Trip Report: The Legendary Marushka Spines – Tordrillo Mountains, AK

Miles Clark | | Conditions ReportConditions ReportTrip ReportTrip Report
Chris Rasman on Marushka. image: snowbrains

Report from March 20, 2022

On March 20, 2022 I was honored to ski the legendary Marushka spines with Pulseline Adventure.

This is a beast of a mountain in the Tordrillos of Alaska with the most enticing spine lines I’ve seen.

This mountain is featured in Travis Rice’s phenomenal movie “Art of Flight,” the most-watched action sports movie of all time.

Not the vertical, barely-hanging-onto-the-wall fluted spines of Haines.

These spines are the large, lumbering limbs of a mountain reaching out into space for vision and light.

These limbs are featured, delicate, convoluted, and made for adrenal gland snow sliding.

On this noncasual Sunday in March, we’d just finished guiding the main competition day of Travis Rice’s Natural Selection Tour – Alaska.

From my position at the top of the venue, I watched Travis Rice drop into his legendary, winning semi-final run.

I saw him throw a cork 5 then a big 360 and he was gone.

The run scored a 97 out of 100.

Marushka – Tordrillo Mountians, AK Details:

  • Summit: 4,474′
  • Vertical skied:  1,000′
  • Max Pitch:  42º
  • Avg Pitch: 40º
  • Aspect: North
  • Recommended Equipment:  helicopter, skis, guide

When the competition was over, we flew the VIP clients to the top of the venue and ripped the venue ourselves…

The VIPs had at the spines and faces hooting and hollering and being baffled by the ephemeral light.

I dropped last and picked out the only untouched spine I could find and had my mind warped.

Skiing an untouched spine in this zone is a whole other story unto itself…

Once all were down and safe, we headed home for sunset.

I was relaxed, content, and tired in the heli seat as we buzzed past spiney alpenglowed mountains on the right.

I noticed the heli veering right.

We circled the face, drank in it’s amber glow and knotted spines.

Gabe Monroe ripping down Marushka. image: snowbrains

Before I knew it, we were coming in for a landing.

I was delighted.

We landed on the far skier’s right of the mountain – away from the fiercest spines, but within striking distance of some of the playful spines on the right.

I watched as one client after another cut left, picked out a zone or spine and ripped down the 1,000-vertical-foot face.

After the last client arrived safely at the bottom, I noticed that none had hit the spine I’d wanted.


Marushka. image: snowbrains

Gabe let me drop next and I pointed it for the upper spine with no precise plan for the bottom section.

The upper spine was perfect – sharp, soft, glow-lit, and nonconsequential.

I finished it, cut left, and began searching.

I cut further than anyone else and ended up on a spine that forked 3 times. 

I started on a angular spine but quickly left it for a rounded one with no tracks.

The snow was perfect.

Reflections. Marushka. image: snowbrains

Each sent snow exploding from my hips.

I cut hard left again for a vertical fin with an 8′ air near the bottom of the run.

It was tricky and narrow with a flat landing but I couldn’t resist.

I skied up to the crew with eyes wide open, nostrils flaring, and mouth howling.

I’d been staring at this face for over a week.

I never thought I’d actually get to ski it.

Thank you, Alaska.

Miles skiing down a spine on Marushka. image: snowbrains
Marushka, the first time I saw it with a small helicopter at the bottom and an absolute snowboarding legend tearing it up at sunset in early March. image: snowbrains
Winterlake Lodge desert… image: snowbrains

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