Friday, April 27, 2012

Falls Creek: April 20

The Noodler and I finally linked up for a rare full day tour, that is full day for me (not for him).  We were at the Falls Creek trailhead and skinning by 10:30 AM.  

Starting at Sea Level
 It was warm and sunny and we were worried that we might be too late.  With beer stashed in a nearby snowbank and guarded by Devils Club, we marched up the trail in hiking shoes.  At about 500', it was time to put on the boots and start skinning.  Staying on the trail became difficult: with feet of snow on the ground the route isn't entirely obvious.  It becomes degrees of shwacking and fighting and veggie belays.  Eventually we got into the well filled-in creek bed and travel efficiency greatly improved.

Out of the Scrub
Falls Creek is Couloir City and the stoke was high.  It seemed that we were a bit late for South aspects and early for North.  We opted to to continue higher and see what would unfold.

Not Alone

Options for Next Time
As we climbed higher, more couloirs became obvious, but we were already in the mellower upper portion of the drainage.  We decided to attempt the high point: South Suicide (5,005').  The sun was just barely starting to melt the snow in the upper bowl, but it was taking a brutal toll on the climbers.  There was nowhere to hide.  Temps were in the 40s but the sun, bright white snow, and a complete lack of wind conspired to kick the shit out of me.  

Finally the slope angle eased, a feeble breeze kicked up, and a dry rock provided an opportunity to recuperate.  I finished my water and chocolate and used the corn snow to get the salt out of my eyes and face.  I put it in low and eased my way up to the head of the drainage.  

The Noodler scrambled the last 100' to tag the summit while I rested.  After about 20 minutes we were both ready to reap the reward of our effort.  There was 4,500'+ of continuous snow below us and I was confident the first 3,500 would be awesome.  Below that would get interesting.

Top of Falls Creek

I gave the top 2,000' an A+.  The Noodler only gave it an A, but as you can see, he was much more intimate with the snow than I.  The corn fiesta continued lower and lower.  We knew it had to end eventually, but we were continually surprised with the quality as we descended towards the sea.

Wet Slide Debris
(the s isn't silent)
It was unspoken, but we both were well aware it would have to get very silly before either of us would click out.  Debris, bushes, mud, open water.  Check, check, check, and check.

Good Times
We actually descended to about 600', much lower than we expected.  The Noodler gave me a strange look when I strapped my skis to the pack.  He is of the opinion that carrying your skis in your hand is much faster.  He explained the pros and as if to make a point, he was off in a flash. I wasn't too worried because the keys were in my pocket.

Shit, he knows where the beer is!

I tightened my straps and was off in an awkward hustle into the mud and bushes with the rapidly fading hope of beer below.

 - U.K.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Mid April Upate: Alaska

Blue skies, warm days, and cool nights have made for some A+ corn skiing in South Central AK.

The Alaska Range

April has been focused on "The Iggle." I've been able to get out most days after work just as the South facing slopes begin to soften.  Unfortunately, this week I am in Kuparuk, Alaska for work. Temps here are in the teens and there is 3-6" of new low density powder on top of a supportable base, but the nearest hills are over 100 miles to the South. Shoot!

Some recent Iggle ski trails that we schussed in the last week or so....

I hope everyone is having a great spring!

 - U.K.


Swiss Bowl and East Swiss

North Face of Gordon Lyon
(not sure I'd sleep well in either home at the bottom during a big storm cycle)