Sunday, January 29, 2012

01/28/12 "We should've gone to Alyeska." Shlarping the Gnar on Pyramid Peak (3378')

Turnagain Pass keeps on giving this winter. While Anchorage is in the deep freeze, a temperature inversion and sunshine made for some nice riding conditions in Turnagain Pass. I'm always looking to check out new places to ski, and the objective today was Pyramid Peak (on the motorized side). 6.4 miles and +3550' in 6 hours.

As we drove towards the pass Turnagain arm had a fog layer about 1500 feet up making us question our destination. We checked the Alyeska webcam and sure enough it was beautiful and sunny at the top of Chair 6. We saw some sun breaking through so it was still a go. We parked at the first powerline crossing on the Seward highway and ran into an Alaska Avalanche School instructor from our class 2 weeks ago. She was teaching the weekend warrior level one course.

We started following a skin track up the powerline and through the woods, but after a short time we were at the base of skiable terrain. We followed a buried skin track and eventually others breaking trail while we made our way up. Before long we arrived at the thin cloud layer; able to see above and below. We encountered more wind affected snow as we climbed. The only slope I questioned all day snow machines mobbed through; that's a pretty good stability test.

Before long we were on Seattle Ridge crest, making our way on wind-affected snow towards Pyramid's broad summit. The views were incredible, the sun felt great, and the riding was fresh snow. At one point I made the sarcastic comment "We should've gone to Alyeska" Ha! We rode down from the summit to a col and skinned up a short ways before the 2800 foot descent.

We ended up staying near the skin track on the ride down much of the way, not knowing the area yet, but there were many good lines up there. The snow on the last pitch was incredible! Another short ski through the forest and back at the lot. Best day in the backcountry so far this winter.

 The snow behind Andy rode incredible!

 Blanket over Turnagain Arm.

 Above and below the blanket.

 upper slopes

 Snowmachiners enjoying the terrain features.

 On the way to Pyramid's summit.

 Small cornice release from wind-loading.

 Seattle Ridge (center)

 Pyramid's and my shadow.




 Shark's Fin, Eddy's, and Tincan Ridge.

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