Nope. Still not snowing up here in Alaska. The rain has stopped and the sun is shining. At least it's cold. What snow is left is staying put...for now. Most locals say they can't remember a skiers' winter this grim. Many have given up and have taken the mountain bikes out. The Nordic trail grooming crew is trying to work magic turning water ice into skiable snow. So far, it's working. For ski mountaineers, we're not going down without a fight. The coverage is there, if not the quality. You just have to be willing to walk to it. This past weekend, Mat (Anchorage Avalanche Center) and I did just that.
This site’s been quiet lately. We’re in the middle of the worst winter in several years. They say in Alaska you have to have a short weather memory. The frequent rain and wind can be demoralizing in both summer and winter. For skiers who only know AK from ski porn, well, that’s mostly fantasy. The reality is more painful and far less glamorous. I like to say that when it’s good, it’s pretty damn good but you’re gonna have to wait for it.
The Talkeetnas are a big range but easy access is limited to a few points. Hatcher Pass is the easiest and there's lots of terrain to keep us busy. But I've found myself going back to the same spots each time up there, mainly because they're fun and predicable. But this past week with some time off from work, my partners and I have explored beyond our usual haunts and have turned up some fantastic skiing.
It's funny. I remember seeing various posts about this topic over the last several years and I completely ignored them. I kinda sorta knew what they were talking about but I didn't have any issues with my mounts so I never indulged. Until now.
I'm not sure what's up with the holiday weather this year but Thanksgiving and Christmas in South Central Alaska has been damn sweet. At least in the Talkeetnas, anyway. Some of the other ranges are still waiting for good conditions but Hatcher Pass and been the place to be over the last month. It hasn't been all perfect. We've had our share of wind and freezing rain in between but seem to come up with powder and clear skies when it matters. Best gifts, EVAR!