Friday, April 24, 2009

April 23

I'm back in NJ looking out at the Hudson River rolling to the ocean. Spring is here. The skyline of Manhattan is awesome like the AK peaks (sort of-not). Ian bagged the Duchess at Tucks while I was away. Nina is so happy I'm back and I listened to all of her stories yesterday. She had a lot to tell me and didn't stop talking all day. I got to tell her a few ski stories of my own. But she definitely had the stage. We cooked a huge waffle breakfast, walked to the library to get some dvd's and then we made dinner together and watched original Pink Panther movies. I want to thank everyone I skied with and those folks who helped me realize this journey. My hosts and good friends, The Tates in SLC. Dave McCandless in JH, and of course Brad "Bentley" Gamble for putting it all together in AK and being such a generous friend to all involved. Blog supporters, Ed Biddle and Ian Martin. Both you guys encouraged me to go for it. Thanks to all my JH friends who rallied at Dave's to party and catch up. I love you guys- Jamie, June, Lexy (in absentia/glad I saw you at the resort), Crawdad, Deerslayer, Doyle.  It was great skiing with and hanging with Renny Burke, Vern, Ernie and Rich Lee at Stieglers and on The Cirque. Thanks to my OLD crusty friend Jeff Zell," heh heh heh!" And yes I have your f'n  hat. You left it at the THC.  Come to NYC and you can have it back. To my new friends Kirsten Kremer and Jessica Baker. You women rock! I hope Nina can ski with you some day. Gotta make that happen.  Dave "Copy" Miller. Dave the Wave, Benny, Lisa, Jeff Ledger- it was tenawesome! Todd and Pete- my newest bestest friends. Can't wait to visit you guys in Hood River. Gotta thank my folks and Doug and Heide too for support and Nina care while I was away. Thanks to those who followed the blog. dc rip.
Until the next big  experience . . . there's always morSe sKIING.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

April 21

Got up kind of late for a ski at Snowbird. Alta is closed for the season. We decide to hike the Twins off of the tram. I haven't been to Snowbird in years. Pipeline was calling to me after being in Valdez. So we booted it up the ridge. The shot was perfect. Sunny and spring like in the sun and firmer on the shadow side- a minor course in slough management but it was fine and fun. I was waiting at the LZ at the bottom, skis and pack all ready but no heli appeared. I thought I heard it coming. Damn! We had another run and then a beer on the plaza. A third tram was in order and then we headed out. Ahi tuna for dinner cooked by Leslie. Tomorrow I fly back East. I miss Nina. Wow.

April 20

SLC-Airport wake up call. And got out of there easily. Went to the Taqeria with Leslie, Charlie and Margerite. The best fish tacos! Hiked up the creek behind the house for a nice 4-20 walk with Leslie.  Saw the latest Voile. Mike's newest design is what I want. They'd be perfect in AK. They are looking sweet with some rocker and some camber underfoot. Can't wait to get on them. Brian came over and I gave him greetings from Jed Workman. Showed everyone some video and photos of the trip. Yeah baby!

April 19

Woke up late. Safety first. Toured the town. Updated the blog. Flew to Anchorage. Hung out some more. Finally had to say good bye to the brothers. Woke up in Seattle. What just happened up there?  "Magic happens when your with Brad in Alaska." Another great Dave the Wave quote.

April 18

We skied a great last day with Jessica. Tom Bennett joined us as a tail guide. Dave had new clients coming in. We explored out into Clueland and did a lot of martini skiing. Beautiful views of the Copper River.After Friday it was a wind down day for sure. Jessica drove us into Valdez where we stayed the night a the Best Western once again. We ran into Zell, Scott Raynor, Reese and Jen on the way to the Fu Kung and had a great meal together. Lots of trash talking going on for sure. A fun night.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

April 17

Friday. A really tough day in the Chugach. Since we drank it Blue the night before, I decided to wear my lucky vintage 1979 Harlem Globetrotters Hat. Now I now have a new nickname, "Meadowlark" given to me by Todd and the Alaska Rendez-Vous guides. Yes, the hat is dope! By about noon the sun was really baking the snow. The newer snow didn't bond well to a hoar frost layer about 20cm down. We were concerned about slides. On Ice Cube, Jessica went out and ski cut it. Todd skied down unaffected. Brad went next and released a class 2 slide that Todd and Jessica had to brace for. It slowed right in front of them and the slough went flying over their heads and over the cliffs to their backs. Brad stayed above the release point and was safe. Jessica sent Todd down to safe zone and stayed in the danger zone to keep guiding. I followed skier's tracks as instructed. I heard on Miller's radio what happened and he stayed super calm. It was reassuring but I knew what was up. I skied out cautiously looking for safe zones. I made one turn on the face and saw a crack spread skier's right. I stayed left and then on my next turn, it all ripped out. Another class 2. I stayed high and augered my fists into the snow. The slide tore through the rocks below me moving skier's left of Jessica. Cool, I didn't bury her. I skied the slide bed down to safety. Next came Miller and he also ripped out a big slab and this one was the biggest of the day. Check out the photo of Miller's slide barreling towards Jessica. After we all were down we breathed a sigh of relief. Our collective calm helped us out. We all knew what was going on and the severity of the situation. The Miller and the Baker together are super solid. Brad put together another superstar team like last week and today it showed. We were lucky. We had a great day and some really great runs and ramps. Reindeer Sausage and Billy North to close out the set was perfect. But it was unstable out there. Our prayers are with Eric Henderson, the French guy's family and the snowmobilers familes too. 


Another down day and it was a beautiful morning to fly. Mechanical problems and delays and the weather changed. Todd and I roped Jessica into touring with us. But little did we know that she had a secret mission instore for us. We toured up the Tsaina river and then she showed us The Key To Lisa. It's awesome!!! A tight fissure with spring snow and snow rotted holes to the river below. We skinned and then boot hiked up. It is so deep and narrow. We crested the ridge at the alder brush and had a great view of the valley-abouta 1000ft of vertical was waiting. it was a wild non stop down this technical gash of a run. Such a thrill! The best gully skiing I've done since I was a kid in the gullies behind my house in New Hampshire. Everything is just bigger in AK.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

April 15

A full down day. Todd and I went for a tour in the afternoon up Stuart Creek. Everything is always moving here in the Chugach. The canyon walls had little rock slides going. The isothermic snow cracked and made wild swishing sounds. The dog that followed us turned around after the 5 day old bear tracks went into a cave. I built a snow bench and we sat and enjoyed a beer. Then it was the ski out that was a fun downhill down the creak zig zagging over the river on snow bridges. Jessica invited us to the beach party on the other side of campus. A big bonfire and then in for dinner with Kreamer joining us.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

April 14 - Lucky Seven

We had seven perfect runs.While the other heli outfits were shut down due to weather, we followed the blue hole around AR territory. We had some fun on Enjoyabowl and then  we ate our vegetables in the broccoli and cauliflower chutes. A little yellow fever shot was just right to cure me. King Tut skied well and phat. And we ended the day bringing down some glacial ice for glacial cocktails and a glacial coke. Kreamer joined us and hung out. Another good day of skiing and a fun night.

April 13

We started out on Teikel in the shade, one of five groups on the public ship. The waits were cold and long. The skiing was good but tracked from the bozos in front of us. As soon as we crossed the road with the heli, things improved. Dave Miller-JHAF-tail guided with Jessica out front. He was so great to have on board. Brad knew what he was doing combining the Miller with the Baker. We skied some fun stuff but called it early.  A little spine action too. Wavey and Lisa stopped by on their way back home. We gave them a good send off. Wavey was celebrating his celebrity status after a little guiding with ABA- and off they drove into the sunset in their Chrysler HHR-giddyup.