"We are so stuck." Jeff said. I looked innocent and acted like it was a mistake. I'd just rammed the Rice Burner into a snowbank at 300-feet elevation on Turnagain Pass.
"Bummer," I said. "I guess we have to ski from here." Across the treed valley we could see gladed forest and acres of untracked, low-angle powder–perfect for managing the deep slab instabilities that have plagued Turnagain all winter. Between the road and the powder was a waterfall-choked canyon and over a mile of Hemlock rainforest. Committed, we bombed into the forest, skittered across thin ice bridges and emerged from gladed forest into the alpine several hours later. For the rest of the day we skied thousands of vertical feet of powder while avoiding steeps and shallow areas around rocks where a deep slab avalanche could be triggered. Ten inches of new snow provided entertaining, but benign soft slab avalanches.
Not all forest in southcentral Alaska involves bushwacking.
Ron Polk, Erik the Viking and Poacher Dave are the non-motorized Turnagain Hardcore. They've skied thousands of days at the Pass. I asked Ron the name of the zone where Jeff Conaway and I skied. He told me, "Wolverine Bowl, and next to it, on the Placer side, is the Flower Box." Here Jeff samples the south slopes of Wolverine Bowl.
Jeff Conaway at home.
Failure, fracture and...
...propagation! Everything is cool unless the soft slab steps down to a deep slab.
At 75-feet elevation in the bowels of Ingram Creek exploring a more vertical route back to the road.
Jeff is an excellent shoveler. I admitted to him later, that, had maturity been on my side, I could have said, "Hey Jeff, how about skiing over there and parking here?" Then we could have dug out a parking spot before parking the car. But what is a day of backcountry skiing without digging out the Rice Burner?