Front Range

With the absolutely amazing conditions this winter the front range above Anchorage is opening to snow-machines, and I’ve been tortured all week looking at pictures and videos of friends skiing some amazing conditions (for the front range) after work.  The video above is from Max and Charlie’s trip up the S Couloir off Ptarmigan.


A malfunctioning Subaru forced Andy and I to abandon our plans to ski Hatcher Pass and opt instead to head up to Arctic Valley, as it was looking pretty well covered from town all week.  It was a good reminder of the phenomenon that snow always looks a lot thicker and more plentiful from 7 to 8 miles away.  Anyway, the skiing was a lot better then it looked from the parking lot, and it was really nice just to skin up something.


alaska skiing dog avalancheSo, after suffering in the office all day, I’d made up my mind to get some front range skiing in this evening.  While getting dressed Wilson arrived from Alyeska and decided to join Sue and I in our plan to head up to Arctic Valley.  Unfortunately, the gate just past the golf coarse was shut, rendering Arctic Valley inaccessible so we went up Hiland Road thinking Harp would deliver some nice early evening light.  Both Wilson and I were pretty suspect of the snow, and decided on a mellower shot that looked to have slid recently.  It skied fantastic, both Wilson and I cruised to the bottom without incident.  Unfortunately, Sue (the dog) decided to head lookers right into a rocky wind loaded area that popped.  She swam to the lookers left and was all but out of it when it propagated further and she got slammed again.  Thankfully, despite tumbling numerous times she kept up the doggy paddle and escaped to the lookers right just as the slide was settling and quickly ran over to us.  We’re thinking this might be Sue’s last day skiing for the year.  My shot of the slide from lower in the valley is posted bellow, sorry about the poor quality pictures, all I had was my GoPro and I didn’t have any video either.shot from lower down the valley(click for big)

Illiamna and Redoubt from Arctic ValleyRaced up to Arctic Valley after work for some sunset skiing this evening.  There is an impressive amount of snow (where the wind has let it be) for this time of year up there, but the skiing was overshadowed by the fantastic sunset.  After wandering around with my head down in town all day it was nice to be reminded of how beautiful this place is.

homemade skisHaving watched Graham rip around on his homemade skis for the past two seasons, over the this past summer I became convinced I needed him make a pair for myself.  This evening, after the months long (we’re both rather lazy, me more so the him) process of shaping, pressing, finishing, and acquiring bindings, I finally got to take them for a quick run in the Front Range.  The snow was a random variation between wind crust and ice, so I didn’t get the best test run, but they handled they conditions flawlessly, and were a blast in the small pockets of powder on the lee side of the lower bushes.  I absolutely can’t wait for what’s to come with these two!  I also have bonus video of the ski press in action, which is actually kind of dull, but  while we were making these Graham told me that we had reached “his favorite part” so I rolled the camera for a few.  Enjoy.

The last two days have seen Wilson and I charge out of the house after interpreting signs that the weather was clearing, only to end up skiing in the clouds anyway. (The photo above is actually Jeff from Saturday, it hasn’t looked that good since) Yesterday we went to the Front Range and today it was Turnagain.  The snow was excellent both days, although the newly fallen stuff in Turnagain was heavy but skied great.  I’m also loving day light savings time as we’ve left the house in  the middle of the afternoon with the sun setting around 8 now.  Great stuff, just waiting for some sun and stability.  Here is some video from Flat Top yesterday.

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