SKI TOURING ALASKA

FEBRUARY - MARCH 2018

PHOTO BY: KELLI SPENCER

This is my best friend Jaclyn. From the moment I met her, she has said yes to all my adventures and ideas, even when they seem too out of reach or too hard or too crazy. It's why I love her so much. She's fearless, and trusting, and loyal. This is us sleeping in a tent in -7 degree weather in February in Alaska on a ski trip I proposed. She hadn't been on a big backcountry trip before, but she said yes:

PHOTO BY: KELLI SPENCER

I stayed up late planning our route with the glare of my laptop burning my eyes. Everyone else was asleep. I looked at my clock and it said 02:13. I climbed into bed and ran through the list of everything we had packed one more time. I wanted to be sure we had everything. 

PHOTO BY: ADOBE IMAGES

Dawn Patrol. We woke up early and geared up before first light. “You’re the best driver in Ski boots” Jaclyn said, and so, like many other times, I was elected to drive. We headed out as snow continued to fall. The forecasted “1-3 inches overnight” had turned into 9”...and it was still coming down. 

PHOTO BY: KELLI SPENCER

PHOTO BY: KELLI SPENCER

We started off the trailhead giggling and gleeful, and quickly resolved into a silent march through the now foot of new snow. We both skinned and appreciated the calm and beauty that accompanies a light snowfall, and enjoying the peace and quite. Occasionally one of us would declare how great the snow was. 

Several hours passed and we trudged on. My hip was killing me and a blister that I had from another ski trip was quickly getting larger. Jaclyn had developed some blisters as well. The skin track got steep quickly, and we pushed on. 

It got to both of us. I had been exhausted from doing back to back to back Ski trips with no rest days. She was tired and hungry and irritated with her feet. Our cabin wasn’t as close as we were expecting. But we trudged on. Even at these moments when we were pushing our physical limits, we were surrounded by immense beauty and in each other’s company. 

PHOTO BY: JACLYN JOHNSON

PHOTO BY: KELLI SPENCER

Finally, i saw it. Our Backcountry cabin we were aiming for: Powder Hut. The temps were dropping. We knew in advance that there wouldn’t be a way to heat the cabin, and so Jaclyn brought 50 adhesive hand and body warmers. We also set up our emergency tent inside the cabin to contain our body heat, and as the temps dropped below zero, we were happily sitting in our sleeping bags roasting from multiple warmers taped to our body. Something she will always bring I never will, but in this moment I am incredibly grateful. It’s one of the million reasons she’s my best friend. 

PHOTO BY: KELLI SPENCER

We mixed our food together to have a weird mix of Parmesan noodles and garlic powder potatoes. But everything tastes better in the backcountry. We drank canned wine and coffee and laughed and chatted until the sun went down. The we each went to sleep roasting in our hand-warmer pouches and excited for the powder runs tomorrow will bring. For myself, I couldn’t be more excited to share this incredible place and adventure with my best friend. 

PHOTO BY: KELLI SPENCER

I woke up in the middle of the night to clear skies. The turnagain arm shown in the moonlight off in the distance. It stayed clear until morning, and with even more snow...conditions were awesome. 

We made breakfast and clicked in, and skinned up the mountain. It was one of the hardest skin tracks I have ever set. Fresh deep powder and every step was a workout. Up and up we went and got our first run in. 

PHOTO BY: JACLYN JOHNSON

PHOTO BY: KELLI SPENCER

PHOTO BY: KELLI SPENCER

Back at the cabin, we packed up and went up out skin track again for another run. The second run was even better as we dropped into the bowl. Face shots and waist deep powder and we plowed down the mountain whooping and hollering with glee. With perfect bluebird conditions and epic powder this is one of the best ski days I’ve had in Alaska, ever. And to top it off I got to share it with my best friend. 

PHOTO BY: KELLI SPENCER

PHOTO BY: KELLI SPENCER