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I finally had two days off, the sun was shining and the wind had died down in this area of Lutak Bay. I was back in Haines, Alaska and reunited with friends. Excitement was in the air as we pulled on our boots, attached our skins and made our way through the brush.
As we started uphill, my new friend Macky told me the story of “climbing the haws.” The haws is the rope tying the boat to the dock, which can unfortunately allow for rats to climb aboard. It is also an analogy for someone who starts at the bottom and through hard work and determination, eventually finds them self at the top – with a job such as boat captain, or in our case, fresh tracks.
I mulled this analogy over as we climbed. Our mission to ski the Glory Hole began at sea level and before it was over we would find ourselves over 4200 feet with views so gorgeous I would again realize Alaska is one of the most beautiful places on earth.
I brought my Scarpa Gea RS boots for the occasion and was glad I did. Their light weight made for less cumbersome boot-packing and the Vibram soles gripped perfectly on the icy bits where we removed our skis to climb through the forest of devils club and fallen trees. The comfort offered with these boots was fully appreciated after a five hour trek to the summit. Gea is similar to my Scarpa tele-boots of previous years, but the stiffness and support offered by my nicely molded thermo-liners and rigid structure of the shell is what keeps me latching my heels down.
The mountains had taken a beating by the wind the previous two days, so we were careful in avoiding wind loaded slopes and cornices. Surprisingly though, we were able to find some soft snow on top.
So much effort climbing the haas to get some sunshine and fresh tracks! Life is good and those first turns were creamy, wide open turns all the way back into some side-slipping bushwacking through an ice laden forest.
(WildSnow Girl, Amy Heuer, grew up in the Colorado Rocky Mountains. When she wasn’t skiing, she was flying small planes with her father. Now she pursues both passions in Juneau, Alaska, where she is an aviation mechanic.)