In spite of the grim, dry and warm weather around Anchorage so far this winter, the precipitation has been pumping through the Kenai Penninsula and dumping snow up high. The road is still mostly dry requiring some walking through the alders to get to the goods but at least there's skiing. However, the funky weather patterns have created some sketchy deep layers that shed some light on the realities of Alaska skiing that I think are worth discussing. Slick rain crusts and buried surface hoar are currently persistant worries for all who venture up there.
Not sure what to say about this winter except that it's starting to crack me. Each winter that I've been in AK the quality of the season has diminished with each passing year. Some say it's a normal cycle. Others point to profound climate change. Others talk about Biblical prophecy and the end times. Hmmm. Whatever the cause, the skiing has been sucking. I need to catch a break. So do my friends. And it seems it's just not Alaska. Even my favorite ski mountains on the planet, the Tetons, have been seeing their share of weirdness. At least there's snow there.
I’ve been fascinated with light outdoor gear since my first Outward Bound-type course when I was 14 years old. Miles Becker was an OB instructor who started working for a private boarding school in the Bay Area and ran OB-style courses in the North Cascades each summer for the students there. A family friend brought us together and I spent two summers with Miles when I was 14 and 15 years old in those magnificent mountains of Washington. Those two trips turned out to be some of the most formative experiences of my life.
Long before I was a ski alpinist I was a climber. I still am. Actually, I love all the games we play in the mountains. For various reasons, I've always been an average player in these games but, like many of us, love to read about the elite and their antics in the alpine.
The weeks pass and the big storm continues to avoid AK. The temps are right for something good but the clear days persist. Mat and I are still getting out but our tolerance for walking over shitty boulders is starting to wear thin. We've taken to just touring for the sake of scoping terrain but are Jonesing for some real turns.