(Last Updated On: May 21, 2013)
Mike Records sent in this guest TR from his time in Alaska this spring. This is an amazing journey, filled with bucket list items like seeing the northern lights and driving the AlCan, and we’re proud to share it with our readers. Thanks for sending it in, Mike, and remember, we’re always open to submissions, gear review requests, and more here at 14erskiers.com. You can visit Mike’s website here: mikerecords.com
…Continued from Part 1
There are eagles everywhere in Cordova – including on the skin track – they are a testament to the strength and biodiversity of the area.
From the start, Rachel and the wonderful people of Cordova were happy to show me around. The access here is incredible. You start skinning 3 minutes from the house.
You hit treeline at 400 meters.
And quick bootpacks bring you to the top of big faces.
Rachel slaying one of said faces:
Of course, the other side of Cordova is the weather. It will dump 50 cm of snow in 12 hours then pour rain for the next week. But, as long as it finishes as snow it doesn’t matter.
Because when it’s not raining Cordova actually does have great storm riding.
Another incredible part of Cordova is the “ski area”. For $5 you get a ride on Mount Eyak’s one-man chairlift to some of the best sidecountry in the country:
A 45 minute hike brings you to this:
In April I met up with the Crested Butte contingent in Anchorage. I personally think that Anchorage is one of the best ski towns in the country – you have three totally different areas: Hatcher Pass, the Front Range, and Turnagain Pass – PLUS there are jobs there. If it’s cloudy at Turnagain, it’s probably bluebird at Hatcher. If Turnagain is sunny it’s probably stable. If you have 3 hours after work, you can be skinning up the Front Range 20 minutes after you leave your desk.
We started out with a day at Hatcher Pass:
Hatcher Pass isn’t like a lot of skiing in Alaska: it’s rocky and colder; powder lasts longer, but so do persistent instabilities.
After Hatcher we headed to Turnagain Pass. Turnagain is filled with classic lines and far less wind than Cordova and Valdez. Valdez is plagued with fierce outflow winds because of its proximity to the interior; Cordova often has bad “gap winds” because it gets sandwiched between high and low pressure systems.
We started our first day on Turnagain with some classic Alaska adventure:
Followed some wolverine tracks:
And finished it off with a big face of spines and flutes on TT43:
Rachel joined us for a long weekend.
We skied more Turnagain…
Turnagain gets hit harder than any backcountry zone in Colorado. On weekends it looks like a ski area, so we headed over the pass to the Twin Peaks zone.
Where we had big walls of powder to ourselves:
We headed down to Whittier to check out some of the lines we’d seen from the ferry. The skiing outside of Whittier is as spectacular as it gets. Unfortunately, Whittier gets crushed by gaps winds.
But, it sure is beautiful there!
It also has amazing terrain and easy access.
After Anchorage I brought the Crested Butte boys to Cordova. It started out by dumping 40 cm of snow in 24 hours.
Then, like the truly magical maritime climate that it is, it stabilized!
Danny Spencer racing his slough down a local face:
With long Alaskan daylight in full effect, we snowmobiled 30 km out to the Scott Glacier. The Scott is filled with a lifetime of lines:
A bit more window shopping on the Scott:
High on the Scott Glacier, poaching the Points North Heliskiing terrain:
A week later, on April 25th, with rain in the local mountains we tried to head back up to the Scott Glacier. The parking lot wasn’t promising:
A lot had changed in a week; it took us three hours of bushwhacking and river crossings to make it up to the ski zones. Even at 1,500 meters there was a rain crust.
Since then the temperature has not dropped below freezing around Cordova. Huge glide avalanches and wet slides are coming down everywhere – skiing is done here until a well-drained isothermal snowpack develops.
Cordova has the best of the best and the worst of the worst; when its bluebird, the maritime snowpack, access, and terrain are world class. But, it’s easy to forget about that when it rains for a week straight. Then again, down days in Cordova are pretty special in their own way:
loves snow more than anything... except his wife. He ensures his food is digested properly by chewing it 32 times before swallowing.He is a full-time real estate agent serving Crested Butte and Gunnison
and would be honored to send you his monthly newsletter.
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