Friday, July 15, 2016

i want to ski bold peak

Bold peak ski:
     The idea of skiing a non-technical peak with potentially more vert than the great Pioneer was enticing to me.  Not only that, but I couldn't find any info on skiing it.  As I have learned, no internet information doesn't mean it hasn't been done.  Many folks have done cool things and not mentioned it to anyone, especially up here in Alaska.  Nonetheless, I wanted to try it.
     Given the avy potential, I didn't feel safe skiing it alone.  Last season I let it pass un-skied and it plagued me.  With a dramatic shift in short-term life-trajectory, I felt convicted to get it done.  Fortunately, Hardcore Harvey was down for the objective.
     Spring conditions can be hard to predict, especially if you consider elevations ranging from ~1300' to ~7500'(Bold peak) deeper in the Chugach State Park.  There wasn't much internet info on Bold for April so it was indeed a gamble of respectable size considering our approach was human-powered AND in a low-snow year.

     We biked in with our gear in tow.  As we did, a posse of ATV-riding skiers passed us saying, "seeya at the hut!".  As it turned out, they were likely doing the Eklutna Traverse, but part of me thought they would be crowding our route up Bold.  We camped that evening at the East Fork split with the skies sputtering a rain/snow mix.  Hardcore packed the gourmet as usual.
       An early-ish start had us hiking to the base......and climbing Stiver's Gully on talus as far as we could see.  Fortunatly we found a continuous snowpatch within ~800' of the river-bottom and began to skin (or boot, depending on preference) up the traditional hiking route.  We were lucky to have perfect weather.  As for wildlife, we saw goats and bear tracks while continuing up.  The conditions were crusty from the freeze-thaw temperature patterns.  It would make for good corn later if it warmed up enough.  After the fixed-rope section we started to see the dust-on-crust from last nights' precip and enjoyed soft skinning up to the summit-ridge.  The ridge section is in the sun and we had some difficulty with ice/rotten snow combinations as it was a high-elevation, south-facing face.  And it's so hot in the sun: cooker.

     Baked and fried, we reached the summit and were awarded with the views that Bold peak offers: Eklutna lake, Chugach mountains, Eklutna Traverse, and glaciers galore.  After oogling at the NW face potential of Bold, we skied from the summit back down (bucket-list check) on icy-conditions.  Not shortly after, we found sun-softened snow, merging to dry dust in the gully shadows.  We skied to the fixed-rope section and skied the LOOKER's/Ascender's left gully, or SKIER's right low route, totally avoiding the fixed-rope section with ease and keeping the skis on.  As someone who is fearful of heights, I strongly recommend taking lookers' left gully in the winter/spring.  This will spare you fixed-rope spice and give you a preview of the skiable route down with boot-able conditions.

     We skied down on suprisingly pleasant corn to our skin-up point and descended to the river valley from there.  I estimate we got 5000' of vert as iphone GPS can't read accurately in the gully.   After reaching basecamp, we bike out under more AK spring conditions.

     More vert than Pioneer?  Perhaps not this time.  Answering a burning question and accomplishing an objective?  Well worth it.

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