Picking up from episode II, our Week 2 crew was most certainly impacted by the 11 foot storm that hammered camp. In the above shot you can see our camp before the storm. Our Arctic Oven Tents are ground level, and you can even see our mascot, the tree. There’s no trees where our camp is situated, but since it was used to stabilize a haul line of gear brought out by the heli to help build camp we figured we’d “plant it” at camp for some colorful decor.
Here’s a view of camp after the 11 foot storm with another couple of feet on top. We’re shoveled here, but can you see the tree? Yup, buried. It was at least 9 feet tall. The effort to keep camp dug-out during such massive precipitation events is large, but then again so is the reward. By the time our Week 2 crew made it to camp we were all fired up to see how the snow would ski. When our crew arrived they brought a big ole’ blue hole with them and a improving weather trend. We decided to work with it as best as possible, geared up, and skinned out to assess snow stability.
In the above shot the crew is heading out from camp hoping to tap into the 13+ feet that had fallen in the zone since March 22nd. Thankfully, the snow was mostly stable and we were able to slowly ramp up our lines as confidence increased throughout the day. I can’t stress enough how good the snow was that we shared with our Week 2 crew. Although the dream Chugach snow is really the thick velvet that sticks to literally anything, this stuff was a dream for powder addicts. Feel like going as fast as you possibly can, making as little turns as possible? No worries. Feel like entering a white room so deep you might get lost trying to make your next turn? Easy. Just sink a little deeper in your next turn. The experience was surreal.
Our Week 2 crew was an amazing group spanning Lake Tahoe, Virginia, Sweden and Australia. Here the crew picks their way down a ridge leading towards Home Base. Our camp is located in the bottom right corner of the photo. In this shot you can see that we have more than a few options for skiing back to camp, which of course is always nice after a solid day out in the field.
Week 2 went fast. It will undoubtedly be remembered for the all-time perfect powder. However, the buzz around PNH Base was the first real sign of a multi-day bluebird window anyone had seen since all the new snow fell. Jeff, Wes and I did our best to quickly changeover from our Week 2 crew, bid them safe travels, and saddled up to head back into the zone. Our Week 3 crew was a group of Canadians that absolutely scored to coveted Alaskan lottery. If you ask any of them what Alaska is like they’ll tell you it’s bluebird, bottomless and stable all the time. Ha! It’s beyond amazing when weeks line up like this. It’s what you hope for when you finally pull the trigger and make solid plans to come skiing and riding in Alaska. As you can see in the above photo of Andre, when windows like this appear in AK, the time to get after it is now.
Stay tuned for episode 4 dropping soon…