Alaska's Ruth Gorge
I was lucky enough to score a ski guiding job in Denali National Park's Ruth Gorge the first week of May. The place is simply face-melting in person and goddamn impressive on paper. The gorge is plugged with ice over 3,500 feet deep and a mile wide. The granite walls that define the gorge are 4 to 5 thousand feet tall and straight up. These walls and spires can be seen 100 miles away and have earned names such as: Moose's Tooth, Bear's Tooth, Broken Tooth, and The Gargoyle. It is the deepest gorge in the world and you can feel it.
After the most incredible flight of my life, an hour long flight-see around Mt. McKinley, we landed at the Mountain House. The Mountain House is a hexagon-shaped hut located on a nunatak or rock island in the Ruth Glacier. (The hut has a very cool history http://www.climbalaska.org/mountain-house.html) Our crew consisted of 5 clients and 2 guides and we were there to ski.
During our 6 days in the gorge we only had one weather day and it was kind enough to leave us 18 inches of light, dry, stable Alaskan snow. Needless to say, the skiing was good.
Rule #1 in Alaska: Do not waste good Alaskan weather! Skiing until 9pm in full sunlight wasn't uncommon on this trip. If the weather is good, you go skiing, dammit!
We got 20 runs in during our stay, almost all of which were in pure AK powder. We did our best, but of course, we barely scratched the surface of what can be skied in the enormous Don Sheldon Amphitheater and Ruth Gorge.
My neck is still sore from rubbernecking to take in the insanity that is reality in the Alaska's fairly-tale-come-true called the Ruth Gorge.