Harvest is the Season to Behold

As temperatures warm, the inevitable approach of summer becomes more and more apparent. Before summer's grasp consumes the snow and turns it to mank, one last hurrah, corn skiing becomes available. It's not powder skiing by a long shot, but I think corn can still be pretty rewarding due to its elusive and fickle nature. Skiing something too early means the turns will be crusty and skiing something too late can result in punchy, unstable snow that is equally unpleasant. Corn skiing takes timing, patience, and sometimes a bit of luck. 

Miles left on the 26 in the fashion he arrived: skiing Thursday at Alyeska, red eye to Tahoe, skiing Friday at Squaw. This left Will Lee and I to explore Turnagain Pass for the rest of April. Working a zone we dubbed 'The Corn Factory', it's no surprise the corn skiing here was some of the best we ended up with all trip.

Pastoral. In due time.

Alyeska Bound

It had been almost a month since arriving at Thompson Pass. Lee and I had spent more time hiking in this time than all the rest of winter. We were ready for some chairlifts. Friends insisted we eat at the Thai food truck in Glennallen, on our way to Alyeska.

"Why do we keep doing this?"
So delicious
You want spicy or no spicy?

The road past Anchorage onto the Turnagain arm treated us to an amazing sunset. In true Alaska fashion, we stopped at a roadside pull off next to the water around 9 PM and watched the sun slowly descend sideways below the horizon until almost 10:30.

Roadside peaks
Sunset waterfall

The next morning we awoke to sunny skies and one of the greatest spring skiing resorts in existence. Terrain at Alyeska doesn't get sun until the afternoon, their spring skiing hours reflect this: the resort is open 11-6. Perfect for going out all night, sleeping in, and still getting a full day of good corn and slush skiing. Dropping in above the Turnagain Arm was really cool too. It was a successful migration from Thompson Pass.

Strapping in with a view
Turns above the water
Chairs, airs, and sun

A Full RV

Shortly after Miles, the fourth and final nobleman, Sir William joined our quest. Will tolerated a slow start to winter in Jackson Hole, and wasn't ready to call it a winter. To any doubters out there, splitboarders can achieve enlightenment equal to, and possibly greater than skiers.

The rv was getting cramped but the sun stayed out and temperatures were starting to get warm, allowing us to work days to their full extent. After such a strong start, Miles briefly lost the faith and disappointed us all by going heli skiing for a few days (what was he thinking?!). The horde that was Tailgate had dispersed, making it possible for Lee Will and I to achieve full consciousness during hikes.

I'm going up there?

Miles regained the faith when his heli time ran out, and all four of us were united on the skin track once again.

Lunch time

April 12: Miles Arrives, Shredding Ensues

Mr. Clark joined our noble quest for a couple weeks in mid April. Some blame good timing and luck, others say he's that awesome. Miles did well for 48 hours of skiing and traveling, and nearly achieved skin track enlightenment on day one. He skied Squaw Wednesday, got on a plane that evening, landed in Valdez at 8 AM, and was hiking two hours later. Even before the brief northern lights show after dinner, it was a good start to the trip.

Leland leading the lot
Miles masterfully maneuvers
Beautifully backlit backflips
Skillfully setting a scenic sidestep
Airplane turns: Causing colossal contrails
The fabled face shot in far north

Gone Skiing

Even when you have to hike up for all the turns down, it's still lots of fun. I've stated before how much I hate hiking. I've also mentioned its advantages.

Long way down...
means lots of turns...
more on the runout

The cold weather in early April was great for being back in America. The snow stayed soft on all aspects, spicy comfort food was prepared every night, skin tracks two and three wide up glaciers were common. Being back in the nation of bacon beer and cheese was a relief after Japan.

Three wide
Fun glacier runs
Lee drops in
Tracks on the Worthington
Lee Lyon: Beauty in motion.
Lunch with a view

The good days relentlessly piled up until Miles arrived on April 12 (they didn't stop then).

Valdez Scenics

I've finally gotten my computer fixed! A lot has happened in the last two months.

Alaska is a mecca for backcountry skiing in the spring. Thompson Pass is one of the many shrines where people affirm their faith. Our holy pilgrimage from Anchorage ended here. We explored the top of the pass near Tailgate Alaska (Hajj), and quickly learned snowmobiles (popemobiles) are frustratingly efficient at making hiking seem sacrilegious. After a few days of getting a system dialed in our rv (sedia gestatoria), we moved up the street where things were more quiet, and settled into a rhythm of hiking a lot. Helios sympathized with the pious nature of our quest, and stayed out to watch us climb many a ridge and couloir.

Diamond Peak

The Diamond Arena

Top of the Worthington Glacier

Scoping the Iguana Backs

Tone's Temple (seriously) and Sapphire Peak

View from Crudbusters

Valdez Harbor