Saturday, April 7, 2012

North Face of Eagle

A few weeks ago I got the opportunity to ski the North Face of Eagle Peak in the Eagle River Valley.

I continue to be blown away in what you can do just outside of Anchorage. That being said, another group caught up to us and passed us that day (we did 95% of the trail breaking and route finding). But the fun thing was that it was friends of ours, Luc Mehl and crew. If anyone was going to catch us, I'm glad it was Luc.

We struck out early in the morning and blasted out the three miles of snow machine and hiking trail and got to were we needed to break off from the river and start busting through the willows to head up to Eagle. Thankfully with the record snow fall we've had in South Central Alaska this winter and the hints of other people's ski tracks we were able to make descent time through the willows and up into the hanging valley. We were able to skin most of the way up the couloir that comprises the lower 2,000 feet of Eagle. Climbing from the couloir to the upper snow field was a bit exposed and thankfully the sluff fell off either side. After climbing the lower part of the snow ridge of the snow field we were able to put our skis back on and skin to the top. The snow could not have been better, right side up and nice and fluffy on top. The only thing that beat the snow was the view; we could see everything from Denali and the Alaska Range, Augustine and the Aleutians, and the rest of the major peaks in the Chugach and Kenai mountains.

The trip took us 13(ish) hours to ski in and out and manage a group of 4 down the North Face. We weren't moving at a blistering pace, just a comfortable all day pace. The trip was my first ski mountaineering trip. Perhaps a bit much to bite off for my first ski mountaineering trip, but definitely a big boost in confidence. I'm looking forward to more!

My camera died, but Bryan and Adrian's kept kicking.

Mom, look what we did! Photo by Adrian Bender.

Ian climbing to the top of the couloir and the transition to the upper snow field. Photo by Adrian Bender.

Me climbing the snow ridge at the lower end of the upper snow field. Photo by Bryan Friedrichs.

Getting ready to ski what we just climbed. Photo by Adrian Bender.

Bryan getting ready to drop in with Yukla, our spring climb last year, in the background. Photo by Adrian Bender.

Me side slipping down the upper part of the couloir with Eagle Lake and Anchorage in the background. Photo by Adrian Bender.

Our tracks into the couloir from the upper snow field. Photo by Adrian Bender.

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