When the avalanche danger was to high on the slopes we changed our plans and took to the valleys and flat land on skinny skis. Originally, we had planned to do the Eklutna traverse and ski as many peaks as possible along the way weather permitting. That trip would have been about three nights. With the avi reports recommending that we don’t do any serious down hilling we figured we could do a quick lightweight overnight trip on our Nordic skis. After discussing several different options and looking at the forecasts we decided to hit up a route that Scott had backpacked/pack rafted a few summers ago.
Our route sent us into the mountains off of the Glen Highway about an hour from Anchorage. We used some common snow machine trails to access the mountains. The further we got from the highway the less snow machine tracks we saw! While we hoped and planned to ski on good crust once we got off the snow machine trails the crust wasn’t great yet. Thankfully, we were able to combine the marginal crust with old snow machine tracks to give us just enough of a base to travel our 50 mile route with decent ease- most of the time…
When we didn’t travel with ease:
Attempting to ski down a gully that turned into what would have been a chain of waterfalls in the summer. Down climbing frozen waterfalls without any climbing gear and Nordic boots was a fun twist.
Post-holing with and without skis on our feet.
Skiing up steep climbs on narrow snow machine trails- had to double pole or hike. We initially attempted to be purest using the double pole technique, but soon the hiking became a judge free option.
Minor hardships of the trip:
My pad had a huge leak. I woke up with no air meaning no insulation against the snow. That being said I had a cold butt and back until I blew my pad up for the remaining hours until morning.
Best parts of the trip:
Awesome views, jumped hundreds of ptarmigan from their hiding places in the snow, slept from 8pm to 7:30am, and eating an entire party pack of cola gummy bears about 8 hours into the second day of skiing.