Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Tincan Proper & Todd's

The people that bitch loudest about snow are usually doing so from the couch.  If you can get over their dire predictions and your own doubts, you will never regret your decision to go out and play. 

The snow may not be epic, but it sure as hell beats hanging in the house.  I headed South to Turnagain expecting some low snow, low elevation storm skiing.  During the drive it became apparent that the storm had fizzled.  The flurries gave way to sun.  Time to change the plan.  How about some high elevation blue bird wind crust?  I decided on Todd's, the big ass slide path highly visible from the road. 

Todd's from the Seward Highway

I was the first one to the trailhead at 10:10 AM.  The folks in AK are not known for Alpine starts even when the sun rises mid-morning.  I started off skinning up towards Tincan.  Once I got above tree-line, I could see the trailhead was filling up.  I kept going at a medium pace.  At the top of Tincan Bowl there was about 3" of fresh and no one around; then a dog showed up. The poachers were closing in.  I was enjoying the solitude, so I continued out the ridge a little further. The views were amazing. 

Looking SW at Turnagain Pass and the Seward Highway

Looking NW at Eddie's and Turnagain Arm

Todd's being North-facing is completely in the shade until early March.  Sunshine is a rare commodity this time of year so I decided to play on the sun-soaked ridge for a while. Tincan Proper would be a worthy objective.  It looked spicy but doable.  I ditched the back-pack and skis and pushed on towards the top. I took my time, tried to stay on rock, wished for my ax, and eventually made it.  There are some amazing shots off if this peek: the South Face and the North Couloir are now on the list.  

Looking back at my route to Tincan Proper

While on the peak, two folks got to the top of Todd's and skied it.  I was secretly relieved not being forced to open that run solo.  Todd's starts in the high 30s and maintains its pitch for a good 1,500' before relaxing a bit in the form of an endless run-out.  Up top the snow was breakable but a little speed took care of that.  The snow was still a little scratchy but a little more speed took care of that. Then the snow was great and there was nothing left to do but smile, smile, smile. Unfortunately there are few options from the bottom of this schuss run.  

I tra-scended back to the car, and met the two skiers that had gone just before me: local legends Kathy and Eric the Viking.  They were telling me about all the epicness of last winter. It seems that they were able to ignore the people at home bitching about the volcano, high pressure, or something else.  They went out and played, and quietly proved them all wrong.

There's a lesson in there somewhere.