Hunter and I skied Alyeska Sunday.  It was gusty; we had to wait through a wind hold to get up the tram and at one point nearly got blown off chair 6.  The snow was thick, heavy, cement.  Up top it was smooth and easily turnable, although you couldn’t see very well, and towards the bottom it was a sticky paste above a breakable wind crust.  It could have been a lot worse, there weren’t too many tracks, lines nonexistent (granted it was raining),  after after sitting in Anchorage watching snow melt cruising around the resort was the type of cheap fix I needed.

Grahams homemade skis

Graham's homemade skis

Today Graham and I went to inspect the snow on Tin Can. We got our traditional late start, leaving Anchorage at 11:30, stopping for lunch, and coasting our way to along the highway through pouring rain.  It was an uninspiring drive, listening to the rain tap on the truck and watching mud stained ice bob in the tide erased any optimism I had.  Graham and I even wondered if the conditions would be so bad that we were be better off just drinking beers in the parking lot, where it was sleeting.  We eventually decided that since we’d come all that way, we might as well go for a skin and drink some beer, while digging a couple pits.  It started snowing and feeling like winter after we climbed a few hundred feet, which was a major relief.  Watching all the snow melt has been stressful, and I really needed to get out on skis and see for myself that our entire winter hadn’t gone to shit.  It was reassuring to see proof that it actually had been snowing up high.  We dug our first pit down low, just as the skin track begins to flatten out after the first steep aldery section.  We found a strange snow rain layer a foot down, the facets from the cold spell another foot and a half or so down, and then a large layer of sugar along the ground, however nothing was especially reactive to our tests.  It got clearer as we climbed, and we decided to push on, eventually digging a second pit (while we drank our beers) just bellow the top on the ridge the main skin track follows.  On our second pit there was a lot more new snow since the recent rain event, we found the facets, but our most reactive layer was the 12″ or so that’d fallen since sunny saturday morning; sliding on the wind crust from the previous rainy storm.  The skiing was fine, the snow was very wet and got sticky towards the bottom, but there weren’t any tracks, so it made for a pleasant run.  Should be an interesting couple weeks watching the new snow react, there are even rumors of sunny weather approaching, so I’m sure there will be more updates to come.

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