I just made my first ski trip to Alaska! There were two goals I had that drove me to travel there:
- I wanted to see what Alaska had to offer. Jimmy had been working in the Alaska range, and had mentioned all of the opportunities for cool adventure up there. This was a chance to do spend sometime within a relatively organized schedule, where I could explore the opportunities for future trips
- Jimmy and I both wanted to take a Level 2 Avalanche course. His friend John Sykes was one of the instructors for a 4-day course led by the Alaska Avalanche School. It is a great course because you get to see two different snowpacks (maritime snow in Turnagain Pass, and a continental one in Hatcher Pass)
Here are some photos of the trip below.
In general, the trip went like this:
Day 1: Flew into Anchorage, arriving around 9am. John picked us up from the airport (which is located right in town), we ran a few errands, and headed to Hatcher Pass. It took 1.5 hrs to get there, after which we did most of the skiing shown in the photos below. The snowpack in Hatcher was faceted from nearly all the way to the ground, and other than a slight slabby crust on solar slopes, skied great. John and I took advantage of the stability and skied some great steep stuff. The most concerning aspect was the heavy sluff build up behind your skies (see the release along the right ski track in the last photo).
Day 2/3: The Avy 2 course begins and we spent two days staying at Independence Mine Visitor’s center. It was awesome to sleep in close quarters with everyone. This gave us a chance to bond with everyone else in the class.
Day 4/5: The last two days, we as a class headed over to Turnagain Pass. Here we did indoor classroom time in at the Ranger station near Alyeska Ski Resort, and went out on observation days a bit further to the SW. As the Turnagain Pass area sits squeezed between two bodies of water, it gets pounded by moisture, not unlike what we see in the Cascades.
Here is map showing the geographic relationship between these areas:
When I arrive back in Seattle, I was definitely rocked from a few days of Red Rocks, and then this trip, but it was all worth it. Taking the class in Alaska offered some great introductory exposure to terrain in Alaska, and I met some awesome people who I hope to follow up with.