The arrival of snow in the high mountains of South Central Alaska is eminent but Karol, Jen and I managed to tag one of the area’s classic ridge traverses recently, sneaking a good one in before snow closes the door on running up high. Girdwood to Indian via the high ridgeline that looms above the Seward Highway spanning between California Creek to the South and Penguin Peak to the North is one of the best outings found here. Roman Dial, no stranger to Alaskan adventure, calls it THE best ridge traverse he’s done. Hyperbole? Perhaps. But it’s been on our lists for a while and we were psyched to have a look.
As promised, the weather cleared for my final day in Las Leñas. Unfortunately, the epic wind returned, as well, which might be fitting for my first round there. It started out “breezy” although Marté was not open first thing. I think the guys knew what was coming. Because, by the afternoon, things were getting Biblical up high. All this didn’t stop me from getting my share, of course and I demonstrated significant resolve on my second lap. More on that later.
One more day in Las Leñas. For a trip that started out with much to be desired, it’s ending with just what I came for. My only regret is that I didn’t have a partner to ski all these amazing lines with. It was strange dropping into one 2,000’ 45˚ couloir after another completely alone. Sure, there were tracks but I hardly saw anyone on the ten or so runs I took from the top of the mountain down the imposing south face. As a result, the pictures to follow leave something to be desired but they give you the general idea.
It’s hard to believe how little skiing I’ve done on this trip as I come down to my last four days. But winter has been hitting the area hard, which is good for the area but tough on tourists with limited time. Like they say, pay your money, take your chances.
I’m not sure how I made all those long ass flights in coach over the years traveling to far flung corners of the world. I guess youth makes us tolerant. It seems I lack some of both these days. The only thing that made the 13-hour flight to Santiago tolerable was the easy access to movies. I think I watched five. Good to catch up on cinema, you know. But the airline industry has us by the balls and they can pretty much do whatever they want. Witness the complete stuffing of most flights and the gradual squeeze on our personal space. I had one centimeter between my knees and the tray table. Is extra room worth thousands of dollars? Maybe.