—Designer drug users have become more prevalent in Downtown Anchorage than chronic inebriates, according to the security director for the Anchorage Downtown Partnership.
April 19, 2013
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April 19, 2013
The horror of January and early February is no longer bothering me as the skiing has been consistently good for long enough that I’ve completely lost track of time. Weeks and months are all mixed together as days relate to each other more by the similarities of snow conditions and what was skied rather then their postion on a calender. Yesterday will stand out in my memory for some time though, as it was the real life version of the stereotypical ‘epic April day in AK’, the type of day I missed out on of last season and which I managed to completely forget was coming in my rainy mid winter thin snowpack depression. Its extremely reassuring to know days like yesterday can not only happen but sew themselves so seamlessly into everyday life that they don’t really feel significant at the time.
I walked home from work yesterday afternoon, changed clothes, and walked out the door with my skis and boots on my shoulder. After about 20 minutes walking down the road I switched over to skis and skins. I had skied the shoulder of Eccles the day prior and was pretty confident in the conditions and had planned on skiing Wart Face down to the lake (my lines the top picture). The approach was uneventful, skinning in a t-shirt while listening to BBC podcasts I found myself up top sooner then expected. From above the center of the roll over into the face looked a little cross loaded, so I skied along the skiers right of the face, with the idea of being able to bail to the ridge, before cutting into the center. The snow was perfect Alaskan velvet, and sluffed from every turn for some extra fun and a nice cloud of snow in the corner of my eye as I hit the apron. I’ve got a huge smile on my face just thinking about it. From there I skinned back up and, bumped into the Mike Records crew (who has some tasty TT43 pics)on top, then hit the mellower bowl in the far left of the top picture for more perfect snow. Fantastic day, hopefully more like it to come.
April 13, 2013
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The last month has been fantastic. Equal parts snow and sunshine with manageable avalanche conditions. April has thus far been significantly colder then January, so the snow quality has been above average, and the extended day light allows turns till about 930 now.
Checked off a couple lines on my regional hit list, including the north couloir of Heney (pictured top), and gave a new line off Murchinson an attempt this afternoon, but mostly have just been lapping sunny powder with no one around.
Today was the last official day for Mt. Eyak, despite still having tons of snow and great coverage, but I’m told they still be offering occasional bumps to shorten the trip up the ridge. The closing day bbq brought out what looked to my eyes to be the years biggest crowd, and the free burgers were fantastic. Really everything is perfect except for the state of my bike (pictured bellow), which got run over by some slednecks and is mangled beyond repair.
March 18, 2013
Skiing has been fantastic recently. Colder temps, with occaisonal night time flurries with either high clouds or sunny skies during the day for the last week.
Skied the center chute on Mt. Eccles (pictured above) yesterday, and have been making a habit out of closing days spent skiing elsewhere with late afternoon trips up Mt. Eyak for evening laps into Hippie Cove (pictured bellow). Hopefully the wonderful conditions continue through spring.
March 13, 2013
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Sunshine and fresh snow while being stuck working in the liquor store the past two afternoons had me feeling extremely antsy to get out this morning before the predicted storm rolled in this afternoon. I’d had the rib pictured above in my mind for some time and figured today was the opportunity to give it a go. A couple of turns on stiff windboard up high before the snow turned to alaskan velvet a quarter of the way down. Its like a different world from the bullshit weather of January and February. The last couple of weeks the skiing has been fantastic around here, and with fat flakes falling outside the bar it seems set to continue.
March 8, 2013
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It’s currently pouring rain in Cordova and I’m at the library stealing internet while realizing that the weather isn’t going to improve anytime soon, so I’ll post some general Mt. Eyak hype that is long overdue on this site. The face pictured above is the west face of the ridge and Mt Eyak, accessed by a very short (20 minute) hike from the lift’s top station. It empties into a horrible terrain trap which is scatered with huge mangled trees deposited by previous slides, so it not often safe to ski. But when its safer, like it has been the previous few days, the variety of lines on offer with easy access from the top of a chair rivals anywhere I’ve been before. Local Highschoolers have been squeezing in laps from the peak between school getting out and sunset for the last few days.
The lift runs sporadically, opening at 1 or 2 in the afternoon a couple of days a week- depending on the conditions. Openings are announced via facebook posts and a recorded answering machine message. When not open the lift crew (who’s almost alway up shovelling on closures as the lift is prone to getting burried) will fire up the lift to offer a ride to the top station, drastically shortening any hike up the ridge (top picture), which also has plenty of tree lines for stormier days.
The most notable terrain directly off the lift would be The Darkside (pictured above), a couple hundred feet of steep, west facing trees covered with of drops and pillows. It’s comparable to the best terrain off the Wildcat lift at Alta except with an exit traversse to the left rather then the right. The other common ski line is the lift line known as Towers, which is kind of stair stepped with steep rollovers and both plenty of options as well as small jumps carved out along the sides of the run. Predictably but also dissapointingly I’ve yet to see a chairlift gap attempted despite the obvious possiblity.
The single groomer Mambo (which begins at the midstation) have been a real treat. Its narrow with a couple long corners that are a treat on high speed lift maps, and as with all of Mt. Eyak the views are above average.
I’m far from an expert on Alaskan ski hills, I also have yet to visit Eaglecreast, but I’m both shocked and impressed that tiny Cordova has a ski hill, that when you considering the backcountry terrain and open boundaries policy has arguably the best ski hill in the state. Alyeska will remain massively bigger but really doesn’t have much more to offer then Mt. Eyak. Its also shocking when you consider Cordova’s obvious limitations (small, inaccessible, expensive everything and few tourists) that no other community in the state (the valley, valdez, seward etc.) has been able to put together anything comparable.
March 5, 2013
The skiing has been fantastic in Cordova since friday. Stable snow and sunshine with only occasional clouds. Sunday I’d planned on skiing the west face of Heney, but it was wrapped in clouds all day, so Leo and Ben took me up Wolverine, and taught me a good way around the nasty cornice above the main slide path. A fantastic lap with very smooth easy skiing snow. I thought that run was it for the day, but I ended up lapping the chair at Mt. Eyak in the afternoon and taking another lap from the peak down to Hippy Cove at dusk after being asked by a friend to hike the ridge later that evening.
This mornings patchy clouds slowly turned into an inversion as Leo and I went up Bob Korn. We took the same route as we had earlier this winter, through the ravine and eventually booting up the face. The snow was beggining to show a little crust after the warm night Sunday, but it was still cold enough up high to ski fresh.
The cloud layer was like mid run halo around the peak, so the run progressed from bright sunshine up top, through four or five cautious white out turns in the clouds, then finally great lower visability for speeding to the bottom. I am feeling fantastic after a couple good days on skis. It amazes me how quick things can turn around.