Valdez Ski Report – December 4, 2015-1700AKT
SKI – EXCELLENT – Knee deep powder on all aspects and elevations in Thompson Pass with some surface imperfections above 3500, but deeper powder than roadside.
AVY – GOOD stability abounds and no recent activity. Skinned through 18″ powder on a hard base soloing Schoolbus to mid-mountain, then the hard base disappears with some soft, minor surface slabs and drifting present along bumps and exposed terrain. Pole probes at this elevations showed variable below the surface with some soft layering, but mostly bottomless powder. No pits were dug. Ski cuts at 35 degrees produced minimal sluffing.
With that said, Thompson Pass terrain is vast, complicated and smothered in fresh, deep snow making avalanche forecasting a challenge. Travel safely and continually assess stability as you venture higher and enter steeper terrain. The higher you skin the less likely you will be able to find small test slopes. Stay spread out regardless of conditions when traveling on, under or down avalanche terrain, that generally being anything beyond 28 degrees. A good distance is your beacon’s maximum range to a partner. It’s ok to gather and chat, but once back on the trail spread out again. This is hard to do when the person in front of you is breaking trail. But find the pace and stay back and aware. Skiing can be social most the time, but sometimes, it requires more attention to details.
WEATHER – PARTLY CLOUDY with less clouds to the north of the Pass with sunny skies likely during the weekend. Temps cool to the upper teens with some pesky north winds developing Saturday afternoon along ridges and through gaps, which may change stability and ski conditions rapidly above 4000′ due to dry, transportable snow.
100 Foraker – Valdez – Depth 55cm New 20cm
Comments: Port Valdez is looking good and the Sugarloaf route from the hatchery looks almost in. Lower approaches to the Gulleys is brushy but easily skinned and skied. Watch for “tarheads” skiers global warming and generally making a lot of racket in an otherwise stellar, snowy Alaska.