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Skiing in August... check

USA | Monday, 8 August 2011 | Views [384]

This could be the highlight of the trip thus far. I think what makes is especially glorious was the complete swing of emotion. The day we drove up to the Gulkana glacier it was cold and raining. We were already wet from the previous nights rain, as was some of our gear. We sat in the car and played cards through the afternoon rain and hailstorms. By evening however the skies cleared and on our scouting hike, the mood started to change. 

We woke up early and it was bitter cold. I was surprised we did not have a layer of frost on the tent. We had our bags pack the night before so we were quickly on the trail. There was an awesome swing bridge in the first mile to cross one of the glacial streams. We had walked the swing bridge the night before, but it is much more difficult with a full pack and skis on your back. 

Once on the glacier, I was just in constant awe at the sheer mass of ice and features created in the frozen block. Streams ran on top of the ice and through it. There were huge crevasses visible across the way. Blue ice, fresh snow, cool miniature ice spires formed in between a thin layer of gravel. It was awesome enough just hiking on the glacier! After hiking up we were going to ski down, incredible!

For 5 hours we hiked up the glacier. It was a very gentle slope, hardly steep enough to ski down, but there were chutes within reach which we were aiming at. The ice gradually turned from rock hard blue ice with tons of gravel mixed in, to mounded white ice that would almost be edge-able if it were smooth and finally to fresh snow. It seems the previous days miserable rain produced snow on the glacier. 

Unfortunately we were unable to get to the chutes we had been eyeing. A large crevasse field blocked our path. With now glacial experience, no harnesses and no rope we had to do the safe thing and turn back. It was a fun hike up, well worth it. Even though it was such a gentle slope down I strapped on my skis. It was the most fun I have had on any bunny slope and by far it was the most dangerous bunny slope of all. 


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