Friday, July 3, 2009

Archangel Valley, AK: July 2, 2009

Back in April, I lamented that the ash would ruin the summer skiing.  I felt my consecutive months streak would be in jeopardy.  I considered finishing my season after the Valdez trip, but Dylan convinced me otherwise.  Just keep it going was the gist of it.  So I did.  I found good snow through May and June.  I found bad snow through May and June.  I also found some half decent snow in July.  

I got up early and made the 90 minute drive to Archangel Valley in the Talkeetna Mountains.  The dirt road leading to the Reed Lake trailhead is notoriously bad.  So once I got off the pavement, I had to keep the Jeep at about 45 mph to fly over the deep potholes and through the ruts.  The suspension is shot but stiff.  It rides like a dream this morning.  I am completely out of control.  At every corner the vehicle "skips/bounces" towards the outside of the road.  It's OK because I have my lights on for safety.   

I arrive at the trailhead in record time.  Upper Reed Lake is about 5 miles up the trail and it is the bottom of the schuss run.  The trail is mellow as it follows a creek up the valley.  The trail is slick as rain soaked clay conspires against me.  The trail is fun as it disappears into a maze of car-sized boulders.  Whistle pigs greet my arrival into the upper valley.  Lower Reed Lake is a glacier blue/green.  I follow the creek up past waterfalls to Upper Reed.  There is still ice covering about 25% of the lake.  Here my adventure starts.  

Bluebird.  I hike up scree along side of the snow.  Sweat stings my eyes and coats the inside of my Smiths.  I can see the entire run.  Garmonts on and commence booting.  It goes quick and soon I am at the pass looking over several glaciers covered with ash and snow.  Upper Reed Lake is far below still showing the the final evidence of a harsh winter.

There are some clouds building but I am in no rush.  A Clifbar, some water.  Man, those clouds are building quick.  A front is pushing up the Bomber Glacier.  There is a very sharp line in the sky delineating blue from black.  And it is coming my way.  Now I'm rushing.  ("You can see Russia from here!")  I hurry down the slope.  Recent snow over the ash makes for fine skiing but the white gets less continuous.  The ash slows me down.  Then the thunder.  The thunder that starts behind you and circles all around you 2 or 3 times.  Echoing off the steep walls of the mountains surrounding you.  There isn't supposed to be weather like this in AK.  I guess no one told the storm.  Now even the ash laden snow gives way to rocks.  There are some ribbons that go lower.  I milk it low.  Real low.  The absurdity of the situation is not lost and I smile.  More swirling thunder.  Shit!  I transition into to hiking garb and work my way around the lake and back to the trail.  The thunder engulfs the valley and the winds pick up.  All of the metal in this entire valley now is residing on back and in my hands.  Hustle.

Thunder, rain.  A hard rail.  A hard hail.  Small hail, larger hail.  I can feel the hail hitting my hood.  Thunder.  Now lightening.  Hail.  Rain.  Wind.  Hustle.
"Nothing's gonna happen."  The Skier Boyz mantra calms me.  The storm is moving into the next valley.  "Nothing's gonna happen."  The black skies are now gray.  Thunder looms, but now in the distance.  A trace a blue.  Far off thunder.  "Nothing's gonna happen."  

Month #21 was an adventure, but they all are to some extent.  I am have my doubts about August, but I had my doubts about May, June, and July.  I suspect that I will take Dylan's advice and "just keep it going."  And after August, it all starts again with late September face shots.  


Monday, June 29, 2009


The butterfly sits on mt superior and is the last snow to melt out due to the two couloirs above it constantly shedding snow into there. I wanted to ski it last year but i was too lazy, so i went up this year.
cool shot of suicide chute, two folks were hiking it then skied it as i was going up.
water flowing on the south face, pretty awesome. my route was up the apron, hit the rock band to the lookers right of the bottom waterfall, follow that straight up next to the waterflow and hit the butterfly, you can see it way up there
skied each wing of the butterfly then down the middle, then i put my hiking boots back on and traversed over from the bottom of the butterfly to about halfway up suicide chute, topped out, skied suicide which was the deffenition of sub par skiing and hiked down the waterfall then fell down part of the waterfall at the bottom of suicide and put my skis back on and avoided inevitable landmines of jagged rocks littered through out the bottom apron. cool ski in a wild location this time of the year.
the turns in the butterfly, if you click it you can actually see them twas a day well spent. hwood lets get a crew up baldy for some july skiing wedensday!

Mt. Shasta, CA

On June 19th Josh Boyd and I made a 24 hr. push from SLC, UT to climb and ski Mount Shasta. Arriving at the Brewer creek trail head at 2 a.m., after a 12 hour drive we slept for two hours then got on the mountain to experience an epic day. It wasn't too bad because we were excited to be in CA and on this mammoth volcano, the second largest in the U.S, 14,140 ft. Todd Glew, who works on the mountain as a guide and road dog met us for the climb and ski. I am almost positive that this is the first time three buffalos from Beverly, MA had stood on top of this volcano together. Our route was the Wintun-Holtum on the north side of the mountain.

The Buffaloes begin their 7,000 ft. climb and a 6,000 ft. descent on magical Mt. Shasta.

Boyd gazes at our line and the summit above in a cloud

It was not a very difficult ascent, but the weather made it interesting, check out the huge clouds below. Typical volcano conditions.

Boyd and Glew a few hundred feet below he summit. This is where the buffaloes caught up to everyone who stayed on the mountain overnight and reached the summit first.

Buffaloes love to roam on top of big mountains!

The Glewstick carving some killer corn con cigarette.
Skiing towards the bottom we were in and out of a foggy haze. Was it the crippler or Shasta?

New Alpiner Boyd fixing the heel and fixing his problems.

The last stretch of snow before we had to hike down.

After skiing Shasta we went to the coast, climbed on the beach and Relaxed with the Arcata locals. I love California. Jake F.

Sunday, June 28, 2009


SKIING Helmet Cam 09 from jonathan fay on Vimeo.

This bad boy opens up with one KILLER april 4th 2009 run down greely hill, powder capiotol of the world. shots like that only achieved with rain-x on the lens, and regular camber skis on my feet. there are some other shots in there of vermont around xmas, some 'satch backcountry, an epically deep april 4th keyhole, and well it all closes with one of my favorite runs of all time. on the run i hit some huge rocks and should have tomahawked 100 vertical feet into little chute, luckily was dressed in all black and have a bit of ninja steeze and rode it out.

thanks if you can SUFFER through the whole thing