Hanging Valley Chutes

Cooler Fest 2010 is on! Cooler Fest begins when everyone else hangs up their boards for the season. During May through June the Western Chugach are crammed with snow-filled gullies. Some call these snow-choked gullies "couloirs," but lacking the French heritage, Dave Bass and I opt for the more American term "coolers." Cooler Fest is such a hit that we think Coleman should host the event with lawn chairs, beer chests and sun tents for the crowds.

On June 5, we headed up to Hanging Valley off the South Fork of Eagle River, 30 minutes from Anchorage. We'd remembered Hanging Valley from mid-summer running jaunts. This time Dave and I entered Hanging Valley and saw a basin of fun.  

Dave banging a few tussocks to warm up. Cooler I is lookers left of Dave. Lookers right of Dave is is the pencil-thin Cooler II that drops right and joins Cooler III.

First turns into Cooler I. Dave says he's having more fun since he's wearing red pants. 

Lower flanks of Cooler I. Beyond is Harp Mountain above Hiland Road.

Avalanche-scour peppered with rocks in Cooler I. Cooler Fest isn't just about skiing. It's about the feature and the party. Survive winter in Anchorage and you'll understand the party that goes on in June. 

Hmmm, we've maxed-out the clinometer on Cooler II. Maybe there's a market for specialized cooler clinometers.

The gullet of Cooler II.

Low angle cooler cruising in Cooler III.

New age summertime chute sticks: K2 165cm Sahales with 69mm underfoot. Gabe Rogel gave these to me after taking them to the Fairweather Mountains. Gabe used an ultralight pair without topsheets to ski Shishapangma (8,013m), the fourteenth highest mountain in the world. Thanks for the boards Gabe!