And then it snowed. After 20+ days of high pressure, bluebird conditions in the Chugach, something was bound to give. At the end of our previous week the writing was on the wall. Although the storm wasn’t that big for AK standards, the 10-18” of new snow was a blessing for the last official week of Tour Camp, and we made sure to enjoy it to the fullest.
In the greater scheme of things, the huge window of good weather experienced by Tour Camp this season was a dream come true. It allowed for deep exploration and a strong confidence in daily forecasting that’s uncommon in the Chugach. However, nearing the end of our season, Jeff, Wes and I weren’t the only ones hoping for a solid dump before all was said and done.
The storm came in relatively warm and finished off cold. Stability in our area was generally good, but with reports of big instabilities over the hill towards Valdez, we kept it cool for the most part and simply enjoyed the best snow of our season.
Our visitors this week were a mixed group hailing from Canada, Russia, Colorado and Utah. Even though Steph, Dave, Tim, Sarr, Brian, Chris, Eric and Tyler were a broken group, they quickly gelled and acted like a collective of eight right from the start. That’s one of the great things about Tour Camp. Even if you show up as a solo or double in a group of eight, chances are, you’ll be making friends and potentially finding future mountain partners as a result of coming together in this special part of the world.
The week started off a bit slow thanks to the questionable weather that initially coated us with 10 inches of new snow to play with. Snow showers added another 4-8 inches over the week, and added with some solid wind, kept us closer to camp enjoying more pure powder skiing than we had all season.
As the week progressed we adventured out to the “Rest Day Couloir” and worked with our conditions in the best manner we could. Near the end of the week some snow sliders were able to get a bit deeper into the zone towards “Shakedown St.” while a few others explored some previously unskied terrain off the Simpson Glacier.
On the last day of the season Eric was able to knock out a Tour Camp first with the inaugural speed flight of “Home Bowl”. He completely nailed it and set the tone for a fabulous final day of the client season where we were all treated to the most vibrant display of northern lights yet to be experienced at Tour Camp.
All of a sudden it was Saturday and time to pack up. This time no new guests were scheduled to come out as our season had come to an end. With the help of several members of the PNH crew (in between NoBoard descents of “Home Knoll”) Tour Camp was cleaned, packed and headed back on the helicopters to the Orca Lodge. Stay tuned for the last AK edition of State of the Backcountry dropping next week, which will wrap up our season in total with unpublished photos from the season.
“State of the Backcountry” is sponsored by Alpenglow Sports. Established in 1979, Alpenglow Sports is Tahoe City’s original mountain shop. Specializing in Backcountry and Nordic skiing, snowshoeing, trail running, backpacking, hiking, camping, and the mountain lifestyle apparel, Alpenglow is always psyched to offer premier user-based customer service. You can check out more “State of the Backcountry” reports through Facebook, Instagram and its website.
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Previous “State of the Backcountry” Reports from the 2013-2014 season: