Monday, November 9, 2009


Finally I put it in 4WD, skinned it, sent it, and skied back to the road.

Last week's dust on glacier left me empty and hollow.  It felt good at the time, but I knew it was lacking something.  Maybe it was that moment when Tom dropped the knee and his skis came out from under him revealing blue ice. Fortunately he was uninjured because the bolder field on the hike out looked eerily similar to "Touching the Void" and I figure Tom's at least as tough as Joe Simpson. 

A few days later the weather started to get interesting.  Something was getting fired up out in the Gulf of Alaska.  The tempest was angry. Then the winds picked up.  And then they picked up again.  50 mph for 36 hours with gusts to 80. It calmed. I got excited.  Who's with me?  Come on, I think it'll be good.  Nobody? 

The last 7 months had aged the mountains horribly.  They looked bad and were beginning to suffer from hypertension, poor circulation, athlete's foot, and black lung.  So I sent them to a day spa.  Steam room, whale songs, mud-mask, yoga, yerba, massage, and all sorts of other hippie bullshit.  The treatment was a success!

The Kenai Mountain turned heads as they showed off their 4,000' sky to sea faces.  

The Tordrillo's were back to their former glory. 

Redoubt came into view: well rested and no sign of ill temper.  Even the Chugach, that tough old broad, was looking pretty good this morning.  

If the 3" base at the trailhead didn't bring me back to reality, the heavy fog did.   But I wasn't about to let common sense stop me.  Sure, I'll cross that thin ice. Yeah, I'll skin up that narrow ravine with flowing water. What's that you say? The mash potatoes are giving way to a death crust? Sign me up! And up I went, and the fog thinned, and the crust thinned, and the base grew and grew, and before long I was back in Winterland.  

I stayed up high as long as my legs would allow.  High speed compressions, rollers, and big turns. Just say no to squiggles, Alaska. The light was good, the pitch was right, and the snow was super-hero.  Lap after lap and not a thought regarding 1,800' of crust and creeks that separated the goods from the ride.  But I did have to descend. Conditions deteriorated with each turn. That root grind into switch butter granite wasn't styly at all; it was just plain ugly.  I road that junkshow right into the swamp below the road.  The skis took a vicious beating, but like the old saying goes, "Pride cometh before the edges."

You would have done the same.


1 comment:

  1. so inspiring it hurts. The Gulf has been good to uss too, now were getting the reacharound, quite literally. Warm, wet river of rain, 12" in 48 hours to come and more throughout the week. bye bye deepest opening base EVER at Baker.