Monday, February 27, 2012

Late February Update: AK

The February storm finally let up for a few days. Since there hasn't been a break in the action, there aren't any persistent weak layers. The snow has been quick to heal after storms this year.

Alas, I was tethered to the cubey! The photos and stories were coming in; folk were getting it and I had a serious case of FOMO. It was too much; I needed out. On Wednesday I made for the door at 3:15. Turnagain was too far for this late start, but Hiland Road in Eagle River would fit the bill. ER hadn't received the massive dumps that had buried Turnagain; my expectations were low but skiing is skiing is awesome even if it sucks.

The sky was cloudy with patches of blue, and I hoped to luck into some decent light. But throughout the drive the weather continued to worsen. It was snowing hard at the trailhead with 3" fresh. Poor vis and heavy snow convinced me to hit up the low angle bowl just West of Mountain Harp. As I climbed it got deeper and deeper and it became obvious that I had lucked into some deep powder. Who needs light when you have 18" of blower? Probably someone, but not me.

Oh, that was a rhetorical question?


Oh, was rhetorical too?

Enough already! Time to schuss! It was still pounding . The sky, air, ground were all grey. Nothing to focus on except the the faint hint of skinner trailing off into the sky? It would have to be enough. Effortless turns complemented the powder that billowed over my waist with each turn. I was shocked. Hoots and giggles rang out throughout the blind descent until I hit the road. Stunning!

I had to return on Thursday. I put out the word out but no one believed me and again I had it to myself. The plan was to follow my skinner, but that was buried by another un-forecast storm. Usually I bring the rock skis for ER, but today I had the 194s and it was just as deep as the day before. More giggles and squeals and yawps. Their loss.

Turnagain had got 9' in the 2 weeks since my last visit and the CNFAIC proclaimed: Low! Hubert has a penchant for the South Facing shots on Eddies. 1,500', steep, and plenty of room. No more willows, rocks, cliffs, or anything.

We ran into Paul and Anthony at the top of Run #1. It was #3 for them but it was bliss for all. Still no vis, but with conditions like this, seeing is not really that necessary. So you go and trust in the slope, the equipment, and muscle memory. And the super hero snow let's you get away with it time and time again.

Nothing to See Here

The light was so poor, we failed to notice that dusk had arrived. But being the the last car in the lot is not necessarily a bad thing.

Saturday morning was forecast to be sunny, but there was a weather advisory for the afternoon. Get the morning sun and then get an afternoon nap. Mountain Harp was calling again. Harp is the easiest 5er in the CSP, and draped with a dozen high quality lines. It was calm and sunny in the car-park, but by the time Chris W. and summited the wind was ripping. The extra layers were going on. Something was brewing out there. The sun was still shining as we dropped into a sheltered slope just East of the peak.

The wind was howling but the prodigal sun had returned! The glorious sun! The rare sun out for a short tryst in the mountains! The blessed sun! Hello, friend! Oh, and the snow was excellent, but that sun, that wonderful sun. ER continues to deliver.

Looking Up 2,000' of Goodness

We climbed West back towards the summit ridge. It took about an hour but, in those 60 minutes the sky went from blue to a menacing gray.

Climbing Out with Hanging Valley in the Background

It was time to go, but we still had another 2,000' of powder sprawled out under our tips. The light was garbage but we were used to that. Nothing but smiles as we dropped back into the ping-pong ball, but I was secretly cursing that fickle, shy bastard in the sky.

- U.K.

No comments:

Post a Comment