Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Cold Fusion

What does 3 miles of biking, Four miles skinning,

And 3000 ft bootpacking,
Get you? Mt Timpanogos- Cold Fusion CouloirWe had an amazing day this past Sunday. Robbie, a kid from MA (Chris) who works with Robbie and I went on a journey to the north peak of Mt. Timpanogos. It was not easy, but it was fun. We drove as far as we could up American Fork Canyon, unloaded the bikes and peddled up the still closed road past Timpanikee campground. The road was melted out part of the way, but we still needed to travel the old fashion way, skinning another four miles to the base of the couloir. It is an obvious approach because it is such a prominant line and the road is basically flat and grated. We walked past the Grunge couloir, under the north face and directly up our objective. Booting the last section was firm but solid and it felt good to have a mountaineering tool in case of a slip. No dangerous signs of warming were apparent and I summited at 12:00 behind two guys who were crushing it. They left there skis at the top of the couloir and continued to summit. I enjoyed a rest and a sandwich while waiting for the slope to warm. I waited 45 minutes and began desending towards Robbie and Chris waiting 200 meters below. The top turns were still firm and got my attention, but quickly the slope got softer and I began linking turns in great corn. From where I met Robbie and Chris the skiing just got better. More mellow softer conditions made it a quick descent back to the woods below the shot. From here we skied/ traversed all the way back to our bikes. It was worth it to bring our bikes just for this part because we were back to our cars in 15 minutes. 8 hours total car to car. Go get it! Jake the Buf

APRIL 19th 2009

Who didnt hike baldy closing day

APRIL 19th closing day AltA fresh off an epic powder cycle around half of most mountains annual average fell in 3 weeks. those 3 weeks went by like nobody could believe, just like nobody could believe what seemed like every night it snowed at least a foot sometimes two. Some people say april 1st was the best day of their lives, some say april 4th. Spirits were high. How could a year end any better than ~200 inches in less than a moon cycle????? It can't. But a bluebird closing day at AltA comes close.

Dan goes huge while most altoids are sitting on their asses getting drunk.
Tim from Alfs being a dirty dirty hippie. Being a dirty dirty hippie looks like alot of fun here.

The HIGHBOY PARTY around 4pm. The crowd seemed big. We saw alot of people whom had their first ski day at alta of the year today. We arrived after talia's band played at watsons. At first the party is out of hand and people are semi annoying, you know in the back of your head they will all leave soon and you will get your mountain back, some points it feels like that time will never come. Highboy Party is a place where the beer flows like wine and the women instinctivly flock like the salmon of capastrano.
Once the obnoxious crowd left, we pulled out the large beer can that all skierboyz know and love. One may ask how do you get a keg to a highboy party, well it took alot of tools, inginuity and muscle. Skiing the traverse to highboy kegless has claimed many of the weak. Its obvious we arent dealing with amateurs.
The sun sets as the pbr flows off of our bootleg can.... kegs are illegal in the state of utah
Squinny pops in for a visit.
The crowd around 8pm.
Like every begining has a new ending, kegs dont last forever. Done just as the sun set over LCC. at this point Shreddy might have a man crush on Dan, and Boyd kept the stoke up.
Thats why you come prepared to finish the party right. The conditions were so epic notice the unprotected flame under what i suspect to be tobacco......and is that a trace of a buffalo?
Dynafits and drunks dont mix. I think we were all as messed up as boyd, but he just makes it look good. MY best highboy party and a great day to end the alta ski lift season. Thanks guys!


Monday, May 11, 2009

Portage, AK: May 10th

Exploring a mountain range is like a jigsaw puzzle.   At first it is a jumbled mess that doesn't appear to make any sense, but as you study the pieces you can see the big picture.  The first drive up Little Cottonwood leaves an impression.  You see chutes but you don't understand what is going on.  You think: boot it, ski it.  Time in the canyon, guide books, tours give you perspective and understanding.  You don't boot the Coalpit.  You approach Superior from the ridge.  You look off the back of Tanner's.  Where does that go?   One day you realize that you can see Superior from Big Cottonwood.  You link the canyons; you end up in Mill Creek, American Fork.  More pieces.  You find the piece for Neff's, Snake Creek, Bear Trap.  You see the mountains as a system, not a unconnected mess of nameless peaks.  Olympus and Raymond are on the same ridge.  I can take a shot at Box Elder from White Pine.  Alpine to Sandy.  I can link this to that.  Nebo, Timp, Cascade: all the pieces come together and you see the big picture.  And with this knowledge comes new lines, new connections, new possibilities.

The Chugach is huge and after two years of immersion, I am just beginning to see the outline of the big picture.  To bring it into clearer focus, I try new places and attempt to relate them to places I have already been.  Last weekend I was able to see Whittier, Prince William Sound, the Harvard Arm, and Marcus Baker from one vantage point.  A hike on Saturday helped me understand the Eklutna - Knik relationship.  Before these places were unconnected points on a map, now the Chugach is starting to resemble a coherent system.   Understanding where these points are in relation to one another is a modest but necessary start.  Unknown puzzle pieces still outnumber the known ones, but  I understand enough to know which pieces I need to look for. 

Portage is situated between Whittier and Turnagain Pass at the far end of the Turnagain Arm.  I drove South on the Seward Highway and made the turn towards Whittier.  The 2nd right (about 3 miles) is a small gravel road that ends at a RV Park.  There is an obvious North facing chute just behind the park.  When I skied this shot 4 years ago, there was a creek crossing just deep enough to make it extremely uncomfortable for a male.  Fortunately, the RV Park has installed a small bridge.  The chute was filled with avi debris, but the 2 weeks of warm had softened it considerably.  

Eventually the chute rolls over into a snow field with sweeping views of the Turnagain Arm and the backside of what we typically ski at Turnagain Pass which drains into the Placer River Valley.  The tracks of the AK Railroad go up the Placer on the their way to Seward.  I looked towards Whittier, but there is a small piece still missing for this link-up.  I tried to summit a peak above the snowfield, but it was too late in the day.  The sun had cooked the steep ascent route, and being solo, I baled.  Damn.  I wanted it.  

The skiing was good, albeit, deep corn.  The sun was shining directly on the chute and the debris was soft.  Good skiing, good sun, and a better understanding of the geography of the Chugach.  And as with all good outings, I left with a weeks worth of touring that I did not know existed the day before.

Portage Valley Chute #1

Looking down Turnagain Arm (Pyramid Peak on the Left)

The Placer River Valley and the backside of Kickstep and Pastoral