Tuesday, July 8, 2008
I love how the winter season is described by two separate years. I guess one year isn't quite long enough, we need two. In Girdwood our ski season is suppose to start somewhere around Thanksgiving and and wrap up about mid-April. The 07-08 Alyeska season opened the weekend prior and closed the last weekend in April, and could have kept going well into May. Our total snowfall for the season was above average with a depth of 875" at the top. Average being about 650 inches.
This winter marked my fifth year on ski patrol at Alyeska and I have never seen a season quite like this one. The combination of tons of precipitation and a new owner at Alyeska allowed ski patrol to open a lot of terrain I have only dreamed of skiing. The headwall was open for a total of 11 days and the Monies was open for 12, neither of which I have ever had the pleasure of making turns down before. We hosted two free-skiing events and one extreme snowboarding event, and each had an opportunity on the headwall. Our snow safety program was given a heli budget and we were able to get over a dozen rides to the new weather station on the headwall and to the Max's weather station to start our avalanche control routes from the top down.
I carried my Nikon D200 in my pack almost everyday at work unless it was raining. A good portion of the control work I was involved with on a regular basis was on Center Ridge and High Traverse. I found it difficult to photograph because of the early morning low light and pressure to get the route finished before 10:30am. Also there are very few terrain features to give those images depth, so I found my best pictures were taken on the headwall routes, the North Face and the Monies.
The first picture is of a mountain called Little League in the back-country on the other side of the headwall. Skiers unknown. The next image was storm day on Ch.1 early in the morning before the mountain opened. The last picture is of a patroller placing a hand charge on the Monies route to reduce avalanche hazards.