May 3-14: Powell Glacier, Chugach Mountains


Well, I just got back from 10 days on the Powell Glacier, a haven of goodness in a world of goodness somewhere between the Matanuska and Nelchina glaciers. We camped at 7600 ft. and then moved a few days before pickup to 5800 ft . . . we were blessed with good weather, having one pretty cloudy day and one day of high winds. We also got some new light snow, and a few days of brilliant sunshine. :cool: The first part of the trip was with my friends Erica (from the WA Baker days) and Jared. Halfway through, we were met by Jorge and Maria from Bariloche, Argentina - that spiced things up and upped the laughter quotient, which was super fun!

I'll let the pictures do the talking - there are lots of them!

Hmmm, eye candy for next year, as seen from a recon flight the day before the trip
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Obligatory Bros shot from the plane . . .
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The face we came to know as "Big Guns" - just over 2000' of interesting things, both on the way up and down . . .
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Erica descending just to the looker's left of the main rock buttress in the picture above . . . she always smiles when she skis! This descent was pretty interesting cuz the vis had been in and out on the whole climb, and stayed that way for the descent. Since this was day 2 and we were getting used to our surroundings, we were still in confidence-development stages. Our pit showed good shear and compression results, but the fact that the lowest (read: deep) layer was pure facets definitely sat in the back of our minds.
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Next day: pure sunshine . . . headed up glacier to a run we called "Leap of Faith." We had good (new!) snow, and the line was super sweet, choking down at the bottom and ending in a super scenic area.
Looking down the run
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Erica incoming
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Headed back up . . .
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Windy days with clouds are a good excuse to be lazy and catch up on the past 4 years, but Erica and I managed to make it out for some sightseeing . . . the sights were nice, and so were the mellow-angle glacier turns!
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We headed back to our recon area for two nice lines we called "Double Trouble" . . . both were about 2500' and skied really nicely . . . spring snow! Half way up the first climb, we were greeted with sounds of a plane and psyched to know we had just gotten neighbors!

Erica scoping . . .
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And incoming . . .
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Erica and I with Mt. Thor looming in the background - we had briefly toyed with the idea of going over and climbing it, but chose skiing cool shit over slogging and moving camp a bunch . . . maybe next time
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Jared and Erica at the base of our second "Double Trouble" run
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Upon our return to camp, we greeted our neighbors and then were greeted with one of the most amazing sights . . . almost 3 miles of icefall sympathetically releasing . . . this picture doesn't begin to do it justice! We had a lot of icefall and it was at super random times . . . sometimes super early, sometimes super late, sometimes midday - certainly not something predictable or dependable, but such is life, eh?!?
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Next day we got up to recon an area we had spotted, but a huge cornice and icefall got in the way, so we went to meet Jorge and Maria on the line in the background - not a bad consolation prize . . .
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. . . especially when greeted with this at the bottom!
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With plenty of daylight, we decided to go sightseeing up to the top of the far looker's left ridge in the icefall picture . . . it was truly incredible. Perfect sunshine, amazing views, and an incredible feeling of expansiveness.

Unnamed glacier below as we booted up the last section
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View of turtle flats at 9000' elevation . . .
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Prince William Sound is just over the horizon behind me (and a "few" miles down glacier).
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Behind Erica and I is what we've determined to be the ultimate backcountry booter - that thing is huge . . . perfect ramp to perfect overhaning cornice, to perfect transition. Any takers?
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Beyond the amazing views, we were blessed with the best snow of the trip . . . it was especially good on the lower angle stuff, but skied quite nicely from the ridge. Jorge was beyond stoked, as a lover of powder that would rival any on this board!
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Super sweet evening light to descend back to camp for the wine and dance party (no music) that was about to ensue :D
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The next day, Jorge, Jared, Erica, and I headed back to Big Guns to ski a line on the far looker's right.
Interesting skinning with our camp somewhere out there on the glacier :)
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And some impressive icefall/avalanche to make the climb more interesting. The sound, proximity, and eventual breeze was pretty incredible . . . we were glad to see that our skin track had been safely outside the debris zone, but hurried through nonetheless on our return!
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Not bad views from the ridge . . . that would be a great base camp area, as that mountain is but one of many beauties!
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Now back to skiing - looking down my line - it skied a lot steeper than it looked like it would from the bottom. We all dropped in from different spots on the ridge, and then met up halfway down . . .
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Erica getting some more!
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Finally a picture of Jared skiing!
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Erica with the Powell Glacier below . . . we moved camp down to that area the next day.
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At the bottom, Jorge fell and lost a ski, which went over the bergshrund (thankfully, not in!). He had to downclimb and then jump! Aided considerably by soft snow and a good attitude, all ended well, despite a few tense moments!
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Back through the "let's not spend too much time here" zone . . .
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Skinning back home to be greeted by Maria, with tea! Our line is in the background on the far right side (narrow exit couloir)
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Next day: time to move . . .
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And go skiing again!
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We called this area "Stairway to Heaven" with sarcasm at first, as we had missed our window for soft snow conditions. But as it turned out, we were blessed with a bit of heaven :D
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Not a bad view from our new home
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The next morning, Jorge and I got up for "dawn patrol" to the powder stash he had discovered the afternoon before . . . it was great to actually be up and out early!
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And nice to be greeted with hash browns and coffee afterward!
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As well as some backcountry massage and yoga!
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We had spotted the pyramid line in the distance and decided to go get it on our last full day . . .
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And, since it was a ways down glacier and we had the silly kites, Erica and I decided to kite down!
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Jared was actually faster on foot and got the good snow, but I was able to get a run in from the shoulder before this impending cloud wall had me retreat so as not to be stuck in a whiteout!
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Our last morning was flat light, but we motivated for an early morning powder coolie and made it back to camp by 10:30 for our pickup . . . due to some confusion, the pilot went to our original camp, didn't see our new one, and left . . . thank goodness for the sat phone to clear things up and get us out for work, plane tickets, etc.
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The pilot was able to land, and we were outta there with heavy hearts to leave our home, but good spirits for a fabulous trip . . .
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Last minute antics . . . gotta love when the girls outnumber the boys!!
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Back in Sheep Mountain, all smiles, and the obligatory point to the promised land :D
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Overall, couldn't have asked for a better trip . . . for the strikingly little planning we did, we ended up in a great spot, had a great time together, and manged to safety ski some cool shit! Life is good