Our New Year’s weekend trip to Alyeska this year, was a completely different experience than in 2015-2016. For one thing, there was snow instead of rain at the base (awesome). Plus the temperatures were downright chilly!
To gain a little warmth, it was best to head to the top, out of the shadows and above the clouds. So up the tram, and Glacier Bowl Express we went!
I’ve mentioned before that during the winter where we are in Alaska, the sun doesn’t really “rise” per-se. It peeks above the mountains, and crawls lazily along the horizon. This leads to a couple of phenomenon. First, in a place like Girdwood, not a lot of sun hits the valley floor or slopes of Alyeska in the first place.
Throw in an inversion, with moist ocean air from the Turnagain Arm, and the base clouds over in a mist of cool, dense fog. It waxes and wanes throughout the day, sometimes making it cold and dark.
On the positive side, sunlight shining at that low angle creates amazing alpenglow with shadows that light up the mountain tops. If you can get above the clouds the view is spectacular. Not to mention, 20-30 degrees warmer.
Above the Clouds
After spending a couple of days skiing, on New Years Day Sunday; we decided to just ride the tram up and watch the “sunset”. We grabbed a cup of hot chocolate (and I do mean hot, be careful) from the newly renovated Bore Tide Deli up top; then wandered from viewpoint to viewpoint, absorbing sunlight, warmth and vistas.
It’s so hard to capture what landscapes really look like up there. In part, it’s because of the massive size of Alaska and her mountain ranges. Secondly, even shooting in Raw (which is new to me and brings it’s own set of headaches), photos still can’t quite contain the color, scope and grandeur of what we saw.
Shades of pink, orange, yellow, purple and blue danced across the high slopes until finally, the sun dipped below the horizon giving way to the moon. And as lights on the mountain came on for night-skiing, it was time to head down, richer for the experience.
There are many quotes about mountains and clouds. They are after all, symbolic of our struggles and accomplishments in life. Being a huge Edward Abbey fan, here’s one of my favorites:
“May your mountains rise into, and above the clouds.”
Well said…I’ll take a few struggles in life for the magnificent views at the top of the peaks.