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Big in the backcountry

Posted: April 20, 2012 - 12:01am
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A skier carves a turn through the couloir (a.k.a the Jumbo Chute) that runs down the face of Mount Jumbo on Douglas Island last week. Warmer temperatures are helping most Southeast Alaskans think of spring, but great snow remains to be found in the backcountry for those willing to work for it.   Photo courtesy of William Still III
Photo courtesy of William Still III
A skier carves a turn through the couloir (a.k.a the Jumbo Chute) that runs down the face of Mount Jumbo on Douglas Island last week. Warmer temperatures are helping most Southeast Alaskans think of spring, but great snow remains to be found in the backcountry for those willing to work for it.

Spring may have arrived on the shores of Southeast Alaska, but high in the alpine snow still calls to skiing enthusiasts like William (Corky) Still who visited Juneau from Anchorage last week.

Still said he’s skied all over North America, but the terrain and scenery of Juneau’s local mountains is breathtaking and, of course, challenging.

Still and others hit some of the popular backcountry spots: the chute on Mount Jumbo, Showboat, false Troy, to name a few.

Ron Simenhois, a local avalanche forecaster, said that spring corn snow can make for an enjoyable ride, but he warned that snow that has become too wet can make certain slopes prone to avalanches. Areas like these, he said, should be avoided.

Sean Janes, owner of Alaska Powder Descents, said there are certainly still areas where locals can find quality turns.

“We’ve been finding great snow on some of the glaciers where there’s areas of ice that keep the temps cool,” he said. “(But down low) conditions can be quite variable.”

Simenhois said timing is everything and that it pays to be prepared and cautious before carving those turns this spring.

Janes said, he expects to have good skiing through the middle of June.

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