The Majesty of Winter in Alaska
The mountains of Alaska hold some of the most dramatic and stunning views I could ever imagine. When blanketed in snow, their magnificence becomes even more notable. Winter in Alaska is my favorite time of year: beautiful, golden and majestic. With winter comes snow that opens up access to terrain you would not want to approach during the summer.
This winter has been a warm one up here in Girdwood, Alaska. On normal years rain at sea-level is not unheard of, but this year, due to some effects from El Nino, it has rained around 90 percent of the time. At times it has a been a bit dreary, but luckily my fiancé and I are backcountry enthusiasts, and we have found incredible snow and climbing when we make the commitment to skin to higher elevations or head north for adventure. My Deuter Guide 45+L pack has been essential to all of our winter pursuits. I can easily fit all of my climbing gear, attach skis and carry plenty of cold-weather gear.
The Matanuska Valley, located just north of Palmer, Alaska, is home to some of the state's best ice climbing. During the summer, Caribou Creek has some serious white water, but once the winter temperatures freeze over the creek, it provides access to endless climbing. With my Deuter pack full of gear, we had an incredible time wandering the creek and climbing routes. Our trip was complete as we finished the day climbing Kid's Corner, a fantastic, moderate four pitch route up a frozen waterfall that wanders up a tight canyon.
With warmer temperatures over the next several weeks, the ice fell out of fashion, and we found ourselves heading further north to Denali State Park in search of some adventure skiing.
Panorama Peak is a mountain located off of the Parks Highway. Due to frequent winds, other than in several tight couloirs, the mountain holds very little snow. We picked a route and decided to climb up one of the couloirs that was flanked by one hundred foot rock walls.
Per usual the wind was whipping and we were nailed with spindrift. We made it about 1,000 feet up where we encountered alpine ice that was impossible to ski. Excited and with great snow conditions we were able to put on our skis and descend the chute. Our time in Denali was complete with a clear night while camping. It allowed us to watch as the distinct green of the Aurora Borealis danced across the sky above the Alaska Range. This truly is one of Mother Nature's most spectacular displays.
Alaska is a remarkable place. It provides a feeling of freedom and provokes a will to explore further and deeper into the wilderness. Every adventure we embark on reminds me of how sacred this landscape is to me, and just how truly lucky I am to experience its brilliance.