Climbing the Glory Hole Hawser out of Haines, AK


Post by WildSnow.com blogger | May 10, 2013      
skinning

Amazing what you can access right from outside of Haines, Alaska!

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.

sealevel

At the carpark. The mission to find snow begins.

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.

scouting

Checking out the options.

club

Some first tracks begin with a chair lift, others with a heli drop. Ours begins with a bushwhack through devils club, deviouss, erect, woody stems covered in brittle spines that grow over three feet tall.

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.

stoked

Really excited to be here! Not many places where you can access views of the ocean by a skin from your car.

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.

chik

Looking down into Lutak Bay.

haines

Looking back towards Haines and the area where Louie and his crew skied a few weeks ago.

scenic

Not the most gripping terrain, but an awesome day nonetheless -- and plenty safe. The uphill through the forest was the most epic part of all.


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(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.)

Comments

6 Responses to “Climbing the Glory Hole Hawser out of Haines, AK”

  1. Kevin May 10th, 2013 11:22 am

    Nice TR, but immediately going off topic – saw this written up elsewhere on the interlinks and thought the (western states) Wildsnow following would be interested – http://www.jpl.nasa.gov/news/news.php?release=2013-154 cooperation between CA, Co & NASA to map snow coverage – primarily for estimating snowmelt, but also useful (eventually) for finding the goods. Hopefully the maps will soon be available to the general public.

  2. Tyler Wilkes May 10th, 2013 1:37 pm

    Nice one Amy! Hopefully we can time it right and get some skiing together next year

  3. Forest May 12th, 2013 5:23 am

    Great TR! Some of the best days in the backcountry are not on the most extreme terrain.

  4. Gregg Cronn May 12th, 2013 8:15 am

    What a wonderful way to start my day. Loved seeing your story this am and the pictures make it seem like it was a gorgeous day out in the mountains. Another reason why I love dropping by on this site daily.

  5. Jack May 12th, 2013 12:24 pm

    Photos are just beautiful. Scrambling through the forest appears to be plenty challenging. There is something inspiring to me about climbs exposing great vistas. The back country isn’t all about steep, for me at least.

  6. Lou Dawson May 12th, 2013 3:15 pm

    Jack, yeah, I’m thinking Lisa and I need to live in Alaska at least once!

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Welcome to Louis (Lou) Dawson's backcountry skiing information & opinion website. Lou's passion for the past 50 years has been alpinism, climbing, mountaineering and skiing -- along with all manner of outdoor recreation. He has authored numerous books and articles about ski touring and is well known as the first person to ski down all 54 of Colorado's 14,000-foot peaks, otherwise known as the Fourteeners! Books and free ski touring news and information here.

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