20th Year of On-line Valdez Ski Reports Begins Today
Yep, used to use dial-up with one of the first small lap-top Apples and a program called AppleWorks back in the day at the Chalet. Today it’s a pocket camera with HD video, edited, uploaded to the Net and to the ski world for near daily reports on your laptops or palm-sized phone. It’s been a passion to not only share the Chugach and chase the technology of the information age, but mostly, to celebrate the wonders of backcountry skiing in the best ski mountains on the planet.
It’s hard to not pinch myself to see it’s been real, but I’m heading into my 36th season of nothing but skinning Valdez, guessing I am one of many trying to emphatically “save our snows”. Twenty years ago, global warming was barely an issue compared to noise. Now it is the Issue of our time and our snowy lifestyle. I still can’t fathom why one needs a sled to ski or a day-heli to yo-yo the front range. I think I’m a testament that you don’t need that to get to the goods. There is lifetime of backcountry skiing in Valdez.
Some 13,000 inches later and a gazillion feet of breaking trails to nirvana, things are different and thus my goals are changing. Not really interested in pioneering anything anymore. Steep will happen when conditions are perfect instead of in that “gray area” of risk and reward. The more I distance myself from guiding and close in on my 60’s, it seems like a good thing to ski for the simple joy of skiing. So balance works best in my matrix which centers on longevity. Conservative route choices and constant assessment are my greatest values in my new matrix as in the old. The reward after all those inches, observations, forecasts and local knowledge is that powder can be had anytime I like to think.…..if you can break the trail and get some sweat on. Anyway, on with the ski season.
Short video report…then some more.
Big storm dumped a couple of feet over the tundra through yesterday. I peeked out the window at 5am and saw stars. On the trailhead for sunrise.
Not so fast was the solo pace as I simply stepped into thigh working snow which was hip deep off the skis. But I persisted around deep, facet gardens around brush and soon found some rhythm, pecking of modicum of vertical. Nice 3 hour tour being cautious with soft slaps aplenty and slightly masked D1 debris broken by stretches of light powder.
After a few hours poking around and scaring up ptarmigan I headed down in time to meet the noon crowd on the way up towards my test tele’s of the past.