Well, January 22nd came and the snow finally started falling in South Central AK. Truth be told, it's been snowing plenty above 2,500 feet but the more common haunts have been hurting. The telling indicator is that I'm ice climbing again. Fun but seems so much scarier and dangerous than skiing. Good for my head, though. But the arrival of the a real winter storm and cold temps, "grumpy Brian" was replaced with "hopeful/psyched Brian". That's a good thing for the people I work with. I was giddy all day.
Goddamn it's been a tough few months for the ski alpinism community. We've lost some of our best and my heroes keep falling. Today, Dave Rosenbarger died high above the Hellbroner on the Italian side of Mont Blanc near Chamonix.
Can't say too much excitement has happened since I last wrote. We've had more rain in town and some light snow up high. The winds have paid a visit and ravaged the Kenai. Hatcher Pass has done better recently and was in decent form this past weekend. There're still plenty of sharks to be discovered and I've spent every evening tending to my ski's wounds. But at least we're skiing.
Winter in AK continued its reluctant trickle over the holiday. The weather is decidedly unsettled with very little local precipitation and slightly better returns in the Turnagain area. Lower elevations remain bare but the high mountains are getting fatter. A scary buried hoar layer seems to be stabilizing so the hazard is diminishing for now. But more weird weather approaches so who knows what we'll get after this incoming blast.
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.