Archive for the ‘Places’ Category

Turnagain Pass in June

Saturday, June 2nd, 2012

It’s June, which can only mean one thing…more skiing!

Tim, Benji, and I headed to Turnagain Pass on June 2, hoping for a little more crust. We found some decent crust right from the road, but we had our sights set a little higher. We skied up to the ridge on the west side of the road (aka the snowmobile side) hoping to get into Seattle Creek. As we ascended, the snow got softer and softer. Our hope of finding crust on the other side did not materialize, but we still trudged up to the ridge and got some good views. After a few photos, we survived the rotten snow on the descent, then skied around the flats a bit before heading home. Here are Tim’s photos, and here are a couple of mine:

Not exactly crust, but not exactly a bad day out either!

Looking into Seattle Creek – Pan around or click here for a full screen version.

Crust Ski to Reed Lakes

Saturday, May 19th, 2012

By mid-May, I had basically given up on any more crust skiing. With the record-setting winter, there was still snow to be found, but the weather hadn’t been aligning with my schedule, and I figured it wasn’t healthy to stew about it, best just to move on to summer. But then Tim and I got an email from Benji saying that Reed Lakes was still really good. Ed Strabel and the Mat-Su ski club had been grooming the Archangel Road in Hatcher Pass for late season skiing. The grooming ended in early May, but according to Benji, the road was still good enough to get you to primo crust. The weather for the next day (Saturday!) looked good. So game on!

My pictures are below, but you should definitely check out Tim’s photos. His pictures are better, and the first shot is one of my favorite pictures of me on skinny skis. I almost look like I’m shredding it!

Some good climbing to get to the lakes Some good climbing to get to the lakes
Crust Ski To Reed Lakes - P5190020.JPG Crust Ski To Reed Lakes - P5190020.JPG
Crust Ski To Reed Lakes - P5190024.JPG Crust Ski To Reed Lakes - P5190024.JPG
Above lower Reed Lake Above lower Reed Lake
Crust Ski To Reed Lakes - P5190036.JPG Crust Ski To Reed Lakes - P5190036.JPG
Tim (lower left) checks out some snow rollers Tim (lower left) checks out some snow rollers
Upper Reed Lake Upper Reed Lake
Crust Ski To Reed Lakes - P5190056.JPG Crust Ski To Reed Lakes - P5190056.JPG
Not a black and white photo - it just looks like it. Lots of white for May 19th! Not a black and white photo - it just looks like it. Lots of white for May 19th!
Not nearly as good as the photo Tim took of me in the same spot. Need to keep working on my shutter skills. Not nearly as good as the photo Tim took of me in the same spot. Need to keep working on my shutter skills.
A long, fun ride down! A long, fun ride down!
Crust Ski To Reed Lakes - P5190094.JPG Crust Ski To Reed Lakes - P5190094.JPG
Panoramic near upper Reed Lake Panoramic near upper Reed Lake

What a great ski! Both Tim and I were a little dumbfounded that we’d never crust skied up this valley before. It is definitely one of the best.

GPS track went a little haywire, but here it is.

Upper Reed Lake – Pan around or click here for a full screen version.

Williwaw Lakes – Ship Creek Crust Loop

Friday, April 27th, 2012

“There is no way it is skiable,” I thought to myself, “So it can’t hurt to go up and just take a quick look.” Ian, Matias, and I were standing at the high point of the pass between Williwaw Lakes and Long Lake, just behind Elliott Peak in the Chugach front range. What had started as a quick morning crust jaunt up to Williwaw Lakes had already gotten a bit longer, and it was about to be pushed a little further.

We were eyeing the low point in the ridge that separated us from the Ship Creek valley, between Koktoya Peak and Mount Williwaw. Ian suggested maybe we could ski down the backside into the Ship Creek valley. I was skeptical. I’ve been up on that ridge in the summer, and I remembered the backside as being fairly steep – too steep for nordic racing skis. It made me nervous. Besides, that would commit us to a loop that I really didn’t have time for today.

But the view of the Chugach from that ridgeline is sublime…and I did have a little more time…and it couldn’t hurt to look, right?

In half an hour, the three of us were standing on the ridge, admiring the view:

Long Lake Pass overlooking Ship Creek. Click here for a full screen version.

Sure enough it looked pretty steep. Matias said that he was going to hang out in the sun for bit, then head back. I was trying to come up with the right words to tell Ian that I was going to turn back too. But before doing so, I scurried down about 50 yards to a rock outcropping to have a look at the gully directly below us.

I’ll. Be. Damned.

It looked totally skiable. And the conditions were perfect: bomber crust that had an inch of soft corn on top. Hero snow. We were staring at the perfect opportunity to do a pretty cool loop: down into Ship Creek valley, up to Ship Lake, over Ship Pass and back to Glen Alps. We had to do it.

We walked down a couple hundred yards before putting on our skis and descending the gully. It was great skiing. And the upper Ship Creek valley was excellent. I love that area. The best crust skiing in Chugach State Park in my opinion, but it takes a couple of hours to get there from any direction.

We hoofed it up and over Ship Pass and cruised back to Glen Alps.

Ship Pass. Click here for a full screen version.

A fantastic loop! But if you give it a try – remember the descent into Ship Creek valley is east-facing so it starts softening up early. Hit it early to minimize avalanche danger, but not so early that it is rock hard.

GPS Track here

Pass between Williwaw and Long Lakes Pass between Williwaw and Long Lakes
Looking towards Ship Pass Looking towards Ship Pass
The gully we skied down to Ship Creek valley The gully we skied down to Ship Creek valley
Heading down Heading down
Ship Creek valley - the best crust in Anchorage! Ship Creek valley - the best crust in Anchorage!
Williwaw - Upper Ship Creek Crust Ski - P4270056.JPG Williwaw - Upper Ship Creek Crust Ski - P4270056.JPG
Williwaw - Upper Ship Creek Crust Ski - P4270059.JPG Williwaw - Upper Ship Creek Crust Ski - P4270059.JPG
Williwaw - Upper Ship Creek Crust Ski - P4270064.JPG Williwaw - Upper Ship Creek Crust Ski - P4270064.JPG
Ship Lake Ship Lake
Ship Pass Ship Pass

Crust Ski To Twentymile Glacier

Wednesday, April 11th, 2012

The Twentymile River valley has lots of great terrain for crust skiing, and a couple of cool lakes to explore.  But it can be finicky.  Often times, when enough melting has occurred to create crust, the alders have started popping up, or the section near the road has turned to swamp.  You need a lot of snow to get a good crust window.  So this year Twentymile, like most other crust destinations in Southcentral, was the best I’ve ever seen it.

Bill and I only had a few hours before work, so we made a quick out and back run straight to the glacier.

GPS Track here

Heading upriver Heading upriver
Hope you sharpened your edges Hope you sharpened your edges
Twentymile Glacier Twentymile Glacier
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There's white gold in them thar hills! There's white gold in them thar hills!
Twentymile Glacier Crust Ski - P4110029.JPG Twentymile Glacier Crust Ski - P4110029.JPG
Twentymile Glacier Crust Ski - P4110030.JPG Twentymile Glacier Crust Ski - P4110030.JPG
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Twentymile Glacier Crust Ski - P4110036.JPG Twentymile Glacier Crust Ski - P4110036.JPG
Cruising along the Glacier River Cruising along the Glacier River
Heading home Heading home
Yeehaw! Yeehaw!

 

Crust Loop in the City

Tuesday, April 10th, 2012

We have had an incredible crust skiing season here in South Central Alaska.  A record-breaking amount of snow, followed by a lots of sunshine and freeze-thaw cycles during April and early May.  You couldn’t have dreamed up a better crust recipe.  Nearly every crust skiing hotspot was in-season starting in the beginning of April, and some of them are still going strong as we close in on June!

I had big ideas about cashing in a lot of my vacation time to make the most of this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.  But in the end, there were just too many real-life issues and responsibilities for me to essentially play hooky for a month.  I have to say, I think I’ve dealt with my lack of adequate crust fixes quite well.  And by that I mean I haven’t killed anyone yet.

So I only got out for a handful of crust skis this spring.  But they were all great, and most of them took me to places I’d never crust skied before.  The first one worth posting about was a loop I did in Anchorage.  I got the idea after doing the long commute loop in January and then seeing Tim’s crust ski from Oceanview to Westchester.  I decided to do a loop down Campbell Creek to the coastal flats, around the flats to Westchester Lagoon and then up Chester Creek to complete the loop.  I was able to stay off-trail and on-crust most of the way along Campbell Creek.  The coastal flats were amazing skiing, especially the stuff on the north side of Kincaid.  There is something really cool about skiing along a few feet away from where the ocean is lapping at the crust’s edge.  Getting back up Chester Creek kind of sucked, but even there and through the university area I was able to find intermittent spots of crust along side the trail.

I didn’t take my camera on this one because I didn’t think I’d be going anywhere interesting or remarkable.  After all, I was in the city the whole time.  But man, I was wrong. So many cool areas on this ski. For me,  the added benefit of this loop is that I could park right at my office on the Campbell Creek trail, so everyone thought I was hard at work all morning.

GPS Track here

Looking back and looking ahead

Tuesday, February 28th, 2012

Oh, hey stranger.  Haven’t seen you in a while.  I haven’t been hanging out here in blogland.  No real adventures so far this winter.  But there are a few things afoot that are worth mentioning, so I decided to check back in.

2011 White Mountains 100

First of all, I recently noticed that I never posted my race report from last year’s White Mountains 100 race.  I remember jotting down lots of race details shortly after the race.  But the story was kind of dry and boring.  I wanted to work on it some more, so I set it aside…and completely forgot about it.  But I recently rediscovered it, and I guess it is worth posting even in its current state. So for what it is worth… here it is, eleven months late.

2012 White Mountains 100

Yeah, so in that aforementioned race report, you might notice that I said that I would definitely be back to do the WM100 again, but definitely not this year.  And I was definitely quite definite of that.  But yet somehow I find my name on this list.  Whoops.  Long story short, my brother-in-law (I guess technically he’s not my brother-in-law, he is my wife’s sister’s husband, but that takes too much effort to explain.) expressed some interest in the race.  I encouraged him to do it, and in a moment of weakness I even said I’d do it again if he did it.  Of course, I was thinking that with a lottery to enter the WM100 this year, there was no way we’d both get in.  So it would be a pretty easy commitment to back out of.

His name is Lou.  He is #49 on that roster list.  Somehow we both got in. My plans to sit around and eat bon bons all winter went up in smoke.

 

Tokositna Loop

Sunday, February 12th, 2012

I like a lot of variety in my ski routes, and so I don’t often do the same trips multiple times.  But this was my third time doing the Curry Ridge Rider’s Tokositna Loop.   It is such a great ski, its worth doing a few times.

Rob, Bill, Kate, Chris and I are all trying to get ready for the White Mountains 100, and the Tokositna loop is great training for that.  For a little variation, we skied it counter-clockwise this year, and I have to say, I think I like that way better.  We hit a pretty good snowstorm that dumped at least 4 inches of snow on us during the day.  So it was slow going and I didn’t take any photos, but it was fun and really good training.

GPS track here

 

Frosty Bottom 50

Saturday, January 7th, 2012

I did the Frosty Bottom 50 mile race this year for the first time since 2007.  The race goes from Kincaid Park to Hilltop and back to Kincaid.  You  can bike it, ski it or run it.  I am sure you can guess my chosen mode of travel.

My friends Seth and Bill were doing the 25 mile version and I had a great time skiing with them  to Hilltop.  Unfortunately, I didn’t eat or drink enough during that first half of the race, and I paid for it in the second half.  On the way back down the Chester Creek trail, I finally slowed a bit to reload on food and water, but by then it was too late.  Chet Fehrman caught and passed me at Westchester Lagoon.  I rebounded slightly on the coastal trail, and managed to keep Chet in sight, but I just couldn’t reel him in.  I finished as the second skier, 36 seconds behind Chet.  I was happy with my time and the way my body performed.

Last time I did this race, there were seven people who finished the 50, and about 30 racers in both the 25 & 50 mile events.  Man, things have changed.  There were 70 people in the 50 miler, and close to 150 in the in 25 this year.  Wow, not bad for a day that was barely above zero degrees F!

Results here

GPS track here

The Long Commute

Monday, January 2nd, 2012

In early January, Bill and I were looking to do a long ski, but close to home.  My original idea was to try to ski from his house to my house, taking the long way around town.  We ended up modifying the route to minimize walking, and it became more like a ski from my office to my house.

I try to ski to work occasionally during the winter, and it takes about an hour each way.  Clearly that wasn’t going to cut it for a “long” ski, so we took inspiration from Tim Kelley  (as usual) and used the Anchorage Coastal Wildlife Refuge to connect the two main multi-use trails in town.  We started down the Campbell Creek trail, across the amazingly groomed trail on Campbell Lake, along a snowmobile track on the coastal plain to Kincaid Park, then took the Coastal Trail to the Chester Creek trail, and the Tour trail to Service High School.

A four and a half hour commute home from work – probably not something I can fit in every day!

View our GPS track & stats here.

The Long Commute - IMG_1333.JPG The Long Commute - IMG_1333.JPG
The Long Commute - IMG_1336.JPG The Long Commute - IMG_1336.JPG

On the ridge between Wolverine and Elliot

Sunday, July 31st, 2011

Another great ridgeline in Chugach State Park, excellent views of the front range.

Click here for a full screen version.

Thanks to Ian and Josh for waiting for me. Not my best day.


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