The Black Lake Chute took me ten years to ski. All that time it teased me from Anchorage. Above my home it looked like a thin white thread tied to the summit of O’Malley Peak. It hung down the north face and draped off of the lower wall. It became my White Whale. Sometimes, between attempts, I’d try to talk myself out of it. It’s too dangerous. There’s plenty of other stuff to ski. But I wanted it so bad….
The Black Lake Chute in February. Cody and I were climbing a ridge near the Chute during an alpine climbing course.
After numerous attempts, I finally got into the chute with the right conditions and the right partner: Roger Strong. The top 300 feet were 55 degrees above a big cliff. The consequences were too high for our liking to ski unroped. We did two raps to get into the chute.
Roger on the second rap into the chute. The run was 2,400 vertical feet. We hoped the style police wouldn’t bust us for a few short raps.
Forty-five degrees, four inches of duff on solid chalk. The stuff of dreams. But it wasn’t a free-for-all and yelling for joy. The chute ended at the top of a 300-foot wall known as the Black Lake Climbs.
We used the front points of our aluminum crampons to traverse above the Black Lake Climbs. Don’t think about the 300-foot cliff below and the traverse is easy. Focus and repeat: “You’re on the ground. Breathe. You’re on the ground. Breathe. You’re on the ground.”
Yeeeeaaaahhhhh!!!! The satisfaction of a ski alpinist: the alpinists relief of surviving the climb combined with the skiers thrill of speed and good snow. Thanks for an incredible day Roger!