Wildsnow Glacier Bay Basecamp, Tyler’s Take


Post by WildSnow.com blogger | May 2, 2013      

Tyler Wilkes

Over the past few weeks Wildsnow readers have been barraged with pictures and words from our crew raving about steep lines, deep powder, and beautiful mountains near Haines, Alaska. In between picking our jaws up off the snow after getting another mind-blowing view from a peak, joking about things that only get said on a glacier by four twenty-something guys, climbing up 65 degree spines, waiting for Russell to get ready in the morning, outrunning our slough in choker-depth AK powder, and eating 4000 calorie dinners to refuel for the next day, we did manage to pull the cameras out a few times to get some footage. I hope you enjoy.

Haines, Alaska Ski/Snowboard Basecamp 2013 from Tyler Wilkes on Vimeo

In total we spent 9 days out on an arm of the Davidson Glacier near Glacier Bay National Park scoping, climbing, and riding some classic Alaskan lines in some of the rowdiest mountains any of us have ever seen. Words cannot describe how much fun a trip like this is – but sometimes pictures and videos can help.

This was my second year in a row heading to Haines in the spring for the Alaskan experience. I speak with certainty when I say that I will be going back every year as long as I can stand on a snowboard and climb mountains. So why is Southeast Alaska such a special place?

The small town of Haines, AK with the ominous backdrop of infinite rock and ice.

The People:

The people of Alaska are an extremely unique breed – some sort of strange cross between rednecks, hippies, political defectors, and Canadians (no offence intended to anyone!). Nobody “ends up” in Alaska; they all mean to be there for one reason or another. Some are there to escape the suburban hell that most of the continent is stuck in, some are there to fish and work, and others are there to escape the rules, regulations, and norms of the rest of America. But one thing seems to be common to Southeast Alaskans – they are there to live the simple life in the outdoors. Every single person I have met in Alaska has a special story about why they are there and what they are doing, and they are more than happy to spend an hour of their day telling you all about it.

But the thing that stands out most about Alaskans is their hospitality. One would think that being from Canada, I would be accustomed to this sort of thing, but Alaskans take it to the next level. On every step of our journey, old friends, new friends, and complete strangers paved the way for our first-class Alaskan experience. Breakfasts, salmon dinners, advice, floors to crash on, drinks at the bar, conversations at the coffee shop and grocery store — you name it. Four complete strangers to the state experienced the best Southeast Alaskan’s have to offer.

View from the top of “Red Wing,” a peak on the border, west of Glacier Bay National Park. Glacier Bay and the Fairweather Range are in the background.

The Mountains:

The mountain ranges and glaciers of Southeast Alaska make you feel like you are on another planet. Every direction you look, there is an ocean of ice with steep, rugged peaks rising high above. The terrain is infinite – the entire Alaskan coastline is a vast expanse of mostly unexplored and untouched beauty. There is something about the mountains here that have a different feel than anywhere else you will visit. It will make you want to keep coming back for more every year.

Louie making his first Alaskan spine line turns in beautiful late afternoon sunlight.

The Snow:

Covering the vast expanse of glaciers and peaks is some of the highest quality, most stable snow you can imagine. The plentiful coastal storms almost always start warm and finish cold, resulting in a deep and stable snowpack consistently year after year. The downward winds coming off the 15,000ft peaks near the coast build the unique spine lines on the more inland mountains that Alaska is famous for.

Louie and Coop climbing the final pitch of “Red Wing” with 1500 ft of exposure below. Just don’t look down.

The Adventure:

Nothing in Alaska comes easy. Even the easiest runs we did involved some sort of technical glacier walk, exposed ridge climb, cornice exposure, or some other unavoidable objective hazard. Every step of a trip to Alaska is a challenge, from the planning stage, to traveling, to bootpacking up the scariest line of your life. The amazing people, the remote locations, the stellar scenery, the endless wilderness, the unpredictable weather, and the undeveloped and unexplored nature of Alaska all play a part in creating the sense of adventure that you will feel as soon as you arrive in this northern playground.

Watch out for glacier pirates.

Not many things are for sure in my life but this one is: I will be returning to AK every spring (and hopefully several more times during the season) for more trips this like for many seasons to come. So until next season…

Comments

10 Responses to “Wildsnow Glacier Bay Basecamp, Tyler’s Take”

  1. Jim May 2nd, 2013 10:46 am

    Right on! Great video. Well done, good shots, music and edit. Agree totally on AK. Love it.

  2. Lee Lau May 2nd, 2013 11:15 am

    That was really well-written and from the heart

  3. Jack May 2nd, 2013 11:43 am

    Amazing. Hope to ski there someday.
    Beautifully done and beautifully documented.

  4. Lisa Dawson May 2nd, 2013 11:48 am

    Okay, I’m salivating. Next time Louie may have his mom tagging along.

  5. Joe John May 2nd, 2013 1:34 pm

    Awesome! Thank you for sharing the video.

  6. Mike Marolt May 2nd, 2013 2:32 pm

    def enjoyed that Tyler! Great trip and nice edit.

  7. Tyler Wilkes May 2nd, 2013 9:49 pm

    Lisa you are more than welcome. Although you might be appalled at the behaviour of your son at times.

  8. Matt Kinney May 3rd, 2013 10:25 am

    AK Lisa?..it’s not that far…. 🙂 . Don’t forget lou.

  9. Drew Tabke May 6th, 2013 10:20 am

    Damn that’s some blower, cold smoke, grade-A, Alaskan powder. Nice one!

  10. Holly May 6th, 2013 11:21 pm

    Word Tyler. AK sounds out of this world. I find that, much of the time, Americans are refreshingly friendly and hospitable. Southern hospitality in Louisiana is great. . . though there’s no mountain biking or snowboarding there. . . useless to you!

Got something to say? Please do so.





Anti-Spam Quiz:

You can subscribe to comment notification by checking the box to left, but you must leave a brief comment to do so, which records your email and requires you to use our anti-spam challange. If you don't like leaving substantive comments that's fine, just leave a simple comment that says something like "thanks, subscribed" with a made-up name. Check the comment subscription checkbox BEFORE you submit.
If you need an emoticon for a comment just copy/paste off the following list, or use text code you might be familiar with.

:D    :-)    :(    :lol:    :x    :P    :oops:    :cry:    :evil:    :twisted:    :roll:    :wink:    :!:    :?:    :idea:    :arrow:   
  
Due to comment spam we moderate most comments. Please do not submit your comment twice -- it will appear shortly after approval. Comments with one or more links in the text may be held in moderation, for spam prevention. If you'd like to publish a photo in a comment, contact us. Guidelines: Be civil, no personal attacks, avoid vulgarity and profanity.

  Your Comments

  • Jah He: Thank you for sharing your story! Currently studying abroad in Vina del Mar...
  • Rick: Phil, I run the Power Wraps in my Radiums, two pair, my originals and a br...
  • Lou Dawson 2: Andy, not off topic at all, Plum demonstrates how variable the tech gap and...
  • Mark Worley: Take it to ISPO! Guaranteed conversation starter....
  • Mark Worley: Stunning views. I have to agree with Lou; many trails in such places are n...
  • Andy Carey: Probably will get lost here with all the comments--a little off topic. The...
  • Dan Powers: Nice!...
  • Pablo: As always Lou, Thanks! As you say, there are a lot well formed engineers...
  • Lisa: Beautiful! I'm always impressed how you and your crew get after it....
  • Lou Dawson 2: Pablo and all, I keep making changes and additions to this post -- and it's...
  • Lou Dawson 2: Hi Phil, unless you are quite demanding on your boots, my take is the Dream...
  • Lou Dawson 2: Hi Pablo, there is no exact number. The more flexible the ski and the longe...
  • Phil: Hi Lee, Looking to replace liners in my Garmont Radium. Hesitating between...
  • Pablo: and what about the opposite to heel gap? How many mm do you consider as th...
  • joost frakking: OK thanks a lot. I will wait with modifications until after the first snow...
  • Lou Dawson 2: This looks so wonderful, nice to see a multi-use trail in that type of loca...
  • Lou Dawson 2: Hi Mat, I truly appreciate you dropping back by with your report! Glad to h...
  • Scott Allen: As close to making turns in the alpine as it gets..in summer..love that las...
  • Mat: Hi Lou, I got my boot back from dynafit here is what they did: -they cha...
  • Lou Dawson 2: Where did you measure the pins from? From the bump on the binding housing, ...
  • joost frakking: Thanks for the suggestions! I seem to have found the cause. My pins on the...
  • Lou Dawson 2: Getting serious here in the workshop, I measured some pins. On a classic TL...
  • Lou Dawson 2: Pablo, yes indeed. Lou...
  • Pablo: There is another interesting way to give the pins room: Replace the heel f...
  • Jeff Watson: On September 18th 1979 i spent my 18th birthday on that mountain in Colorad...
  • See: I’m just thinking that maybe Joost is not measuring right. Does “right” exi...
  • Lou Dawson 2: The word "wrong" does not exist. Lou...
  • See: Note: I've never had a pair of Dynfit boots, so what do I know?...
  • See: It seems to me that if the pins on a pair of Dynafit bindings appear too lo...
  • Lou Dawson 2: Joost, set the heel gap at what works, then try stomping in. The bigger gap...

  Recent Posts


Facebook Twitter Google Instagram Youtube
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.

All material on this website is copyrighted, the name WildSnow is trademarked, permission required for reproduction (electronic or otherwise) and display on other websites. PLEASE SEE OUR COPYRIGHT and TRADEMARK INFORMATION.

Backcountry skiing is dangerous. You may be killed or severely injured if you do any form of ski mountaineering, skimo randonnee and randonnée skiing. The information and news on this website is intended only as general information. While the authors and editors of the information on this website make every effort to present useful information about ski mountaineering, due to human error the information, text and images contained within this website may be inaccurate, false, or out-of-date. By using, reading or viewing the information provided on this website, you agree to absolve the owners of Wild Snow as well as content contributors of any liability for injuries or losses incurred while using such information. Furthermore, you agree to use any of this website's information, maps, photos, or binding mounting instructions templates at your own risk, and waive Wild Snow owners and contributors of liability for use of said items for ski touring or any other use. ...

Switch To Mobile Version