It was the Solstice so it was off to schuss the Solstice Couloir. Town was sunny but the mountains were super socked in, but there was no other choice.
The Solstice Couloir is accessed via the South Fork trailhead up Hiland Road in Eagle River. Basically aim for the notch (Hunters Pass) above the car park. From the notch follow the ridge up-canyon to the summit of Peak 3980. I've made this hike maybe 20 times, but this was the first time in a cloud.
|The bottom 1/3 of the Solstice Couloir|
The vis was zero, so I let Jesus take the wheel. The gamble paid off and after 75 minutes I was rewarded with a majestic view that could best be compared to the inside of a ping pong ball. But there was good news: the snow had finally changed to névé - summer snow: fast, smooth, and consolidated! The sun cups are still in their infancy; the skiing was excellent.
Mid-winter, you can milk this shot for a good 2,100' by sussing private property onto a road below the trail head. Today, it was good for 1,500'.
From the bottom of the snow, simply stumble down fall line until you hit the South Fork Trail. Due to recent work, this fresh scar across the hill side is impossible to miss. Once you hit the ATV road it only 1 mile back to the car. Easy peasy! And this line will be skiable for the next couple of weeks. So if you have the itch but not the desire to spend all day hiking, keep this shot in mind.
|Looking up the Solstice in 2009|
(note the dark ash from the Mt. Rebout eruption)