Big walls, narrow couloirs, steep spines; this is the terrain that draws skiers from all over the continent (and beyond) to Alaska. Fortunately for the locals, we can easily access these ski movie-quality lines whenever we want. Walk a few hundred feet past the perpetually tracked out Common Bowl on Tincan and you're on top of some big spine lines, the start of one of the most impressive zones in Turnagain Pass: The Library.
GW had some buddies in town and we wanted to give them a real Alaskan experience. So, with clear skies, cold temps, and calm winds, we donned our skins and set off on the easy 3 mile approach to the heart of the Library.
I was up on Sunburst the day before and saw this grand southwest-facing wall deep in the Library, so I proposed we have a look. With a crew of 5, it was big enough to accommodate everyone without leaving the last skier with a sluffed-out, firm bed surface-y run. A choice spine line just looker's left of our wall had been skied, so we were able to partially mooch an established skin track and bootpack for a bit before heading up our own route to the ridge.
Booting up a previously skied line was great since it had been sluffed out, leaving chalky snow that was perfect for kicking steps into. The 1,500' ascent went quickly and soon enough we were standing on the upper ridge, a short walk to the top of our line. The mega spines of the Eddie's South zone dominated the immediate horizon and the upper reaches of Wolverine, the biggest of them all, poked up just beyond.
Up top we were treated to a panorama of dream lines. Memories of skiing Pastoral's north face early season, sunny mid-winter powder days on Sunburst, and the epic day on Wolverine in February mixed with dreams of skiing Eddie's spines, Kickstep's imposing southwest face, and the mega spines on Tincan Peak that may or may not actually go. Photos were taken, high-fives were given.
After a leisurely transition, we made a plan and distributed radios. GW posted up on a sub-ridge above a dreamy powder line that funneled into the gut and kept eyes on me as I dropped in from the top, over the rollover, sending a speedy torrent of sluff down the face. The snow was deep and soft and the light was brilliant as I turned my way down the steep upper face, working my way towards a big safe spot near where we'd need to exit to the couloir.
I snapped photos as the boys made big, fast turns down the sunny, sluffy first pitch. GW skied his line down to a spine below us and watched his buddies ski the line like pros.
After navigating the pinch, avoiding the fast-moving sluff, the line gradually opened up to the broad apron and everyone made wide, celebratory turns to the sounds of cheering from the others below. Four of us at the bottom, we helped GW get into a sneaky couloir that put him into the apron and watched as he sped his way down to us. Seeing him as a tiny dot on a huge face gave a sense of scale we lacked when initially scouting the line earlier in the day. Exhilarated, we gave big high-fives as each person gave their review of the line.
Skiing out in the afternoon sun, our necks craned as we scoped other lines, both skied and unskied, in the massive Library zone. Kickstep's hulking south face shone gloriously, growing bigger and bigger the farther we skied from it. Ascending the short pitch up to Center Ridge, the full panorama of the Library came into view and once again we stopped for photos and smiles.
An hour later, back at the trucks, we toasted our chosen beers to the day and began discussion of what tomorrow would bring. Stay posted to see what we opted for!