After last weekend’s drunkenness kept me from even attempting to ski, tales of 32 inches on Wednesday, in the middle of an especially boring work week, had me happy anticipating a good weekend on skis would get winter started for real. I was drumming a pen on my desk Friday so content that even a horrific avalanche advisory couldn’t dampen my spirits.

All these avalanches failed on the new snow old snow interface. One slab avalanche I triggered was 120 cm deep. It was approximately 70 m wide and 150 m long. I remotely triggered it from 100 m away. If that doesn’t show the volatile state of our snowpack, two sympathetic avalanches were triggered at the same time as a result.

Even after reading that my spirits were high, I figured we could maybe cut a chute and hack our way down the bed surface or at least just enjoy the new snow in some flattish pounder’s peak trees. It’s been cold recently (30 consecutive days bellow freezing) so I was reasonable confident we’d be skiing something other then mash potatoes.

Saturday started off strange. I was in bed by 9:30 Friday, woke up around 4, poured a drink, exchanged some small talk with a delirious Mikey (just back from a shift of nights on the slope), saw Max passed out face down on the couch, and caught the frantic Arsenal – United game. After Nasri got it started and Arsenal held on I crashed, before crawling downstairs a couple hours later to catch the Michigan game in a state of confusion. Just as Michigan was wrapping the game up Max woke, and we were on the road for Turnagain by 11.

Riding along in flawless sunshine, the ice bobbing in the tide to remind us just how cold it’s been, winter excitement was impossible to avoid. Driving into the pass there was occasional evidence of the reported slide cycle, but with the brilliant sunshine Max and I decided to head up Sunburst, look at skiing Elevator shaft off the north side, and failing that to play it safe and enjoy the new snow. Other then one messy spot the trail was very clean, with long tunnels cut under the alders, crouched skinning being preferable to endless bushwhacking. Of the 7 people ahead of us on the trail, we caught 5, two of whom were an elderly couple, who after we’d passed them continued up the final exposed pitch, the old lady looking increasingly shaky. Max was convinced this was all part of the old man’s attempt to kill his wife, thinking he hoped she’d fall awkwardly and tumble down a couple hundred feet of exposed rock.

We bailed on the Elevator, It looked to have already slid and was nicely filled in by a healthy amount of last year’s snow that’d survived the summer, but the exit looked like a couple hours of thick alder hacking, so we decided to go for two on the south side. On our first run we found creamy clean snow and some nice ridges and terrain still to be erased by white coastal cement. When we passed the elderly couple, the man was urging his wife on, directing her to a cracking rollover adjacent to a large slide indicating the accuracy of both friday’s advisory and Max’s belief he was attempting to kill his wife. We sped up for a second lap, racing the setting sun to the top to get another (mellower) run that ended up being the only lap we’d successfully capture on the POV camera. Even the trail to the car was fun, ducking through the alder tunnels and navigating around stumps on tired legs is still fun at this time of year.

Saturday evening was mellow, Kim and I took a trip to the video store for provisions, but otherwise we mostly we sat around the house laughing and listening to Mikeys rant about his usual antics, which this time culminated in the bizarre story of how he’d shoved his hand down the pants of transsexual in Mexico; and disapproving head shake he’d received from his mother.

Sunday greeted me in Anchorage with bright golden sunshine peaking through the clouds, but halfway to Girdwood the gray reality of the day dawned on us. Spirits were low as we stopped at Tesoro for coffee and gas, with nothing but a day wandering pea soup fog ahead, but back on the road, a few miles past Girdwood we were greeted by thick flakes that fell with increasing intensity as we climbed the pass. The Tin Can parking lot was a testament to the Pounder’s Peak moniker it received from Wilson (who Mikey inversely called “Nevil Longbottom on crack”) on his trip last spring. The “lot” was full and crowded with people asking how to wear their beacons and kids strolling around recreating scenes from Big Cottonwood, It won’t be long till it’s Yellowstone Club like decadence over at Tin Can. On the skin we passed nothing but booting boarders, the first skiers we saw were McManamey and Catlin representing Dongshow’s Hope office just bellow tree line.

Our two group’s traversed off in opposite directions, each finding about a fresh foot on top of the fluff from Wednesday, before reconvening up top, where we determined the name “Pillow Talk” fitting for Pounder’s Pea. On the second run Max and I ventured down a cliff band that had been horribly exposed only two weeks ago, but was now a thickly coated flater pillow line. The rock free early season skiing is nice, especially compared to Utah, where a pair of skis would be destroyed before the lifts opened.

Our main goal for the weekend was to get cameras and random stuff in order. That proved to be a mixed bag. We had our usual issues with the POV camera, either aiming it to low, forgetting the key lock and having it turn off mid run, or running out the batteries in cold weather, hopefully this weekends failures motivates us to figure the thing out, as when it works, it works really well. We had it mounted to the backpack with zip ties. The day should be considered a success just for the fact that I didn’t cut myself while cutting them off. A little hemophilia episode was avoided with the kevlar gloves from Mikey. The HV30 is excellent as always, although we didn’t use it to film any actual skiing. The video bellow is crap, sorry for the poor aim, but understand the only outlet I have for mediocre footage is to bore all of you so enjoy,

.

Advertisements