Monday, December 8, 2008

It's the lighting

It’s all about the lighting this weekend kids. Between the high speed powder sprays, airborne maneuvers, involuntary snowdepth tests, breaking rays of sun and wild cloud formations, the mountains were a pure spectacle; these are some of the best pics I’ve seen since I got here.

After getting a clean bill of health for my suby early Friday morning, I preceded to drive her over 10 miles out on Mystery Creek Rd, a 30 something mile 4wd haul road connecting the Sterling Highway with Chicaloon Bay.
I’d originally expected to hike in and veer off in search of birds, but when I found the gates flung wide and the road plowed, I figured with a full tank of gas, I would go as far as I could. Plodding through the frozen mud holes I eventually crossed paths with two oil workers in a big pick-up coming the other way. You can imagine the looks on their faces when they saw the little wagon with out-of-state plates in the middle of this long off road, haha. Anyway, it turned out the road was actually closed, though it had been plowed for construction equipment to get out, and thus the gates had been open. They weren’t upset, but said I’d have to go back and wait for them to lock things up if I wanted to hunt in the area.
I decided to change plans and went for a bushwhack in the Watson Lake area. No grouse, not even a flush, but pretty good pics.

Despite waking early Saturday morning to the sound of rain, I held out hope and drove to Turnagin Pass in search of powder. Last week was quiet and cold in Prince William Sound and the snows settled pretty well.

I pulled into the lot at Tincan finding it much emptier than my last trip, but Josh, Ethan and Brian were suiting up. I was pretty happy to meet up and ski with them again.

Conditions up to treeline were pretty bad. We were sweating in the the 40 degree heat crunching over wet crispy snow. We could see the summit area had about 10 skiers on it, and was getting pretty tracked out, but decided to push all the way to the top anyway. Maybe 5 minutes after making this decision, we hit the freeze line, and the snow turned to fine powder beneath us almost in seconds.

As we closed in on the main bowl we noticed that though some areas were pretty worked over, other areas further down the ridge away from the uptrack were nearly untouched. We ended up staying above the the freeze line all day making some high speed powder runs.

This does pretty good justice to both the grade of the climb, and the number of skiers we shared the hill with. Imagine that this seems crowded!

This is sort of like, a lift line.

A lot of tracks in the main bowl

Same pic of the ridge, without the people

Pretty good perspective of the accent

Part of the beauty of the day was the complete lack of wind and relatively warm temps paired with good visibility. Normally on reaching a summit it's a race to stack on the layers and get back down before the effects of exposure start to set in. Saturday we could have hung out up top all day were it not for the thrill of gravity.

Ethan and Josh looking like a last run

Brian, Josh and Ethan, in order, drop into the first half of the last run of the day

This is what an friend from Idaho called a hero shot. Josh watches Ethan come tearing down.

Ethan and I both felt it prudent to at some point, check the depth of the snow.

Brian, hero shot. I think the macros was on, but somehow it still worked.

If these three guys aren't great to ski with for their company and level headed snow smarts on the slopes, at the very least I have some pics of yours truly to post. Thanks Ethan!

That, is a powdery white smile.

haha, dunno.

Building speed...

For the launch...

Score! The snow is good, haha. Someone had to check. (Notice there's an impact crater above where I'm buried, I think that's double points)


McConnell "Macky" Franklin said...

That is beautiful! I love the pictures. Makes me miss skiing just a bit. Anyone do any big tricks??
Sounds like you're having a blast!

Dante said...

Thanks Macky.
No big tricks, just lots of fun out there.