April 2009 . . . tent time in the St. Elias range

In mid-April, I ventured into the St. Elias mountains with Eben Sargeant and Jorge Kozulj, transported to the Mt. Goode area by Paul Claus's turbine otter :-) We had 12 days on glacier, 8.5 of which ended up being spent in a tent - uggh! The good thing was having the chance to read Pillars of the Earth, finally, and have ample time to discuss it with Eben. The other good part was the chance to stare at Mt. St. Elias a few times, as well as the other huge peaks around us, and enjoy the grandeur of Alaska. But, I'm not gonna lie: that much time in a tent was not all that fun - I'm still a little traumatized!

High overcast was a good day to tour over toward the Bagley and scope out the neighborhood

Exploring closer to home on our sunny day was awesome too . . .

Skiing deep pow on Mt. Goode was pretty sweet . . . we had wanted to summit, but ended up choosing a ridge route that was not optimal for travel, so skied a sweet line instead . . .






This photo is the best representation of our trip:

After the first wave of storm days, it was time to venture out and see what had happened . . .


Given the high winds, it was a little difficult to assess avy conditions - most of the accumulated snow had blown away, but we didn't really trust the absence of windslabs, so took to some cornice cutting!


And then some skiing - definitely skied solid . . . in retrospect, we probably could have been more ambitious, but the reality of the remoteness and the unknown had us preferring a much more conservative approach . . .


After phase 1 of touring, we passed through camp and went to check out the terrain up-glacier - we found a bunch more eye candy and a lifetime of ski opportunities!!!

And opted to ski this lovely face . . .

And then tent-time came back . . . Kirsten Kremer taught me never to go on a camping trip without the means to draw and color - Jorge took advantage :-)

When we got another brief clearing, we took full advantage of the afternoon (which lasts until about 10pm in Alaska in May!)

The wall of clouds hung over St. Elias . . . and the Bagley is quite a large icefield :-) Paul told us the ice is 10,000 ft deep in that zone!
Eben and I got into some high country and got to scope a few more amazing lines . . .

. . . as well as enjoy a few more amazing views

Looking toward camp . . .

Looking toward the Wrangells


Oh yeah: we're on a skiing trip! Eben enjoying the turns we got :-)

and then enjoying the nice walk home



The day we left, like the day we arrived, was bluebird . . . but this one was an easy trip to leave from . . . staying positive and psyched with that much tent time was somewhat challenging, especially cuz I had lots going on in my personal life at home . . . I have to admit I was super glad to see Paul show up :-)

Another gorgeous flight out of the mountains . . .

We actually spent a few hours at Paul's lodge - a nice transition back to reality :-)

Overall, it was great to be in a new zone, and to ski some new stuff . . . I'd like to get back in that area at some point, but maybe with kites on a more travel-oriented trip . . . I'm pretty sure bad weather is the norm out there!!!

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