Nellie Juan Lake with Jeff

If you have an airplane, Alaska is at your fingertips. My neighbor and ski buddy Jeff Conaway now has the bush plane of dreams: a 1965 PA-18, better known as a Piper Supercub. It is equipped with wheel skis two feet wide. It is the most coveted transportation machine in Alaska.

Jeff picked me up at 7am and we drove two minutes to his plane at Merrill Field. Seeing clear skies to the south, we scratched our original plans for the Tordrillos, and went to the Kenai Mountains. 


Avgas isn't cheap, but it's still cheaper than skiing at Alyeska. 


We first flew over Turnagain Pass to admire our roadside skiing. 

 

Then over Grandview to see a massive pile on the tracks. Although it's been a winter-long glide avalanche cycle, this one may have been a persistent slab, awakened by the warm March sun. 

 

Above Nellie Juan Lake in the Kenai Mountains, deciding where to land and ski. 

 

Jeff at Nellie Juan Lake, putting the cozy on Cubby's engine. 


Nellie Juan Lake is surrounded by ski terrain. 

 

We chose a glacier circuit, sticking to terrain with low consequences if an avalanche should occur. A recent storm dropped 10-15 feet of snow at Turnagain. Turnagain is dry compared to Nellie Juan. 

 

Jeff above Day Harbor and Prince William Sound.

 

Smooth and creamy snow.  

 

A cornice fall avalanche in an unnamed valley. 

 

On the flight home we buzzed skiers on The Captain's Chair at Turnagain Pass. 

 

Glide cracks on Cornbisuit. This is the longest glide avalanche cycle in memory. Glides have been in the advisory for over 60 days. Glide avalanches are not predictable. You can't trigger a glide avalanche. All you can do is stay away, like these tracks indicate. 

Thanks for an incredible day Jeff! I think I'll swap in my Toyota for a Supercub.