Home Blog Intro Gear About

Ski Trips:

2017 2016 2015 2014 2013 2012 2011 2010 2009 2008 2007 2006 2005 2004 UBXC eBook

Alaska Performance Backcountry Skiing Photos and Videos
2008/2009

by: Tim Kelley

Oct - Dec Jan - Feb Mar - Apr May - Jun Summer

Driving 1700 Miles Across Alaska and Back for Work, and Play
August-September 2009: This year I made several trips to Prudhoe Bay to help the company I work for, GSI, support the SCADA (Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition) systems that we developed to help operators run the largest oilfield in the U.S.  For my last trip I decided to drive instead of fly.  I'd always wanted to drive the Haul Road (Dalton Highway), now the legendary road of the "Ice Road Truckers".  From my house in Anchorage I drove the 850 miles north to Prudhoe Bay, where I worked two weeks of 7-12's and then drove back.  That's a long way to drive, but I'm sure glad I did it.  It was fun, unique, beautiful and I would recommend to others to do this road trip if they are thinking about it. 

Heading North Up The Dalton Highway

Site of a recent forest fire Birthday at the Arctic Circle Wiseman Running from Chandalar Shelf ,,, ... up to the Continental Divide at the top of Atigun Pass
January 26, 1989: -82 F     Sag River conglomerate and fossilized coral  
At Prudhoe Bay
A nice evening at Prudhoe Bay Operator console Prudhoe Bay Running Club
Heading Back Down the Dalton Highway, and Hiking in the Brooks Range
The weather was grim in Prudhoe Bay the morning I left. But it soon turned REALLY nice! This flagman said he was off for R&R after working 8 weeks straight.  Wow.
A nice day to be a musk ox. A nice day to be driving a truck on the Dalton Highway. The Trans-Alaska Pipeline A crashed truck with the Toolik Field Station (global warming research) in the distance.
From Galbraith Lake I hiked to the boundary of the Gates of the Arctic National Preserve.  This area seemed timeless.  Totally silent - no noise from streams, wind, animals, people, trucks or planes.  The valley that leads back to Galbraith Lake is in the center of the above panoramic picture.
The next day I attempted to climb a peak north of Atigun Pass on the Continental Divide.  I got within 400 feet of the summit but turned back because I ran into rock hard crust snow with quite a bit of exposure and I didn't have my crampons with me.  Arrrrgh.  I took the above photo where I turned around.  You can see the highway climbing up the north side of Atigun Pass in this photo.
  In the above picture you can see trucks climbing up the north side of Atigun Pass.  
After getting stymied from summiting a peak earlier in the day, I was determined to get up a Brooks Range peak on such a nice day.  So I set my sights on James Dalton Mountain, a 7150 foot peak west of the Atigun pipeline camp site.  The red arrows show where I started and the summit of Jimmy D.
Looking up at the summit.   On the ridge and heading for the summit. On top, pointing back to where I started from. "Yep, 1700 miles is a long driving commute.  But throw in some nice days of hiking in the Brooks Range and it seems very worthwhile!"
The view from the summit of James Dalton Mountain. For reference - north is the direction the footprints lead.
    OK - now I've got enough antler drops to make the moose-caribou antler chandelier I've been planning for my wife's and my cabin !!    
The Dalton Highway bridge over the Yukon River.  Both vehicles and the Trans Alaska Pipeline use this bridge to cross the Yukon.
Here is a map for folks that are not familiar with where the Dalton Highway is. To my friends that work on the North Slope: If you haven't driven to work and think that driving the Dalton Highway is something you might like to try ... I encourage you to do it.  It's a fun drive through a unique and very beautiful part of Alaska.  I'm sure glad I did it !! Keep on truckin' !!

An Addictive Trail

Summer 2009: Like many folks in Anchorage, I've become addicted to a new trail system in town - the Singletrack Advocates "Bee" trails above the Hillside Ski Area.  These brand new trails are a great balance of technical challenging and flowing terrain.  So once you get your bike handling skills up a notch, you can have some great fun hammering workouts on these trails.  I used to race mountain bikes in Anchorage a lot, but I got bored with the same ole mega-wide ski trail courses.  This narrow trail system makes mountain biking in Anchorage fun again.  I've been spending way more time than I imagined I would biking on these trails.  And I think that holds true for many other MTB'ers in Anchorage.  One very cool trail system indeed!

Banked 180s!

Trail map


The Return of Cory ... and Bard Peak
August 2009: Welcome back Cory!  ... from the long and un-fun journey through Achilles tendon surgery and recovery.  Cory Smith and I finally got together this summer to climb a peak - Bard Peak east of Portage Lake.  Here are a few pictures from our trip.  By the way - if you scroll up and look at the picture on the header at the top of this web page ... that's Bard Peak (in the winter) behind the skier.  Here is a link to Cory's pictures.
Cory paddles east across Portage Lake.
Cory with Portage glacier in the background. Cory gets back to what he was missing ... good ole South-Central Alaskan bushwhacking!! Cory, Portage Glacier, Portage Lake
Bard Glacier A ridge rat scrambles away. The east ridge leading up to the summit of Bard Peak. Glacial polished rock strata.
The "Ptarmigan" Portage Lake tour boat is in the upper right.  Our red kayaks are behind the trees near the bottom of the picture. This is the upper half of the Bard Glacier Gorge.  I don't imagine it's ever been kayaked or packrafted.  It's waiting for YOU! Heading back to our kayaks. Cory took this picture that shows multiple glacial affects: glacial polished rock, a waterfall from glacial melt water and ... the chop on the water is from a wind flowing down off of Portage Glacier - a glacier wind.

Good Training on Alyeska's New North Face Tram Trail
Summer 2009: This summer John Byrne and the Alyeska Ski Resort made a brand new, unique and very cool 2.5 mile trail up the North Face of the Alyeska Ski Resort.  This trail starts out as an access road leading off to the right at the start of the Winner Creek Trail (you know you are going the right way if you soon pass a bunch of snow guns).  The trail climbs gradually around to the base of the North Face.  Then it kicks into gear for a while until it hits some unique features for Alaskan trails - switchbacks!  The switchbacks take you to the upper tram station were you can ride down for free.  This trail offers some great training options for mountain running / speed hiking and ski walking with poles.  If you use the tram ride down - you can do repeats up this trail and rack up a lot of vertical without bashing on your knees.  This trail has not been publicized much yet... so click on the map below if you want to see a GPS track of two routes you can do to utilize this new trail.
About 1/2 way up the trail. Hitting one of the first switchbacks. Following switchbacks on the tundra. A LOT of manual work went into building this trail!
Looks like an old packhorse trail made by miners.  Pretty cool! The red lines on this map (click to expand the map) show the two basic routes up the mountain that use the new trail. She's goin' hard to beat the tram to the top!

End of a 25 Year "Lynx Jinx"
Summer 2009: 25 years ago, in 1984, I tried to climb Lynx Peak in the Talkeetna Mountains at the head of the Reed Lakes drainage ... but I didn't make it to the summit.  So, for 25 years this peak was on my "unfinished business" peak-bagging list.  I seemed to always put other peaks at higher priority, or when I planned to climb this peak the weather didn't cooperate.  The "Lynx Jinx" lived on.   Recently I had a free day during nice weather and I decided to give Lynx another try.  And this time I made it to the top.  This climb is a classic Talkeetna scramble - lots of loose granite boulders you have to work your way over and do your best not to get them rolling.  Lots of people look up at this peak or pass by it going over Bomber Pass.  But I don't imagine it's climbed too often - I'd guess maybe once or twice a year on average?  My interest was re-sparked to climb Lynx Peak a few years ago thanks to fellow peak bagger and backcountry xc skier Justin Wholey.  Justin climbed Lynx in 2006 and had some great pictures of his climb on his web site - here.  A shout out to Justin - the akhiker.com dude!
Lynx Peak, 6536'.  The route goes up the shadowed gully below the left skyline, past the left of the snowfield and then on to the ridge just below the summit. Heading up.  A cloud is forming and blowing off the summit. The narrow section of the ascent gully and the sections just before the ridge required you to pay attention.  I went up in running shoes (because it's easier to sneak over loose boulders with soft shoes and not disturb them).  I came down in hiking boots. On the summit.  It took about 3 hours to reach the summit from the Reed Lakes trailhead.  A nice day in the high country ... something to savor.
360 degree panoramic from the summit of Lynx Peak.  Click on this thumbnail to expand it to a large image that shows a lot of detail.
A telephoto shot from the summit shows the remains of the B-29 on Bomber Glacier.  This plane crashed here around 50 years ago. From near the summit, looking down at Upper Reed Lake (where I climbed up from).  The Snowbird Glacier is in the distance. My sister-in-laws and nieces require me to take a few artsy shots on all my trips!
Here is a panoramic from the summit of Lynx Peak - of Bomber Glacier and the peaks of the Mint Glacier area.  I put some labels on this image to point out a few of the landmarks of this great area.  If you plan on using the huts on the Mint-Bomber Traverse route - please pay the small fee to join the Mountaineering Club of Alaska.  Your money will help the MCA maintain these very unique mountain cabins.  Click on the above image to enlarge it and make the labels readable.

Alaska-Yukon Road Tripping
Summer 2009: Last year was great for summer skiing.  Unseasonably cool temps with constant clouds made non-glacier skiing easy to pursue.  This year has been less conducive to my South-central Alaska summer skiing due to: 1) the volcanic ash the snow got smeared with (and which caused quick melting), 2) lots of warm, sunny weather and 3) the fact my wife and I no longer have elderly pets to attend to and we can get back to ... road tripping!!  Here are some shots of rambling during an Alaska-Yukon road trip. 
My wife's first time up Lion Head. Berry picking with a view. Roller skiing the Tok bike trail.  Great pavement.
But it is pancake flat and goes perfectly straight
for 8 miles.
Running across American Summit on the Taylor Highway.
Eagle, AK ... After the Historic 2009 Yukon Ice Jam Flood Devastation
If you click on this picture taken from Eagle Bluff - it will expand to a large panoramic.  You can see where there were once 60 foot tall spruce trees on the island and far bank in front of Eagle.  But these islands were given a "haircut" by the largest ice jam flood in history at Eagle this spring.  If you look closely at the river frontage of Eagle you will see wrecked houses and the old customs house tilted on downward angle.
A tilted 100 year old customs house.  100 years of spring ice jams and floods didn't damage it ... until 2009. Houses pushed off their foundations by Yukon River driven ice blocks.  Salvaged personal belongings still remain on-site under plastic. The Native village upstream from Eagle got decimated.  Disaster crews were at work relocating the village.  And moving disturbed graves. Yukon ice jam floods show no mercy on trucks.
Eagle Bluff is always good ... ... for a hike up to the ... ,... flag on top.
Tombstone Mountains in the Yukon
  Monolith Mountain.  The top section of this
mountain is hollow.  It is where the Wicked
Witch of the Yukon lives.
 
Vicious Beasts of the Yukon!
The Alpine cobra-squirrel !! The piranha pika !! The hoary moray marmot !!
Docile Beasts of Alaska - Caribou
Random Shots
Aptly named, the first weed to flourish after an Alaskan forest fire is fireweed. A caribou trail we followed on the way up Mount Fairplay off the Taylor Highway. A Native hunter scans for caribou from the summit of Mount Fairplay.
Wow!  I believe I found remains of the oldest known snowboard!   "This job is so boring.  I'm having ... zzzz ... a hard
time staying ... zzzz ... awake ... "
     
Oct - Dec Jan - Feb Mar - Apr May - Jun Summer
Alaska Performance Backcountry Skiing 2008 Skiing Pictures
2007 Skiing Pictures
2006 Skiing Pictures
2005 Skiing Pictures

2004 Skiing Pictures