Little Alaska (Alaskita) is my favorite line in Bariloche. It’s not too bad of a hike, the views are stunning, and the terrain is intense. Avalanche terrain management is priority number one here. The upper spines are subject to wind loading. The middle convex rollovers are textbook avalanche start zones and the lower chutes would flush you extremely hard if anything came down.
This zone is only to be played with when stability confidence is high.
The wind really hammered the Catedral massif two nights ago – pressing the snow down, scouring some zones, and filling in others. Little Alaska is very prone to wind and wind loading. The last time I was on top of Alaskita I had to back off due to heavily wind loaded spines.
Today, things felt good so I went for it. The spines held good snow on their south sides and crustiness on their northern aspects. The middle convexity was a bit catchy but fun and open. The fingers were off.
This was a bummer because the fingers are the best part of the run. The ice bulges that formed on rocks during the rain storm last weekend were everywhere and the snow in between had been cooked. Alaskita continually turns its face south as you ski down. The spines up top face about 60 degrees East Northeast. The convexity is about 53 degrees East Northeast. The fingers are nearly exactly 45 degrees Northeast. Therefore, as you descend the snow is subject to warmer temperatures and more sun exposure.
After studying how the fingers have filled in and where the ice bulges are, I’m fired up to get back out to Alaskita and slide down those fingers again.
Forecasts are showing a storm dropping a solid refresh tomorrow, then sun for a week. It’s gonna be a good week.
10 thoughts on “Bariloche, Argentina Backcountry Report: The Big Lines of “Alaskita””
Thanks Miles. Very insightful.
Anytime. If you ever have questions, feel free to email us: email@example.com. thanks.
Awesome report! can’t wait to get down there in a couple weeks!!
Thanks Aaron, it’s looking good and our WeatherBrains guy said the long range forecast here is looking crazy… A ver.
Awesome Miles. You are my hero. Great photos.
Hey Miles. Considering there was a skier triggered avalanche 2 days ago, what did you take into consideration when making the go/no go decision to ski Alaskita yesterday? Was it the extra day of bonding? Lack of new wind loading? Results from a compression tests?
There was certainly still some risk out there yesterday. Hiking and skiing over to Alaskita I was able to dig around in many places and do some ski cutting. There was still some instability in the snowpack and I got some small reactions, but they were all very shallow at about 6 inches deep or less. Wind board type of snow. I couldn’t get anything to truly move.
This isn’t a great test, but 3 skiers had already skied the zone and one guy did a pretty big jump. His impact was likely a very good compression test on the upper mountain snowpack.
With all these factors together with the obvious red flags of recent snowfall and recent wind there was still certainly some risk. I know this zone well and this snowpack well which also helped me make the decision to ski. That said, familiarity is one of the biggest killers in avalanche terrain. People who get into trouble in avy terrain generally have very little experience or too much.
Hope this helps a bit. I know these answers always end up vague. All in all, I felt confident because of the testing I’d doe combine with the fact that it had been skied hard. Yet I knew there was still risk. I certainly looked over my shoulder a few times when skiing the convexity.
I ain’t got the spine to ski the Spines on a good day.
So glad you’re adhering to the appropriate precautions.
I had sores like that once, but not on my feet /:
Thank God for County Health.
Remember Brainers, .. take ‘all’ the pills ..
first line in the video is sick!