Wow! I still can’t believe where I am; surrounded by glaciers and mountains that are more magnificent than any I’ve seen in years. Spectacular ski lines shine in every direction.
After waiting for several rainy days in a half-built garage in Haines (it had a roof at least), we finally encountered good weather. Wednesday we arrived early at Fly Drake’s hanger and scrambled to pack up the plane. We were excited since no other ski groups had landed in Glacier Bay this year.
The flight was nothing short of stunning. Two days later I’m still processing it. After a long reconnaissance flight, we found an outstanding zone to camp. The area is just outside of the heli-skiing permit area, relatively close to town, making logistics easier and cheaper. It’s also at a relatively high elevation, important in this below average Alaskan year. We are camped on a big valley glacier, surrounded by peaks, spines, and more glaciers.
After landing, we quickly set up part of our camp and then headed out to ski. Being dropped into a completely new area, our goal was to explore the area and evaluate the unfamiliar snowpack. We made our way up to a ridge above camp, dug a few pits and cut a cornice. The snow was incredible! Very stable, with a consistent gradient from blower powder to stable coastal snow a few feet down.
The rest of the day and the next we skied several marvelous runs. The skiing has been superb, and a completely new experience. I’ve learned an immense amount in the last few days about skiing, avalanche safety, and myself. I’d better go to bed, so I’ll let the photos tell the rest of the story.
Here are the photos in chronological order. You can mess with the order for the post if you want. Choose whatever order you want for the cover photo as well.
(Editor’s note, we heard the boys got one more day of good weather and skied something nice and big. More coming.)
Louie Dawson earned his Bachelor Degree in Industrial Design from Western Washington University in 2014. When he’s not skiing Mount Baker or somewhere equally as snowy, he’s thinking about new products to make ski mountaineering more fun and safe.