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Friday
May082015

2015 Western Chugach #2

Piecing together random people for a backcountry ski group can be risky: different abilities, different strengths, different attitudes. I avoid it. But when Oliver Evans asked to join Patrick Mahoney and I, the match sounded perfect...it was. They're both nice, easy going guys. They both rip. And they both wanted to learn ski mountaineering skills, but could be swayed if the skiing was good. The skiing was good. 

We flew into the Western Chugach from Girdwood. We went sightseeing after reviewing crevasse rescue and avalanche companion rescue. Patrick is starting business school at Harvard this fall. Oliver is the banana tycoon for Southcentral Alaska. 

 

Our camp site had the necessary attribute: a backyard ski hill.  

 

After dinner, making plans for the next day.  

 

The next day we hauled our gear to a high depot on the glacier. We then booted way above the Eagle Glacier for a run.  

 

Patrick contemplating his first big run in Alaska. The slope was over 45 degrees with a good runnout. I advised him, "Avoid your sluff. Use the Doug Coombs Chugach Look to monitor the sluff. Make turns diagonally across the slope."

 

Oliver grew up in Victoria, British Columbia. Sluff management is his old buddy. 

 

Patrick avoiding his sluff on another 6,000-foot unnamed summit above the Eagle Glacier. Maybe the photographer needs to learn about sluff management!

 

Oliver booting to the summit of Raven Peak. After leading across the bergschrund he dropped his shoulder coils and ran it out to the summit ridge. Then we made zee free ski on zee north face.

 

Patrick above the Raven Glacier. Later we skied the lower sunlit snowface. Another 1,000 feet of powder. 

 

Patrick and Oliver skiing the frozen Raven Headwall. It skied like packed powder for East Coast Patrick. For West Coast Oliver it skied like clear blue ice. Either way, exciting with a full pack. 

 

Patrick and I wrapped up the trip with a circumnavigation of The Pinnacle at Hatcher Pass. Four passes and four coulies in six hours. 

 

Patrick ripping May powder below The Pinnacle. 

Thanks for a great trip guys! Are match-up groups always this fun?