Friday, September 7, 2012

Crystal Lake: September 7

The winds of shit were blowing; blowing real hard. And along with the monster wind storm came big precip. When the clouds lifted, the high peaks had the first snow of late summer, probably not enough to ski but enough to get a guy thinking.

Tasty Couloir near Girdwood
I figure you need at least a foot of heavy, wet snow to ski glacier ice, but only an inch or two to greatly improve the summer snow.  Fortunately, Crow Pass has both glaciers and summer snow.

Tundra: The Best AK Foliage 
It was a pleasant hike and the Fall colors are near peak in the tundra.  It's been a short cool summer; the salmonberries are still green and there is already termination dust in the mountains. Kind of a rip off if you ask me, but life, lemons, et cetera.

Ragged Top: 5,215'
I got my first view of the Jewell Glacier, and there was no warm fuzzy. It looked downright scary because I didn't know if there was any old snow under the fresh. It might be great or if might be dust on straight ice. A few years back Tommy and I tried the dust on ice approach with limited success - definitely a junk show I did not intend to repeat.  So it was on to to Crystal Lake to suss out snow fields.

The Jewell
Is there old snow under the new?
There was a nice, steep 200' shot straight to the lake with about 1" fresh.  Not ideal, but it is still summer for another 2 weeks, so life, garden, dig, et cetera.

Looking Down
That angry inch was just enough to make the skiing pretty dang good. The sun cups were still there, but barely noticeable making for a smooth ride. It was good fun to spray the fresh slush / snow with each turn.  I noodled to make this fleeting preview last longer.

Today was just a tease of the winter to come. It was better than summer snow, but nowhere near as good as its gonna get. Soon the shit barometer will drop and the winds of shit will build. Soon the mountains will be blanketed from top to bottom, the roads icy, and the sun weak. The storms will line up. Sleep won't seem so important. The base will build. The chairs will spin. Weather reports, snotels, wind readings, and radar will be studied daily and nightly.

Today ratcheted up the anticipation, the stoke, the giddiness of what is to come. Get ready! It will be here soon

Soon, but not soon enough.

 - U.K.