Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Alyeska, (Again) Turnagain Pass and Peterson Creek

As planned, we headed to the resort the following morning. The High Traverse, the North Face and Max's Traverse were all closed the previous day.  We got our ticket and lined up in somewhat one of the shortest lineup i've seen for a powder day!
All the areas previously mentioned were closed at the opening and as everyone were skiing under the chair and ripping the overnight freshies, it was easy to feel the anxiety of everyone to hit those areas. People were lining up next to the gates waiting for the green light from the ski patrols. The High Traverse was the first to open and everyone rushed to get a line. 
We got in line and got a few laps while people were packing at the gates of the North Face. We missed the opening and showed up about 15 minutes after it opened. We quickly understood while everyone were lining up since the terrain is big and steep. There were still some fresh turns to be done and we got some good lines. 
We pretty much stayed on the North Face (located pretty much under the Tram) the remaining of the day. That was certainly a really nice way for Amelie to end her trip in Alaska as she was flying at 22h30 the same night!
After some packing, we drove back to Anchorage to drop her.
I was now only with Babiche for the next 2 weeks. 

After some midnight shopping (this is somewhat weird to have the grocery opened 24h for me), we drove back to Girdwood.

The following day was a bit under the cloud as we leave Girdwood to drive back to Turnagain Pass. On our way, the cloud became fog and as we were driving up the pass, the blue sky showed up!
We figured it would be nice to ski Tincan for which Babiche has heard a lot of good thing. We were certainly not the only one to have thought about this since it was probably the most crowded skintrack I've ever seen! 
As you get higher up, the ridge become quite narrow and sharp and there was some really nice couloirs on the north side. We didn't know exactly were we were going so we kept hiking. We eventually got to a big opening were one after the other, skiers were dropping on this wide open face! 
We got inline and I had probably my longest run of the year! By the bottom, my legs were burning. It was weird for me not to stop to take some pictures but it was too good to stop! We got back up for another run. Most of the couloirs that we've walk pass now had 1 or 2 tracks in them so we picked one each and dropped in!!
This was another great steep run on the north side of Tincan!

From the bottom, we figured we could easily ski out. If we had knew, we would have probably hike back up because we had to pole quite a lot. I think it is not much effort to hike a little bit back on the ridge instead of pushing your way out at the bottom.
We came back the following day to Eddies which lay just north of Tincan. The terrain looked a bit mellow compare to Tincan, but since we've both have never skied it, we gave it a go. The bottom part is certainly a pain since there are a lot of up and down. I think the approach in certainly one of the reason why there is not as many people in Eddies as in Tincan. 
Once you're past the bottom, the climb is much steady. The skintrack gently climb the rolling slope all the way up. The terrain was as we thought (a bit flat) but due to the beautiful weather, we couldn't complain too much!!!
We then figured, it would be great to try something different than Turnagain. Since it has been really easy to get a lot of information from the people we met on the skintrack, we headed to Peterson Creek just (about 5 miles) south of Girdwood.
We parked straight on the road and started to climb the drainage on a newly put skintrack. Due to the avy conditions, we were quite happy to realize that our trail-breaker has open the skintrack on a ridge that was climbing all the way to a plateau. From this plateau, there is a terrific view of the Peterson Headwall. We spend about an hour warming up in the sun and looking at different lines that would have been possible with better snow conditions. 
We eventually cut our dream short and headed down. This is really a great run as the slopes drop quite constantly all the way back to the creek bed. The sun has started to bake most of the face that it sees. There is a lot of north facing aspect on this run to make it down of fluffy snow!
Today was my first day off since I started skiing in Alaska. My credit card company has cancelled my credit card with which I've rented the car we were using. We now had to drive back to Anchorage to fix this issue…. thanks VISA!!!
Since the grocery in Girdwood is really limited and expensive, we bought food for almost the rest of our trip in Anchorage. We also use some of our spare time to practice our crevasse rescue skills. Babiche school me in an elementary schoolyard the basic for our next little adventure!
Stay tuned for more, winter is not over yet!

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