If a picture is worth a thousands words, then you’re in for a real treat. Check out the following album, with shots taken by the amazing Ken Lucas during his travels in Alaska, which, in his words: “included backcountry skiing and some snow-kiting. We hit both the Chugach Mountains and the Kenai Mountains, including a great ski-plane segment.”
I’ve had two personal ski days this winter. With no snow in the early season, I ice climbed and taught avalanche classes. In the midwinter, I taught back to back avalanche courses and guided skiing. A lot of fun days on skis, but all of them on the clock. When skiing off the clock, I can kick back, let my friends make the difficult decisions and ski steeper, higher consequence terrain.
On my two personal days this winter, I skied the pointiest peak in the Hatcher Pass area and the pointiest peak near Turnagain Pass. Both near Anchorage, Alaska.
Dana Drummond booting 50-degree powder near the summit of The Pinnacle at Hatcher Pass.
Dana on the summit of The Pinnacle after leading the exposed summit pitch.
Dana on the summit of the Pinnacle. The Western Chugach are in the far distance.
Dana breaking trail below seracs on Carpathian Peak in the Kenai Mountains.
Andy Newton and Tobey Carman heading to a break in the sunshine below our ski route on Carpathian.
Last winter it snowed in Southcentral Alaska from October through April. This winter it hasn’t snowed since mid-September. But that’s great! The ice is fat and juicy and the temps warm. Ice climbing season is here!
On the last belayed pitch. We topped out at 5:30 p.m. in total darkness. Over two hours we thrashed down 2,000 feet of thick alder back to the road. Oh, we long for the sun and easy approaches of Colorado!
Joe Stock is a mountain guide and photographer based in Anchorage, Alaska.
Dreams of Brown Moose is a classic early-season ice climb in the Portage Valley near Anchorage. This 500-foot, Water Ice IV route has the ingredients of a proper Alaska adventure with a bushwacking approach, dodgy thin ice, overflowing water and deathly avalanche terrain. I went with Sam Johnson, a life-long Alaska climber, artist and Ph.D candidate to give it a shot.
Andrew McLean packed the Bear Tooth Theater for the annual Friends of the Chugach Avalanche Center fundraiser. This is the biggest event for the Friends, who provide weather stations, salary and gear for Southcentral Alaska avalanche forecasts. To over 400 fired up Alaskan skiers, Andrew told stories from ski adventures in the Wrangell St. Elias Mountains in Alaska. These are the most vast mountains in the U.S., and Andrew’s current ski obsession. Between slide shows-he gave another show for the Hatcher Pass Avalanche Center–we played in the hills above Anchorage.
At a Chugach trailhead with the fat tire bikes loaded onto the Rice Rocket. Or is the Honda Rice Rocket loaded onto the fat tire bikes? Andrew had never ridden a fat bike, so I gave him the Alaska experience.
Some hazards on the ride into the Chugach. We counted 16 moose along 4 miles of trail.
We biked around Gray Lake below Ptarmigan Peak.
Along the way we noticed this iceflow up in the rocks on Ptarmigan Peak.
We came back the next day and climbed this beautiful route. It was 300 feet of rolling water ice 4.
Following Andrew’s lead up the steepest section. Thanks for coming up Andrew and supporting the Friends. And thanks for the mountain time!
Sometimes you just need to take a road trip… Snowboarder Sean Busby and his friends converted and gutted a 1977 Dodge Travel Queen motor home into a fully functional alternatively-fueled vehicle that utilizes vegetable fuel and solar power and hit the road. Driving 6,000+ miles from Utah to Alaska, the crew explored new territory—backcountry skiing, snowboarding, climbing and documenting the entire journey. The following trailer is a grip of the stories from their trip. Enjoy!
Sean Busby is a professional snowboarder, living with type 1 diabetes. Learn more about Sean and his work educating kids about diabetes and winter sports on his website.
SKIING GRAND TETON
On Saturday, June 16, three of our Backcountry.com team members—Andrew McLean, Chris Davenport, and myself—climbed up the Stettner/Chevy/Ford route of the Grand Teton and skied the East face for a film project with Brainfarm Cinema and The One Eyed Bird.
We each had skied the Grand before, so for this particular adventure the route was familiar ground and we could focus on the film project objectives. The weather was perfect and the conditions were excellent. With a helicopter circling above, we headed up the ice-filled couloir link-up with camera equipment and ropes dangling around us. With the additions of Camp4Collective film pros, Renan Ozturk and Jimmy Chin, and JHMG support from Brian Warren and Chris Figenshau, our team of seven moved up the climb smoothly and carefully.
Reaching the summit before midday, our crew had some time to enjoy the spectacular views and relax in the comradery that comes with sharing time in the mountains. Then, one by one, Andrew, Chris and I each dropped in from the summit block for some June corn snow down the steep, convex ramp of the 13,776ft peak. That afternoon, with the entire team safely down in the Lupine Meadows parking lot, we toasted Coronas, radiating content from a good day in the Tetons. Read more…
We see a lot of great photos throughout the week. So, we thought it was high-time we started rounding up some of our faves each week and highlighting one on Friday to inspire weekend adventures. We call it the Osprey Round Up.
For those of you who still have it, enjoy that spring snow. Happy Friday!
Last week, wildlife photographer Florian Schulz transported us to the Arctic through his collection of beautiful images. We didn’t even have to leave our seats at The Conservation Alliance breakfast at Outdoor Retailer Winter Market to catch the chill of polar wind, hear the cries of migrating birds and feel our hearts thump as we watched baby polar bears fleeing from danger.
via Chris Kassar and Elevation Outdoors:
Schulz is, John Sterling of the Conservation Alliance told us, “a truly gifted story teller who transports us to places we may never otherwise get to visit.”…
He didn’t just “wow” us with images or stories of braving harsh conditions (though he did tell some amazing ones about that). His message was simple, clear, and inspiring: “My connection to the environment is something very emotional; it comes from the heart for me especially now that I have become a dad,” said Schulz getting noticeably choked up when talking about the arrival of his son in December. “I hope we can keep this planet the way it is for a while longer…. Fighting for this is essential.”
On Schulz’s website, he says:
“For many years now there has been strong interest in expanding oil drilling in the Alaskan Arctic, both on land and offshore. Many have considered the Arctic landscape a barren wasteland or a flat, white nothingness.
I take these sentiments as a personal challenge to document an extremely remote and mostly unknown area of North America — for a public that otherwise might never see it. It’s true that at first glance some areas may seem desolate or barren. But those same areas may be teeming with life just days later, with tens of thousands of migrating caribou, or wolves or grizzlies.”
While many of us have never been to the Arctic, as these images show, it’s a special, wild place full of life — and worth protecting. Learn more about what you can do to help protect it by visiting alaskawild.org.
ALL PHOTOS © FLORIAN SCHULZ
It’s a fat season so far in south central Alaska. We’ve had relentless warm storms that are plastering the mountains with thick snow. Most of these storms are combined with winds over 100 miles per hour… while it’s grim now, the base and mid-pack are rock solid for when the good weather rolls around and the spring ski season will be huge.
Here’s a gallery with a few photos from our season so far…