As regular readers will know, I’ve let most of the past couple weeks pass without comment around these parts as I’ve been occupied by Wilson’s and Mania’s most recent visit. This is now Mania’s second and Wilson’s fifth spring visiting Alaska hoping to ski, and I’d dare to say they got better skiing on this trip then in any of their previous visits. Where as the weather made last year’s trip seemed like some nightmarish restaurant where we were stuck waiting for a meal that never came, this trip was like bingeing at an incredible buffet. Each day taking a trip in Wilson’s rental car to fill our plates with runs in Turnagain, Valdez, Girdwood and Hatcher Pass, barely leaving enough time to digest between courses.
That’s not to say we didn’t have our share of the usual issues. I crashed my snowmachine into a tree in Hope, Mania forgot non-critical pieces of his equipment 60 percent of the time and Tim got hit with a 300 dollar speeding ticket in Eureka. We kicked of avalanches in Hope, cut slabs on Tin Can, and got clouded out in Valdez. Except this time, despite the usual helping of adversity, we went out into the field for all but 4 days, and always came home with proud lines under each arm.
Our most plentiful take came on a wednsday afternoon in Valdez, strangely in the middle of a cycle of excellent skiing in Turnagain Pass. After a couple of decent days we stepped up to a line on the north side of Eddie’s Wilson and I had eyed a year earlier on his visit, and I’d been hoping to ski ever since. We got a bit of a late start as Seany B, who’d long wanted to ski the line as well, was applying for a job and couldn’t leave till noon. Despite the late start, we didn’t see a soul on the voyage, the sun was out, the snow was velvet, all four of us skied it in a single pitch, and we avoided all the ravines out the way out. That night we celebrated excessively and planned on sleeping in, but the next morning Wilson and Mania woke me up, asking if I thought they should go to Valdez. Our good friend Karitas had called while I was sleeping, and offered them the chance to go Heli Skiing with him at H20. Wilson mulled over the possibilities on the toilet before deciding to go for it, Mania was enthusiastic and I reluctantly went along thinking I would be needed as some kind of chaperone or could go for a solo ski tour in Valdez while the two of them were flying. Wilson had already been ticketed so we didn’t make it wasn’t until 1:30 that we met Karitas and the helicopter in Valdez. I thought I’d be dropping Mania and Wilson off before looking for a place to skin, but Karitas quickly made it clear that I was needed, they had a private helicopter and only himself, Wilson and Mania were going, when there was room for 5. I took my skins out of my bag, and put a harness on. We were in the air by 3, and by 3:30 Karitas was delivering the goods (pictured above and bellow).
We started off on Wally’s World for our first run (a second descent), then moved on to Upper 49ers (top video) looking to refresh our palates on some lighter fare, before trying Once Ridden Twice Shy. From there we had to wait a bit, we passed the time by playing jokes on Dean, calling on the radio to ask if we could borrow the helicopter for some late evening laps on Crudbusters. Once we got picked up we moved on to a mellower line on Callahan’s before getting a first descent on what would become known as Island Time. Everything went smooth, and without problems, until our final run, when Mania managed to get his pants stuck on the basket of the helicopter and get hung upside down. Luckily he lived and the helicopter flew away safely. We were back at the car around 9, everyone sporting massive smiles and content from an all time epic day.
Since then we’ve been all over the map. We spent a weekend skiing from Seany B’s cabin in Hope, skied a couple of days in Turnagain, went sledding, and hit up some great north facing lines in Hatcher Pass. The skiing has been good, Mania went back tired, and Wilson is claiming he’ll be moving here for next winter. We shall see, we shall see, but first I’ve got to finish off this winter before I worry about the next one.