Sunday, January 30, 2011

Sunshine, helicopters, and skiing

After a couple weeks of clouds, rain and snow, we finally had a clear, cold, sunny weekend.  On Saturday Hillary and I went heli skiing with Sam Roche through the local heli ski guides, Alaska Powder Descents (Kevin Krein).  While the snow was not blower powder we still had a great day up on the icefield skiing some of the local peaks (McGinnis, Wrather, behind Stroller White).  The views were incredible!

See enlarged video at youtube. (Up to 1080p HD)

The run we just skied is in the background, far right.  Waiting for a pickup.

Looking out across the Mendenhall Glacier with Wrather Peak (right) and the Towers (Left) in the background

Sunday ...
We hiked up to Spaulding Meadows to do some backcountry skate skiing.  The best thing about a good rain on the snow then a deep freeze, followed by thick frost hoar is that the skate skiing turns incredible up there.  It is about an hour walk up a snowmobile trail to the meadows, and they extend for miles with views of the glacier, mtns and the ocean.  It was a perfect sunny, windless day to spend up there.  The snow surface was perfect for skate skiing anywhere you wanted.

A picture from backcountry skiing last weekend.  The snow wasn't bad, but there were some underlying instabilities that caused us to take it easy and ski some mellow lines.

Inside a snow shelter I dug out for a lunch break while skiing Fish Creek Knob up by Eaglecrest
Stripping down up in Spaulding Meadows Sunday midday

Stout and the pack

Views from the meadow

Throwing in some tele turns in the skate skis

Extreme nordic skiing

Sunday, January 16, 2011


The last week or so has been very windy and cold in Juneau.  Highs from 5-15 and wind gusts up to 70 mph downtown.  We downhill skied a couple runs on Sat but with temps at the top of the lift around -8F and a stiff breeze we didn't last too long.  We did get in some skate skiing on the Upper Loop of Eaglecrest. 

On Sunday we decided to go for a ski out the road, up Herbert River.  There wasn't a ton of snow but the ice was pretty solid in most places in the river bed.  It wasn't a fast ski, but was pretty nice with the snow continually falling all day.  We made to the open area just before Herbert Glacier when we decided to turn around and give Stout a break.  Much of the snow had a breakable crust on top, making it a hard day on the dog.  The rest of the ski was on hard river ice with an inch or so of soft new snow.

Ont he way out.  You just had to dodge the river channels.  No one got wet.  Not even Stout!

Biting snow flakes.

Near the turnaround

The trickiest part of the ski tour.  Hillary crosses the logs with style.

It started snowing harder on the way back, making the ice a nice ski.

Stout hasn't moved much since getting home

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

More pictures from nordic skiing in Whitehorse

Biting Stout

Good Stout

On the Buckwheat trails, taking a break to bite the trees

Just over White Pass, over the border, at Log Cabin (Buckwheat Trails).  Some track is set for skiing and there are also snowmobilers and bc skiers around the area

Shakin' it out

Skiing on the railroad track with the snowmobiles

Onto the ski only trails

On our way from Log Cabin to Whitehorse.  There are big mountains and big lakes in the area.

Almost sunrise outside the hotel on Sat morning. (~9:45 am).  Whitehorse is on Pacific time.

On the Dog Trail, part of the Whitehorse XC Club trail system.  Stout is excited now, but will start to feel it after the 30k he will do today.

Dog Trail parking lot after 10a.

Stout drafts behind Hillary's huge double pole push

Time out on the valley loop climb

Picture doesn't do this shot justice.  At the bottom of the valley the sun glistened off of the snow/frost/hoar on the small trees in the area.

Sunday morning starting our classic climb up Mt. McIntyre

Monday, January 10, 2011

Camping, Traveling Stout

Whitehorse, Yukon Territory, Canada
Hillary, Stout and I decided to spend New Years weekend over in Whitehorse to do some nordic skiing and explore the big city.  Well, Whitehorse is actually about the same size population wise as Juneau (~30,000), but it has the Alaska Hwy running through it, so maybe it seems a little bigger?  We took the Fairweather ferry up to Skagway then braved White Pass, over the coastal mountains into BC, then into the Yukon.  It was a couple hour ferry ride on the fast ferry and then a 110 mile drive across the border.  The pass lived up to its name.  I was glad to be in the car because if I was standing outside I probably would have fallen over from vertigo.  White sky, with white falling snow, with white roads, in a white cloud, with white mountains, and no trees.  The kinda deal where you keep turning your windshield wipers on because you are convinced that the window is all fogged up, but it does nothing! 
Whitehorse is on the other side of the coastal mtns so it is typically very dry and cold in the winter.  The week preceding our trip the highs were in the negatives Fahrenheit, but a storm came through, dropped a little snow, and the highs were comfortable in the mid - upper 20s.  After crossing the border we stopped by at Log Cabin (a national historic site off the Chilkoot Trail where they set tracks for nordic skiing, and is the site of the Buckwheat ski classic).  Since it was nice on this side of the pass we used the waxless skis and got in about 10k before continuing down to Whitehorse.  In the parking lot a dude grilling asked us if we wanted any moose brats.  We accepted stuck out the cold for a few extra mins for the delicious bite. 
We spent 2 nights down in town at a hotel and skied a ton.  Right next to town they have over 80k of groomed trails, and Stout is allowed on about half of them.  We mainly classic skied, but also explored the World Cup trails for a bit one night while skating.  On Sat we soaked in the local hot spring for an hour or so while watching the sun skip across the mtn tops.  We finished our last day with a ski up Mt. McIntyre on a narrow winding track. 
There are some pictures on Hillary's camera from Whitehorse that I will add to a new blog when she gets back into town.
Off the Fairweather stern (ripping about 25 knots)

Sights along Lynn canal

Eldridge Rock Lighthouse

Hillary equally enjoying the views from the ferry.  Stout had to stay down in the car for the trip and we weren't allow to visit him.  He seemed frustrated that we were waking him up when we made it to Skagway.

Stout exploring the hotel room

Then finding his spot

At one of the parks down in Skagway before catching the ferry out.  Again, Hillary has most of the actual Whitehorse pictures.

Stout finds the big stick

And tries to play with it like it is a little stick

He's crazed!
 This last weekend Hillary flew to Rochester to visit with her grandmother.  It sounds like they have been doing all kinds of things that you miss out on in Juneau (i.e. pedicures, eating out, shopping, etc.).  Stout and I decided to go for a hike/ski/camp up on Blackerby Ridge a couple miles out of downtown since the skies were sunny (and are forecasted to remain at least thru next weekend).

After a hike up to the snow I started skinning through the forest

Stopping for a break after a steep 2500 ft gain in less than 2 miles.  Stout carried his food and water for the weekend, while I carried everything else for a winter camping overnight, which isn't always the most fun to have on your back for the ski down.

At just below 3000 ft the wind started ripping really hard, so with all the blowing snow turning us into ice cubes we decided to set up the tent in a lee area rather than suffering all night up higher towards the icefield.  While I was putting up the tent I turned around and Stout was digging a hole for himself to settle into to stay warm.

He ended up liking the tent a lot more and licked my face for about 20 mins in his excitement

Then he realized how tired he was from his pack and postholing through the snow

Sunset with blowing snow

After our trip I made a bunch of homemade tortellini for dinner to have with some blacktail deer smoked bratwurst.  

The dinner portion.  I froze about 4-5 times as many.  I also made a ton of spinach pasta ravioli on Friday night that will supply a couple meals in the future.  These are a little more work than ravioli, but are kinda fun.  Let me know if anyone wants directions/recipe.