Monday, January 11, 2010

Super Bowl and Gold Pan

There is no ski touring map for Turnagain.  The USGS maps have only 2 named features for the 8 drainages that are generally considered to comprise Turnagain Pass.  I have always heard names tossed around in conversation, on avi boards, forums, bars, and blawgs.  I knew the names and not the landmarks.  I knew where I wanted to go, but not how to get there.  I need a guide.

Friday night, the word on the street was the skiing was ass.  I was at the bar pounding $2 drafts and considering going deep.  More beer or call Bass.  At least Bass will have a current ski report. First another IPA.  

It had rained during the week and optimism was low but we decided to make a go of it.  My bender can wait another 24 hours.  We were skinning towards Corn Biscuit by 8:30 AM.  The plan: get some elevation quick and hopefully climb above the rain crust.  We decided on the 4th North Facing chute under mostly clear skies and flat light.   Dave dropped in and it looked good!  It figured it was Dave making some sucker turns through breakable crud but the snow was actually AK super-hero cream.  If only the light were better....

Dave off of Corn Biscuit

Uber-skinner Dave on his Karhu Guides and Dynafit one buckle boots came out of the gate hot.  Alright, let's go. I gave chase up to the head of the drainage. We took a left at the pass and summited Super Bowl Peak. The North Face off the summit starts steep and slowly mellows out into the valley below.  Roller balls gave the slope some definition and I was able to open it up a bit.  "Man, if only the visibility was better."

We hooked up with the skinner Dave had just put in.  We summited Super Bowl again, but this time Gold Pan called. The possibilities in the Gold Pan Cirque are endless.  Steeps, couloirs, glaciers, faces and completely untracked.  

Dave nearing the crest of Gold Pan

From Gold Pan Peak looking South
(Grand Daddy Chute on the far left)

Unbelievably it was Dave's 1st trip into this corner of the Kenai as well.  We sussed a line from the summit.  The cornice shrank to a manageable size above a small spine creating the perfect entrance.  The aspect had a bit of South going for it so the light was working for us.  The snow was excellent and the skiing effortless.  Sublime.  

We exited via Bertha Creek drainage.  The snow slowly changed finally settling on rock hard rain-runneled concrete.  Loud and fast.  Perfect for the tra-scent back to the auto.

Neacola's (left) and Tordrillo's (right) on the drive home

Cus D'Amato