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Thursday, February 11, 2010

Places Where I like to Go Downhill Skiing

It's raining again. Consequently, I've been dreaming and thinking about winters past. In the Spirit of the Kodiak roadsystem trails plan I came up with the following map (I plan on sending it to the people who are helping the Borough develop the plan) - It's where I've downhill skiied over the last 10 years near Kodiak. Not that I've been going all that far afield of late. I also noticed there's a hole between Lake Miam and the Saltery Cove area. I guess this Spring I'll have to get out there and go skiing! Patrick

Places to Downhill Ski on the Kodiak Roadsystem

Map Key:
Blue = General areas
Red = runs
Yellow = Tours
Black = Locally named peaks (by skiers)
Light Blue dots = access points on roads

General Areas

To access this area one parks at the Salonie Creek rifle range and hikes on up the valley to the area. It is about a 2-hour approach. The bowl on the Salonie Creek side is VERY steep and has some great runs.

To access Barometer one usually parks on the road near the end of the airport runway and hikes up the first part of Burma Road. It usually takes about an hour to get to the top of the mountain. I do not like to ski this mountain until May because the climb up is VERY exposed and scary until the snow melts a bit. The bowl facing the golf course and Buskin Lake has some very good runs – and one can hike home via the base of the main face at about the 1500 level. Also the ‘Second Peak’ of Barometer also has 3 VERY steep runs – I like to finish with a run towards Burma Road and then contour back along the south face on the bench at 1500 feet to meet back up with the trail to the car.

Center Mountain
It is about a 4 or 5-hour hike to the summit of Center from the end of the Russian River Road in Bell’s Flats. It is about a 40 minute longer hike from the Kashevaroff Mountain trailhead on the Chiniak highway. This is probably the best, easily accessible summer skiing on the Kodiak roadsystem and in the summer people often use a helicopter to reach the summit. The ski home via the Kashevaroff Ridge is pretty flat but there are a few nice runs down towards the Russian River drainage.

Crown Mountain
This area is usually accessed by helicopter and has GREAT summer snow. There is somewhat of a tradition to go heliski camping on the mountain over the 4rth of July. The mountain has numerous VERY steep runs, many of which are over 2000 feet long. The area is characterized by white granite cliffs and is quite a spectacular place to visit. It is a long day trip to ski from the mountain back to town (see Crown to Town tour below).

Devil’s Prongs
The Devil’s Prongs is usually accessed from the road from one of three parking areas along the road to White Sands beach. Many of the best runs face north and are only good in May when the late evening sun warms them up. This area is also close to the ocean and often does not have good snow cover. A good tour is to start at Monashka Bay and end up at the Pyramid parking lot via Easter Sunday Peak and Bear Mountain. The ridge closer to Pilar Mountain has some steep slopes that face south and west that are very steep and are best in April if we have a good snow pack.

Elbow Mountain
Generally only accessed via helicopter and is best in May/June. There are quite a few steep and long runs in this general area. To go home one crosses the land bridge (where the Terror Lake Power line crosses) and treks to a car parked at Sargent Creek.

Fourth of July
This area is generally accessed by Helicopter and is best in late May. The helicopter usually lands on either the top of Old 3300 or 4rth of July peak. Generally skiers spend the day doing runs and then it is about a 2 or 3-hour tour from base of 4rth of July peak back to the car at Sargent Peak. The snow machine trail also goes through this area and the area is heavily used by snowmobiles until late May. This area is characterized by a variety of terrain from very steep long runs to rolling beginner slopes.

Heitman and Raymond peaks are a good place to go in late spring (April) for a quick day trip. There are some nice runs off the top that aren’t too steep, but offer great views out over the ocean. You feel like you are skiing right above the water it is so close. I often ski from the Heitman pull out and finish my tour over at the Kalsin Bay side. It is quite easy to catch a ride back to the car at the Heitman pullout. A deep canyon and very steep slopes separate this area from 2722 and I do not recommend crossing over.

Kalsin Range
This is a great place for spring tours – and the snow is generally good through June. It only takes about an hour to get to the top of ‘Sweet Peak’ from the road and there are 4 excellent runs off of the summit. To ski ‘Sweet Peak’ it is best to park at the top of the Kalsin Bay Hill before the descent to where the Inn is located. For tours deep into the Kalsin Range it is best to park by Deadman’s Creek just past the Kalsin Bay Inn.

Kashevaroff does not have any serious steeps but it sure is convenient if you live in Bell’s Flats. It also generally holds snow well into June.

Landing Zone
In the late 1990’s this was the first place where people went heliskiing on the Kodiak Roadsystem– hence the name ‘Landing Zone’. However, it is only a two hour hike up to the top of ‘Double Surprise’ from a car parked at Sargent Creek and today if people use a helicopter they usually go a bit further from town to get more ‘bang for their buck’. This area holds snow well and the ‘Half Pipe’, ‘Double Surprise’ and ‘Sweet Pea’ runs are usually good well into July. There is also a gulley that runs back towards Sargent Creek that holds snow well, and you can usually ski back to the small lakes at 1400 feet into June. The snow machine trail from the ski chalet to Crown Mtn also goes though this area and the area is heavily used by snowmobiles until mid to late May.

Marin Range
Since it is such a long drive from town I have not down much skiing in the Marin Range. But it looks like it has some GREAT topography. It is the only area on the immediate roadsystem with granite peaks and that makes for some awesome cliffs. The cut up and jagged topography also makes it difficult to tour along the ridge tops. This area is best accessed from Pasagshak Pass, the road out near the rocket launch (by the cattle guard), or from some of the old logging roads on the Chiniak side. The west-facing slope of Slope Peak looks particularly nice and is one of the few places on the Kodiak roadsystem where you can ski trees.

Pasagshak Pass
The mountain immediately to the west of the pass to Pasagshak has a nice steep run that is almost 1300 feet vertical. And it only takes an hour or so to get to the top. On the east side of the pass is an easily accessed ridge that leads directly into the Marin Range. A good tour is to start here and ski to the sea via the Sacramento Valley – this is best to do in March or early April when the snow extends far down valley close to the sea.

Pyramid is the most convenient and easily access skiing to be had if you live in town. It is a 25-minute drive to the ski chalet parking lot, and I routinely leave work and am back at home within 2 hours after getting in a 1500 foot run on Pyramid. Pyramid is blessed with a surprising variety of terrain and slope aspects. It often has seams of good powder or warmed corn snow slopes when everywhere else is blown ice or crud. It also generally holds snow through June. Sometimes, if I have some time, I like to ski down the north side, cross the valley and ski Nipple Peak.

Reservoir Ridge
Reservoir Ridge is accessed from the white sands parking lot at the end of the Monashka Bay road. The first part of the trail follows a 17b easement. This is one of the few areas where you can ski trees on the Kodiak Roadsystem. I often ski here after a powder dump associated with high winds. The high winds will have blown the snow off of the high exposed peaks but the trees in this area can be loaded up and quite exciting. However, most of the tree runs are not very long or steep. The ‘Reservoir dogs’ run down to the reservoir is REALLY steep and exciting, and a good way to go home because the trail up is not a good way to ski down.

Sheratin at almost 3000 feet is the closest ‘big mountain’ to the road on the Kodiak roadsystem. Access is best from the parking lot just past the bridge over Red Cloud Creek on the road to Anton Larsen Bay, and it takes 2 hours or so to get to the top. It is a HUGE mountain and there is a huge variety of terrain. You could ski this mountain for a week and not get bored. The bowl on the west side holds good snow into July and I have skied the runs on the west side down towards Sheratin Bay in August and September.


Crown to Town
This is a long day tour from Crown Mountain to town. On the way between Crown Mountain and the Kashevaroff ridge there are 3 ridges - CC1, CC2, and CC3 (CC stands for Center to Crown), and the each has a gentle up and down slope. The climbs are each about 1500 feet. The route is still almost completely covered with snow in early July and one can usually ski to within 2 hours of the car parked at the end of Russian River Road in early July.

Pyramid - Easter Sunday
This is a nice 5 or 6 hour tour. If you leave from Pyramid parking lot and ski to Easter Sunday via Bear Mtn, drop into the Easter Sunday Bowl that faces the antenna field and then return to Pyramid is 6 runs with a total of 5000 vertical feet. It really is a nice afternoon tour in late April or early May.

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