Above: Mt. Diamond backdrops Eli Sturm as he skies down a couloir in Thompson Pass, where the scenery and snow are world class.
The 2,805 foot Thompson Pass pass is outside the coastal town of Valdez, and averages more than 550 inches of snow per year. Skiers and snowboarders travel from all over the world to make turns in Thompson. Copious runs are accessible right off the road, while endless mountains provide the potential for extended excursions.
My friend Eli and myself made the six hour drive south from Fairbanks last Saturday for two very full days of riding. We mostly used climbing skins — directional skins you attach to the bottom of your skies to ascend mountains.
On the first day we skinned about 4.5 hours, climbing roughly 4,000 feet, to the top of a couloir, a steep narrow gully on a mountain. The result was some of the best and most scenic riding of my life.
Descending towards Diamond Glacier in Thompson Pass with spectacular snow.
A skier traverses towards shade on the Diamond Glacier in Thompson Pass.
Some time ago I realized I live in one of the most stunning landscapes on the planet, yet fail to truly experience it. I call it the backyard syndrome: it’s so close you rarely walk through it. Not to say Alaska isn’t enormous, harsh and challenging. So more and more I have been taking to the trail.
A few weeks ago four people from the Alaska Alpine Club attempted to summit White Princess — a nearly 10,000 foot peak in the eastern Alaska Range.
The 9 mile approach up the Caster Glacier took all day, but bluebird skies always make great skiing. Unfortunately, bluebird skies didn’t stick around, and near-whiteout conditions high on the mountain nullified Sunday’s summit push. Absolutely no complaints though.
The photos are mostly 35mm film with two iPhone frames.
Approaching an ice cave on the Caster Glacier, even simple Alaska scenery’s stunning.
Inside the ice cave a person’s presence is easily overcome by time, textures and colors.
Ski tracks say where you’ve been, and can be extremely satisfying to look at.
The only view we got of White Princess — the peak in the upper-right quadrant — was rolling into base camp around 9 p.m. Dark and cold quickly followed.
A large rock wall dwarfs skiers and illustrates the scale of Alaska’s environment.
Group shot before leaving base camp.
About the only blue sky seen on Sunday. Snow blowing off the ridge is a good indicator of the strong winds.
Dreamy is the current Weekly Photo Challenge. To me, dreamy conjures feelings of contrast. Dreams are often simultaneously crisp and cloudy. Things that don’t make sense feel true. Entire dreams can be vague narratives shrouded in mist, except for one hyperreal detail — perhaps a pair of eyes.
In these photographs a shallow depth of field helps create a dreamy and uncertain aesthetic.
Above: A small stream snakes through vibrant green moss on Mt. Rainier in Washington state. The picture reminds me how alive and diverse the mountain is, from the thunderous cracks and groans of enormous glaciers to the smallest bubbling stream sustaining a secluded ecosystem. The picture is a rough scan of color positive film, shot on Hasselblad.
Above: Sun shines on a granite tor of Angle Rocks and trees in golden fall colors, to the right the Chena River snakes through a valley cast in shadows. September 11, 2014.
Angle Rocks is almost assuredly the most popular hiking spot near Fairbanks. It’s a 3.5-mile loop in the Chena River State Recreation Area, about 45 miles from Fairbanks, that takes trekkers through and around a variety of tors formed from granite.
The tors were formed hundreds of millions of years ago when magma bubbled up from the Earth’s mantel, but failed break through the ground. They then slowly become revealed as erosion striped the surrounding land, exposing the giant rocks.
I hiked Angle Rocks twice this summer, once in spring and once in fall. Both seasons provided fantastic and vibrant colors. The cool and calm spring greens and the energetic and exciting gold of fall.
Hikers climb and play on one of the many formations at Angle Rocks. May 17, 2014.
Colorful patterns created by shadows, leafs and rocks result in a busy but fascinating scene.
Trek 45 minutes past the main rock attractions to get a panoramic view all the way to the Alaska Range, hundreds of miles south.
Stretching silhouette at Angel Rocks.
Angle Creek trail winds though green spring trees in the valley opposing Angle Rocks. Specks of people can be seen in the lower-right rock formations.
My annual summer hiatus from blogging is nearing an end. Though with the record-setting rain Fairbanks had this summer, as reported by the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner, I easily could have found more time for blogging. Thanks to all those who continued to visit.
Animal Eyes is a Portland-based band comprised entirely of members from Alaska, who all met in Portland. It’s a small world. They rocked hard and long, during this June 31 concert at local dive bar The Marlin.
Animal Eyes performs at The Marlin on June 31, 2014.
Lights strung around The Marlin during an Animal Eyes concert.
Final installment of Amsterdam street photography. As with the previous two posts canals and bicycles are prominent. Never have I seen the possibilities of street photography as in Amsterdam, The few I’ve shared don’t scratch the surface.
Amsterdam is a young town, with a energy and openness like none other.
Being from a small town I underestimate how fast scenes in cities evolve, many times I should have been using a faster shutter speed.
Bike sharing is incredibly.
Evening boat rides around canals are incredibly popular.