Tuesday, after skiing Tin Can Proper, while Graham and I were sitting around drinking beer, someone mentioned how it was nice that a storm was coming, as it’d give us a couple of days off.  Everything was skiing really well at the time, and I was a little afraid another storm would mess everything up; but I was exhausted and some rest did sound really nice.  Well the storm came, and I took two days off.  I watched a bunch of soccer, and ate a lot of bacon, things were good.  The initial reports were that the mountains had received a mere three inches, nonetheless I was anxious to get out and see how things were doing.  And now I’m looking back fondly on those couple of down days, as after the last 3 days I’m again exhausted.  

Hunter and I took the dogs up Tin Can Friday afternoon, once Hunter returned from a job interview.  We saw the cars of both Graham and the Hope crew in the parking lot, but didn’t see anyone we recognized on the way up.  The dogs are both getting a lot better at skiing, and Hunter, while skiing with Walter, is a mustache away from being Scott Kennett.  We found a lot more than 3 inches, up top the wind had wiped some of it into deep drifts, but generally things were covered by about a foot of featherweight  snow. 

Saturday I woke up to the sound of my phone ringing, eventually I got my act together and began stumbling around my room looking for it.  At least half an hour passed before I found it with a text message from Graham saying “Get Up, It’s Sunny!”  I thought about that for a moment, then looked out the window and realized that it was, in fact,  sunny.  I’m still adjusting to waking up after dawn.  By the time I called Graham he was already on his way to Hatcher Pass, so I woke Hunter (who was sleeping on the couch) and soon the two of us were on our way towards Turnagain.  It was bright and sunny along the arm, but climbing the pass we were met by light fog.  We skinned up Magnum, emerging from beneath the fog as we gained the ridge, and slowly made our way towards our lines, soaking in the afternoon sunshine.  No one had put a track down what we wanted to ski, a pleasant change from last weekend.  I was shocked by how deep the snow was when I dropped in, the cold had kept it from consolidating, which allowed me a couple face shots along the run.  I filmed Hunter’s turns, my hands burning from the cold, I really need to learn to work a video camera with gloves on.  We didn’t stick around long, Hunter’s skins were failing in the cold, we’d attached them with zip ties from the start, and as we began to feel the winter chill of inactivity we weaved or way through powder and alders to the car and headed home.  A phone call with Graham on the drive set my plans for both the night and the next day.  We decided to take advantage of the conditions,  get up early the next morning, and head for Eddies ridge.

Things didn’t follow my plans for an easy night, getting to bed early.  Kim came over and I was again unable to resist drinking beers and playing PES for hours, but when my alarm went off the next morning at seven,  I felt fine, the whole hiding out in my room while trying not to wake anyone routine was reminiscent of  my working days.  As Graham and I drove along the highway near Bird I remembered that it was Super Bowl Sunday, which was the day last year when we skied Proper on a crowd-free sunny day, and I began hoping for a repeat event.  Again we found the pass to be pretty deserted. I’m pretty surprised about the depth football love felt by the AK ski community.

 The approach went really well as I couldn’t get us lost in the Eddies woods, with the skin track so established from the crowds it resembled an arboreal highway.  We were forced to drink out beers on the upper ridge as it was so cold they were starting to freeze in our packs.  They made for a nice treat as we traversed the Eddies ridge, which is very wide and flat and makes for a great ridge walk.  After 45 minutes or so we reached to a rock we couldn’t down climb, and in the process of finding a way around it, Graham kicked off a shallow windslab.  Our proximity to two tasty spines, combined with the other events, convinced us it was time to descend.  I went first, made my way down the bed surface of Graham’s slab, and found my was into the bowl, before cutting over (photo bellow) to my chosen spine.  The snow was light bottomless powder, sluffing lightly in the gullies on either side.  The apron was covered with half buried debris from the last storm cycle,  but that was only a minor inconvenience.  I slid to a halt, sat on my skis, began fiddling with the camera, and waiting for Graham’s run.  Graham sped along his spine before slamming into an alder at the bottom that didn’t slow his progress.  After a couple rounds of pictures we got started on the slow walk home. We were back at the car around 4, so we took about 6 hours round trip.  Another good day completed, but it’s only a beginning, we’ll see what this next storm does to us and get back at is as usual.

 

Interesting stuff on my down day

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