(Editor’s note: The boys jury rigged the solar system and got it working enough to send us this post. It’s from last week, their second day of skiing after arriving on the glacier.)
It’s hard to reconcile the incredible experiences and perfect weather of the first three days on the glacier with life stuck inside the storm saloon.
During the first couple days on Glacier Bay, we explored the terrain enough to gain some confidence in the snowpack. For our second day of skiing, we decided to aim for the low hanging fruit just west of our camp. The closest peak holds two enticing lines facing almost directly at camp. We skinned up the glacier on the south side of the peak. We hoped to find a way to access the top of the lines from the far side so we could climb up as much out of harm’s way as possible. After comparing the south face of the ridgeline with photos of the north side, we found a fairly straight forward way to boot to the top.
Swapping skins for crampons, plates and axes, we climbed up the sun affected but mostly solid south face. We traversed onto a platform at the top and were relieved to find a skiable entrance to the line. We set up an anchor and Coop did a belayed cut and dug a pit. Satisfied with the results, he rode down and let us know that the snow was excellent below the top chute. We dug out the anchor and each dropped in turn, slowly scraping down the rimy top followed by awesome steep turns in soft snow.
I cranked a few fast turns into the flats, taking in the otherworldly landscape at the bottom, hardly believing this could be real. After a quick lunch, the skins and ropes went back on. For the second lap, we opted to skirt the crevasses by moving up a giant wind tunnel on climber’s right.
Louie and Coop led the bootpack up. It was steeper than before and they traversed right to a notch in the ridge. Once there, they yelled back that it would be hard to access the line from that notch, so I led up and left hoping to find an opening in the ridge. A delicate traverse led to a tiny perch barely big enough for one person to chop out a platform to put on skis. Dropping in, the snow was again stable and soft. Every turn was a relief after feeling a little gripped on the climb.
We hope to get another day of skiing in before the impending storm. The heli’s were present in the distance during the clear days but haven’t bothered us since the initial encounter on the first ski day.
(Guest blogger Jason Davis is a climber, kayaker and skier living in the Pacific North Wet. He works as a sea kayak guide for Discovery Sea Kayaks on San Juan Island, WA during the warmer months and searches for good views, aesthetic lines and soft snow while attempting to work as little as possible during the winter. His other hobbies include spaghetti western card games and enjoying vigorous legal debates with polite Canadian Border guards.)