Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Skiing and Biking

The storm has been raging at Turnagain for the entire month. Avi danger has been considerable or high for 18 of the past 21 days. Alyeska and their 200" month to date was a wonderful constellation prize on Friday, but I wanted to get away from the crowds and low angle trees.

Fortunately, Hatcher has a deep snowpack and much less new snow than Turnagain. Reports of good skiing and stable conditions had me intrigued. With no objective or agenda, I elected to devote the day to exploring terrain near the Mint Trailhead. There were some interesting options visible from the road and I eventually decided to attempt the ridge just east of Delia Creek. The approach was nice but the ridge got steep up higher so I decided to take the pash of least resistance. This led into the drainage east of Delia Creek. It was fun just poking around and enjoying the filtered sunlight. My expectations were low so it took me by surprise when the upper drainage came into view.

This upper cirque has 270° of steep skiing and tops out at over 5,000.' It was easy to regain the original ridge from this side, but the higher you climb the more exposure you get. There are about 8 west facing shots that drop into Delia (visible form the car-park). Up higher the ridge wraps left as it approaches Arkose Ridge. I retraced my skinner down the ridge and dropped into a west facing aspect and schussed some boot deep creamy powder down to Delia Creek.

Lower down the brush is open enough for easy turning although the exit was a bit convoluted.

In honor of Mardi Gras, I decided to celebrate Fat Tuesday a day early. Fat bikes are everywhere in Anchorage and they are a hoot. Click here for a short history of fat bikes.

The Coastal Trail stays along the ocean from downtown Anchorage past the Airport and on to Kincaid Park. It's mostly flat with some climbing at either end.

The bike handles great at slow speed and is a blast to ride. The large low pressure tires are perfect on packed trails but don't work so well in deep powder.

Cruising is easy and going fast is a great workout. The Coastal Trail is about as non-technical as you can get. Next time, I'll get into some more interesting riding. I was on a Salsa Mukluk 3 with 2 x 9 gears, disc brakes, and some really nice reflectors. Try to borrow or rent one of these ASAP; you won't regret it.

- U.K.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

AML Photos

click here

And a new 5.12 in his honor: