Monday, April 23, 2012

5 Thoughts on Alaska and Alaska Video

So, I finally finished my Alaska Ski Video (embedded below), and I wanted to give a few final thoughts on Alaska.

Thought 1: This place rules. For somebody who loves adventure, this place is as good as it gets. Just the stuff I turned down or didn't have the money for (ski tour down a frozen creek to a remote ice climbing destination, heli drop at a remote backcountry yurt for week of touring) would be incredible. Me living in Alaska would be like a gambling addict living in Las Vegas.  I'd have an amazing time, but I'd almost definitely get myself into trouble.  Which leads me to . . .

Thought 2: I need more training. I definitely need more knowledge - snow safety, wilderness first aid, mountaineering, etc.  I didn't feel grossly unprepared, but I definitely wasn't the most educated person there. In fact, my complete ignorance of avalanche knowledge was kind of embarrassing.  I might take the PSIA Backcountry Accreditation next year, which would put me in a good place to take a AIARE Level 2 Course the following year. That, combined with a lot more backcountry trips and maybe a few ice climbing adventures will make me a lot more comfortable when I get into winter shenanigans.

Thought 3: I did it all wrong. If I was trying to have a pure ski vacation, I screwed up royally.  I really only got one resort day at Alyeska and 5 backcountry ski days. I guess 6 "skiing" days in a 10 day vacation is pretty good, but a lot of those touring days consisted of a long hike up, followed by 1 run down.  A couple of times, I'd hike halfway up again and get another run out of it, but it was definitely more of a "hike" day than a "ski" day.  Next time, it's going to be more like this guy:

Pickup truck. Camper on pickup truck. Ski rack on camper on pickup truck. Trailer on pickup truck. 2 Snowmobiles in trailer.  Not a bad way to access all of that powder in the background. Of course, having a snowmobile (or 2) would really have been no good for me because . . . 

Thought 4: Travelling alone sucks. I was visiting a college friend that was only available for adventures on the weekends (which were awesome). The problem was, she works all week, and I had to find my own adventures Monday - Friday (which is a lot more difficult by myself).  At the resort, skiing by yourself is never really the best time, and in the backcountry, skiing by yourself is never really the best idea. So, I ended up having to ski in a lot of heavily trafficked snowmobile skiing areas, when I would have much rather been out in the middle of nowhere. And not to sound vain, but it's nice to get pictures and videos of yourself shot by a buddy (like that Tug Hill Trip). I'm not really satisfied with the below video for this reason (too much first person GoPro-ing without another person in the frame).

Thought 5: I'm not sure if I'd want to live here. The mountains and adventure opportunities are fantastic. The skiing is great. The mountain biking is supposed to be phenomenal (how could it not be?). I could seriously have an amazing adventure every weekend and, for at least 6 months of the year, every day after work. The problem is, I think I caught it at the best time. Right now, Alaska is going through "breakup", a season of flooding, ice jams, mud, grime, and unfrozen dog shit. In the summer, the entire state is apparently overrun with mosquitoes (35 different kinds?). And after summer, it starts getting real dark, real quick.  In December, Anchorage only gets around 5.5 hours of daylight (and it isn't really "daylight" as it's supposedly pretty dreary). I found out that Alaska has a pretty transient population - people who are there for a couple of years and then move somewhere else. I could see doing that. It seems like just the kind of place that would be the perfect "change of scenery." 

So, I'm not moving to Alaska just yet. I need to go back for a more pure skiing vacation to make a final decision. Anyone want to come with? If you need a little more convincing, here's the video:


  1. It's a great video. You going back next year or checking something else of the bucket list? You are a true adventurer in my book MC. Not afraid to succeed or fail. Rock on!

  2. Nice Vid. I'd definitely like to do a trip in the future...I'm not that great of skier anymore but I might be able to keep up

  3. Nicely done. I love the choice of music and the ever-present S.E. Grin.

  4. I think I've said it 5 times now...
    I'm in!

  5. I love Alaska. I have been there three time and every time I get there it is all wonderful. amazing!

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  6. Pick me! I'll start training now.. starting with learning to tele.