Tuesday, April 24, 2012


"Skookum" is an old Alaska term for "good, sturdy, or stout".  For example, if you build a cabin that'll keep you warm for the winter without the roof caving in from the snow, it's a skookum cabin.  Or if you build a raft that will make it down the Yukon River, loaded with lots of heavy supplies, and can handle a knock into the occasional rock or go through rapids without tipping over or sinking, you've built a skookum raft.  Today, Lutz and Lasse invited me to go skiing with them before school at Skookum Glacier, in Placer Valley at the end of Turnagain Arm.  We left town before 7 AM.  A couple weeks ago, we skied past Skookum Valley on our way to the more distant Spencer Glacier.  The snow in Skookum Valley looked really bumpy then, and the sun hadn't gotten into the valley.  Today, we decided to go back and see what we'd missed.  It hasn't gotten any less bumpy.

 We found that a lot of the snow bridges over the streams had melted out over the past couple weeks, and we needed to do some route-finding to make our way up the valley.  There were a few places we thought about jumping across, but the consequences of a failed jump didn't seem worth it.

At the top of Skookum Valley, we found the wall of ice at the foot of Skookum Glacier.

We obviously got a lot of snow during winter 2012.

We found a way around the ice wall, and were able to ski up onto the glacier.  This is looking up toward the head of the glacier, with Carpathian Peak at the back of the valley.

Looking down the valley from Skookum Glacier.  Lutz has been working on some new dance moves that he's planning to break out this summer on the Furtwangen dance circuit.

There's some nice terrain for skiing on the glacier, as long as you keep your wits about you.

On our way back home, we saw evidence that there's a lot of melting snow in the valley.  Here's some "overflow", where meltwater is flowing over the snow instead of under it.  If you stick a ski pole into the stream there's nothing but slush underneath.  I'm not sure what would happen if you tried to ski across it.  We didn't try.

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