VALDEZ, ALASKA

FEBRUARY - MARCH 2018

PHOTO BY: BEN DAIGLE

Day One: I went to Alaska to film some skiing stuff with my sponsors. I also had a personal objective with my down time, which was to Ski the Bomber Traverse. It’s something I’ve tried to do before and got turned around due to conditions. Unfortunately, weather shut me down again. An incredibly unstable snowpack, lots of Avalanches and 18” of new snow and a storm the morning we were supposed to leave made the decision clear: Bail and do something else.With all the gear, equipment, food and whisky for a multi-day big mountain traverse, we headed to Valdez where the conditions were supposed to be better and safer, and where the terrain is massive.

We were lucky and were able to stay in a friends cabin in Thompson Pass. A true gritty Alaska Cabin...everything you'd imagine from no running water, unfinished, and no way to access the second floor yet. At least we were inside, instead of in a tent in the oncoming storms.

Day Two: We headed towards Worthington Glacier with the objective to skin up the south-east face and summit Girls Mountain. With a low-snowpack year, the glacier was wide open with crevasses, making the usual route un-skiable. So we planned a different route: Head up the ‘Skate Park’ (another peak left of Girls), cut through a valley and summit Girls Mountain. Half-way up and closer to the valley cut, we realized we weren’t going to be able to summit Girls. What looked like a very wind-loaded face and some nasty recent slides, we decided to summit the ‘Skate Park’. The new route and detour added an additional 4 miles from our original 3 mile-to-summit plan. The sun moved across the sky and up and up we went. We were stopped about 60m from the summit of Skate Park because of a VERY wind-loaded and unstable wall, and cornices. We couldn’t summit. The sun was getting low, and the decision was clear: ride what we could. So, we enjoyed shots of whisky on the highest point of our day, clicked in, and rode the 7 miles down the mountain. 

PHOTO BY: BEN DAIGLE

PHOTO BY: BEN DAIGLE

PHOTO BY: BEN DAIGLE

PHOTO BY: KELLI SPENCER

PHOTO BY: KELLI SPENCER

PHOTO BY: KELLI SPENCER

PHOTO BY: KELLI SPENCER

PHOTO BY: KELLI SPENCER

PHOTO BY: KELLI SPENCER

PHOTO BY: KELLI SPENCER

PHOTO BY: KELLI SPENCER

It was wind packed in spots, crusty in spots, but like the name suggests, had a lot of natural features to play on. We chose separate lines and jumped crevasses, wind lips, and I found two massive pockets of powder which was what I had been searching for. I even booted back up to hit a wind-lip jump into the powder twice. It was wonderful. I loved the diversity of the day, the fact that I did find powder, and that I was surrounded by some of the most magnificent scenery you could imagine.

 

Im still eying the Bomber, but I’ve learned that being able to turn back gracefully and being open to a new plan is vital to success. I’m already checking weather for the traverse and planning another go of it with some skilled Backcountry crew. Hopefully soon I can tackle it. Until then, thankful for the goods Valdez brought. 

PHOTO BY: BEN DAIGLE

PHOTO BY: JORDYN STIBITZ

PHOTO BY: KELLI SPENCER

PHOTO BY: KELLI SPENCER