A Climb and Ski of the Tusk, Chugach AK
In 2013, Ryan Murray and I climbed and skied the Tusk, one of a handful of the biggest ski lines in the Chugach known as the "Big 5." Freeskier magazine wrote an article about these trophy lines but, unfortunately, the photo links are currently broken. Here is a link to the archived article.
That year the Chugach had experienced a particularly vicious wind event and most of the skiing was in rough condition. We had been puttering around Valdez, wondering what we could do. One day we tried to ride our sleds into the Valley of the Tusk - it turned out to be pretty easy and the snow in the valley was really great powder. We hatched a plan to return the next day to climb and ski the Tusk.
As it goes, the next day our ride in was not so easy. Both Ryan and I rolled our sleds and crashed them into brush; it was not going smoothly. To make matters worse, clouds were supposed to arrive that day and were threatening flat light conditions - not ideal for skiing a very steep mountain face.
We continued on our sleds to the base and climbed up the north face. The lower slopes were protected from the wind, but higher on the 60 degree face the snow was wind hammered crust, breakable in places and firm in others. We continued up the face until below the rocky tooth of a summit. There, the terrain is very steep (>60 degrees) and there was just a dusting of snow over the rocks underneath. The final 100 ft were not going to be skiable on that day. We made the call to rappel back to where we could put our skis on and ski the thing.
To make our descent even more exciting, the clouds did arrive and made for poor visibility. We did ski the Tusk, and it was awesome, but it was not the sunset-pow-endorphin rush we had on Pontoon.