Hatcher Pass

Via Jimmy, who is back in town on vacation, some Hatcher Pass skiing from the last couple of days.


Trying to keep it looking fresh around here. The video above is from my cousin’s last weekend in Hatcher Pass. Currently it’s dumping up here (i’m reading complaints of it being too deep to turn) so the cousins should be providing some new footage soon.

After skiing Superbowl on day one of their vacation, and with clouds down south but sunshine over the Talkeetnas, I drove my cousins up to crowded Hatcher Pass yesterday.  We parked at Independence Mine, they each took a couple laps on both sides of the road, while I sat in the parking lot sipping stouts while giving out some basic directions.  It took some time to sort out the sun crust and get past some skin issues, which combined with a typically late start meant they were skiing till 8:30, but still managing to find good light and fresh snow on every run.  From down in the parking lot, the extended light made it felt like the first day of spring. Video of Mike’s last line bellow, more to follow soon.

Graham, Charlie, Jimmy and I skied Wolverine today, it was awesome, exhausting and scary, and because of those reasons I don’t have time to post much, so enjoy this video of Jimmy in Hatcher last friday and I’ll get after it tomorrow while in the office.  Oh and it was really really really good.  A demain.

hatcher pass talkeetna mountainsGraham, Jimmy and I went skied Hatcher Pass today; it was fantastic.  Deep, light, stable, snow, not a cloud in sight, and although it was a tad rocky (like always up there, I came home with some fresh core shots) that didn’t hinder the skiing at all.  Pictured above is our second run of three, everything we hit today was fantastic, both north and south facing shots had nothing but blower powder.  I’m so happy and excited for more I’m going to have trouble sleeping tonight.  Anyway, I forgot to charge the battery on the video camera, so you’ll have to settle with for these photos.

skinning back up after the first run

oh the tracks are beautiful

grahams back while we skin upAnd if you’re especially bored, Piste Hors has both some thoughts on recently improved European winters and a glacial safety film that got me laughing about British people falling in crevasses daily over there.  Finally there is this treatise on skiing with short poles, which I guess is better then no poles at all.

hatcher pass in january 10 I celebrated MLK day with a few too many mid day margaritas trying to put together a frustrating and difficult puzzle; some horrible gloppy painting of a vineyard kept three of us working for hours without any progress.  I didn’t even make it home.  This morning I woke up with the type of headache only cheap margarita mix and a night of puzzling can provide.  Luckily I got a ride downtown, and was able to take the bus back to my house early this morning before the sun came up (I love slow January mornings), allowing me to go to Hatcher with Graham.  We skied a line on the left side of the road, on the south side of what I think is April Bowl (I don’t know the names of anything up there), and the snow was fantastic.   A little wind effected and rocky towards the top, but 10-12 inches of cold powder the rest of the way.  It was a new line for both Graham and I, with quick and easy access.  Hatcher is skiing really well right now. Graham and I weren’t alone up there today, but it’d also be a stretch to say there are are a lot of tracks.  Anyway, no video today, typically I forgot to clear the card for my camera so got to the top only to learn I couldn’t record anything; but if you want a mediocre idea of what we skied I have a photo of Graham skiing it here.

awesome January light in Alaska

After arriving home and realizing I’d just traded Paris in September for Anchorage in October I was pretty unmotivated to get on with things last week.  Going out doesn’t have the same appeal when the streets are so empty that fat bald men with goatees drive up and ask if you’ve seen any kids.  No description needed, they’re that scarce.  Luckily Jeff and Graham offered me the opportunity to join them skiing at the Snowbird Hut this weekend, and I happily went along, hoping to get a taste of the winter I’d come home for.

The weather Friday was pretty awful, warm rain, a retreating snowline and predictions of heavy winds; typically demotivating for this time of year but warmer then usual.   It took us five and a half hours of walking along the closed road, scrambling up a rain slicked trail and skinning over rocks iced with sloppy snow to reach the hut.

I’d spent the last month walking all over Paris admiring the scenery, and I’d thought this would better prepare me for skiing then my normal Alaskan fall activity of sitting on the couch watching football.   I figured it would be a decent intro as the basic action – walking around admiring the beautiful scenery – was essentially the same, but his was only true while wandering along the road compared to interesting, once we started scrambling up the muddy hillside I got wrecked.  The final section through the pass and across the glacier with skis on was heartrendingly relaxing, but upon arriving at the hut I was exhausted.  After a night of intermittent sleep I woke up to  clearer weather with a light breeze feeling drowsy but ready for the years first turns.  Early season skiing on the glacier with its long mellow runs with plenty of space to open up and not worry about rocks was great fun.  Exhaustion couldn’t hide my huge smile after some fast turns in the sticky rain effected snow.

It was pleasant  just to take in the difference in scenery, Paris with it’s perfectly spaced picturesque clouds and Alaska with it’s contorted and strange sky with the sunlight filling from impossible angles. After a month of wandering through Paris discovering the minuscule parks tucked between meticulously ornate buildings to be suddenly wandering through huge empty valleys marked by a solitary rotting cabin, amongst heaps of mine waste and finding a cached camouflaged new testament, it has been a strange week of contrasts.

It was exhausting hiking for hours to and from the glacier, and also a bit frightening to go out for the first time all season and find most of your gear falling apart (I think like Akaky Akakievich when replacing stuff) but I feel rather lucky that the hiking wrecked me. I’m so tired and sore that I’m likely to sleep, rest and watch football until there is a little more snow on the ground, or things start too feel more normal around here.  More skiing to come.

Random Links to pass the time:

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