acceptable in October, but it was far too bushy near the bottom, and after having to walk a ways back to the car I determined it is still a little too early to be skiing Turnagain.

After a mellow night I woke up Sunday with my first case of sunny freight all season. Lacking a reasonable ability to predict the weather, even going to bed to clear skis doesn’t guarantee sunny weather the next morning, so waking up late, peaking out the window from bed and noticing blue skis always startles me into action, with the real fear of missing a rare quality day. I got ready in moments, found my stuff I hadn’t unpacked the day before, stole Max’s truck and headed out the door. I decided to check out Hatcher Pass, hoping to find more snow there then at Turnagain.

Skied from the lookers right of the peak, on the open, sparsely rocky face.

Luckily my hope proved correct. The roads down in Palmer were dusted with an inch of new snow, and in the pass there was maybe 6 inches of the fresh stuff. Being solo, I kept things pretty simple and near the road. I skinned up a ridge I’d skied last spring with Graham but don’t have a clue as to the name and was presently surprised by the amount of snow.  Hatcher Pass is normally a minefield of boulders (as you can see in this guy’s pictures from this weekend) that takes a fair amount of snow to cover. But on the skin up, breaking trail through a light dusting of snow inside a well established thigh deep trench, everything seemed surprisingly well covered so I picked out a clean looking ramp, where I found more excellent thigh deep snow. I skied pretty conservatively, in anticipation of slamming a rock, but after one clean run decided to huff my way back up and go for a second. Again I managed not to hit a single rock, even the various bulges in the snow, which I figured were sure to be rocks, proved to be just icy drifts.  My years in the Wasatch have conditioned me to expect early season skiing to destroy a pair of skis, this core shot-less stuff still confuses me.   Content after two, I skated along the road back to the car just in time to find a Park Ranger handing out tickets.  Since I hadn’t paid the parking fee, and the ranger had yet to make it to my car, managing only to shoot this quick, pointless scenic video, I took off quick to avoid the fine.   I skied the back ridge, with the sparse rocks at the top, visible near the end.

A great day of October powder skiing, which hopefully, will be typical of the winter to come!

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