Tuesday, March 5, 2013

AK in February

We had a late start to the ski season in Alaska. Low snow coupled with holiday obligations conspired to limit my ski days. The only solution to this problem was to ski every day in February. With rapidly increasing daylight, after work skiing becomes the rule.

I haven't skied an entire month since high school. The only way for me to way to accomplish this would be ski-centric cross-training.  I mixed in Nordic, resort, backcountry, and volunteering with Challenge AK. 

There were some great days. There were some mediocre days, and then there was that one awful day. I never thought it was possible to have a bad day of skiing until I ate lunch at the Hot Tainted Mayo Deli. I felt like shit all afternoon and at the trailhead I did not want to get out of the truck. The February Challenge convinced me otherwise. Two steps later and my "No Hurl Streak" was over. After the unpleasantness, I felt good enough to give it a go. Twenty minutes later, I realized my error. The symphony coming from my lower G.I. indicated that an ass-mergency was imminent.  After besmirching an innocent pine, I called it quits and skied back to the car. 

The drive home was torture. More than once I pulled over because I was about to pass out. At home it was impossible to warm up even with all the covers, 2 sleeping bags, and an electric heater. After 14 hours of sleep, I was back at work and was able to rally 2200' of untracked powder that afternoon.

West Bowl Redemption
Throughout the month, the days grew longer and my fitness improved allowing for bigger after work adventures. The snow conditions drastically improved throughout the month with snow falling 27 out of the 28 days.  By late February; it was on!

Gordon Lyon: February 26, 3,400' vert
A nice bonus for February after work skiing are the views around sunset.
Top of North Bowl

Above the Fog

Views of the Alaska range never fail to impress. 

I skied at different locations trying to stay out of a rut although the constant refresh of new snow drew me back to old favorites more than once.  Even though I was solo about half the time, the best days were spent showing friends some of my favorite zones. 

Silver Tip
March will be more relaxed, but with the conditioning from February, a deep base, and good touring partners, I expect great things from the next 31 days.

 - U.K.

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