March 19, 2013

AK Livin'

When the McQuade's head to AK its to enjoy the near perfect hilariously deep snowpack of the Chugach.  Typically enjoying long tours with friends supplemented with summit top beers shooters?  Usually we trade in Colorado's incomparable bluebird days for a week of AK Livin' and amazing split tours.  Key word being USUALLY...This trip was wild!  There was no trading of clear blue skies here.  We toured all 6 days underneath the definition of bluebird skies! Colorado you would of been proud.  So what did we trade in for a week of Ak Livin' We needed to trade something in... right?  So we decided to sacrifice hours of skinning.  You know that fun but sometimes painfully continuous climb up endless vertical feet, to gain that super-long untouched white canvas to carve up.  Yup yup we traded it in for a day...for a snow machine bump.  That's right...Sled-Necks for a day!  Great fun! and hey babe by the way....if ...your looking for that perfect Christmas gift idea :) :)

Livin' It Up AK Style

3/15 - Manitoba to Silvertip Traverse:

An overview of the tour can be seen below, followed by a few different views of the endless terrain of the sector.  The day however turned into a few laps off of Manitoba thanks to a monster of a cornice looming over the apex of the ridges connecting the two peaks.  Once we all reached the summit of Manitoba and spotted the short-bus sized cornice, plan B started going through all of our heads....summit mini's?  

Overview of Manitoba to Silvertip Traverse

Ridge Traverse

East Face Descent off  Silvertip

Puckering Cornice Crux
click on photo and zoom in at the meeting point all the three ridge lines

The Ladies Plan B - Sarah Beth and K

Give Me Back My Tequila Rose - Sarah Beth and Anson

3/16 - Tenderfoot Ridge

Awesome new sector, away from the Turnagain Pass crowds, with easy access and a wealth of options from tree skiing to steep narrow couloirs.  Below is a overview of the access point from the tip of Summit Lake, allowing for a ski back to the car if one returns to the lower half of Tenderfoot after skiing back further in the basins.  We skied a few laps of the SW face of upper Tenderfoot Ridge, then skied W traversing out of the basin back towards the lower section of the ridge, which allows for another nice run back down to the car.  

Overview of Tenderfoot Ridge Sector

Tenderfoot Up-Track Recycle - Anson

Cloudless Reflections

3/17 - Sled Neckin' Pyramid Peak

Pyramid Peak is the eye catching peak often noticed as you fill up your car......oh ya and sled at the Girdwood Tesoro gas station.  Pyramid Pk rises roughly 3400' right from the waters edge of the Turnagain Arm.  Its west face provides a perfect 3000' shot.  Well almost perfect....minus yet another monster of a cornice.  Even though the cornice killed the chances of bragging  to the guy next to me during the next Tesoro fill up..."see those lines on Pyramid?"..."yup my wife rips"  We still got to cut out those long miles skinning, got to play sled-necks for a day, had a near 3000' vert run off the SW shoulder of Pyramid Peak, followed by two more long runs as we worked our way back to the car being picked up and escorted to the next drop point by our friends.  Who by the way probably skied 16,000 vert as they ghosted their sleds down the mountain.  Ghost Riding: basically push your sled down the mountain, once it comes to a stop you ski down after it, then ride it back up and repeat.  Awesome
Overview of Pyramid Pk - intended W face in red - rode yellow line

Sled-Neckin' - Darcie Badass and K 
aspect skied on pyramid pk in background

Wolverine Sector 
taken from summit of Pyramid Pk

Yin & Yang AK Style - Wolverine Pk with Shadows crawling from Sharksfin and Eddies
taken from Seattle Ridge at sunset during final run back to the car

3/18 - Peterson Creek

Can't wait to go back to this sector!  So many lines!  The ascent is a bit of a booger, involving creek crossings early on at lower elevation, then choosing to ascend the steep head wall below the upper basin, or heading back along the drainage and wrapping back to the right to the upper basin, both approaches keep you among avalanche terrain for the majority of the approach. 

Peterson Creek Cirquecenter of pic
taken from summit of Pyramid Pk


Peterson Creek Goodness - after ascending the lower head wall

AK Livin' at its Best

Peterson Creek Head Wall - Dan In Route from Upper Basin Goods to Creek Approach
Notice the shadow being cast by Pyramid Peak in the background

3/19 - Tincan Ridge "Todd's Run"

It was Day 6 and time to return to CO thus we needed a familiar priorities were 1) a rad long line 2) time for midnight sun brewery apr├Ęs beers and 3) try not to miss our flight as we both worked the same day we landed in CO.  A recipe for "Todd's Run" as called by the locals, was named after Todd who was killed on the line as the entire bowl ripped out.  I don't dynamite could even get anything to move during our week visit.  Stability was like nothing us Colorado-ans will ever see:)  K and I had skied it a few years back, and it was still well a "rad long line"

Overview of  "Todd's Run" - 3000'

All 3000' of Todd's - pic's center 
taken from summit of Pyramid Pk
Notice the peak in lower right corner - the tracks are from the gang Ghost Riding 

Tincan Ridge - Sarah Beth and K

Bootin' - Tincan Ridge

Til Next Time

March 1, 2013

OPUS Shindig-Ski

OPUS short for Ophir Pass Ultimate Ski hut, sits in the midst of the magnificent San Juan's of Colorado

Owner, designer and operator Bob Kingsley spent numerous years guiding amid Colorado’s renowned 10th Mountain Division Huts. During this time the game plan was put into motion... Bob's dream to find the perfect location to build  his own dream hut. In 2006 he purchased a 10 acre mining claim on the east side of Ophir pass.  After five years of hauling materials via helicopter, snowcat, and countless human powered trips to the remote location, the hut was finished and opened its doors for the 2012 winter season.

Its kinda of hard to call the OPUS a hut, perhaps a mega-hut is more appropriate.  As its 3-stories and 4 bedrooms are able to comfortably sleep 16 guests.  The entire structure is built from both locally sourced and reused timber, some as far away as an old dairy barn in Wisconsin. The amenities and completely off-the-grid design are what makes the OPUS the ultimate ski hut.  No need to boil-water to fill your water bladder for the days tour, as  melt-water is the main source of water. A series of copper gutters and pipes collect snowmelt from the southern aspects of the pitched roof.  The water is filtered multiple times before being stored in one of two storage tanks (350 and 500 gallon).  There are also solar panels on the roof, which provide electricity, water heating capabilities and in floor heating.  Two wood burning stoves help keep the hut at a toasty 70 degrees. The kitchen is equipped with both a gas stove and a large flattop wood burning stove, which is also equipped with a heat exchanging oven.

So whats missing you say....showers?  Well just recently Bob finished a sauna about 30 yards from the lodge.  After drawing straws for fire stoking duty, give it about 45 minutes then strip down thrown on those slippers and brave the cold before achieving complete relaxation in a balmy 160 degree wet sauna.  As for the shower part, once you've reached cooking temperature, take a snowbath.       

As for the skiing and terrain options...lets just say its world class and endless!   

Shitshow Sledding

 During our stay we witnessed Bob's cooking for other groups....lets just say next time this sled may only have beer loading it down :)

OPUS - Ophir Pass Ultimate Ski hut

Icicles and Spindrifts
Notice the copper gutters for the snow-melt water collection

Moon over Crystal
Todd - Below Pt. 13200'
With Paradise Basin, "Camel Hump Glades", and "Crystal Fortress" in the background

Mike - Eying "Crystal Fortress"

"Camel Humps" Transition


Todd- Riding the "Camel Humps"
Our tracks from earlier in the day are seen descending ridge-line at right edge of photo
(see pic below)

Contemplation of Descent - "Crystal Fortress"

Ronia - OPUS mascot and ultimate ski dawg

Thomas - "Yellow Pants" Scores a Rest

Suit Up

Thomas - Paradise Basin looming Overhead

Day 4 - OPUS Fills Up


Da Crew OPUS 2013
See ya next year, Who's in?