August is here and that means it is time to ski the Ptarmigan Couloir. Today made for four consecutive August descents of this shot. Conditions in the past have been shitty, awful, and everything in between. This is where I try to convince you the lousy skiing is actually pretty darn fun. Well, it is.
I like getting the funny looks from people at the trailhead, I like trying to set a booter in firm summer snow, I like getting a bit nervous before the first tentative turn, and I like skiing year round. The Ptarmigan Couloir is best reached by using a mountain bike. My, alter-ego, Snotty von Dooshenheim, describes the a typically day of ski-mountain-bike-a-neering.
The big winter and cool summer in Anchorage has the Ptarmy in good shape. It is still possible to ski from the ridge and the cruxes are still relatively wide and deep. There was 2-3" of soft on top of very firm. Long fall line mini-ridges of extra firm snow / ice are aligned in neat rows. These ridges are 2" high x 2" wide x 100's of feet long about 3-4 feet apart. It makes for a bumpy ride which is nicely contrasted with the spray from the top few inches of soft snow. Click for the moving pictures.
So choosing between unleaded, supreme, and diesel, I give today a diesel. Ricky gives further explanation of this odd rating system.