Black Rapids

With the heli season on Thompson Pass winding down, people began to filter away.  Michelle and I had one more day in the Chugach before packing up and heading to the eastern region of the Alaska Range.  We grabbed Brenton and went out for one more tour.  There was weather moving through, but nothing major so we decided on a peak called RFS (Real F&?ing Steep, we think that is what it stands for).  There were clouds just above us pretty much the whole way up, but luckily they gained elevation as we did.  Once we were about 500ft from the top everything broke wide open to blue bird and we could see the summit of RFS, as well as Diamond Peak across the way.  The view of the Chugach from the summit was wide open and quite impressive.  The 5,000ft ski back down to the car was not too shabby either.  Off of the summit we skied straight at Diamond Peak and the Staircase for a bit, then wrapped around to a more northwesterly aspect which provided some pretty awesome soft snow for a few thousand feet before turning to corn and then eventually isothermic.   We spent the evening hangin around the Alaska Rendezvous Lodge for one more evening.  Jess and Brenton had a nice bottle of champagne, and they were waiting for a special occasion to open and celebrate their engagement.  They popped it and shared their engagement celebration with ours, pretty cool.  Thank you Jess and Brenton……What a way to end our amazing time at Thompson Pass!

The next morning we packed up the car, said our thank you’s and good bye’s, and hit the road to the Lodge at Black Rapids.  Located on mile 227 of the Richardson Highway, the lodge sits along the Delta River Valley in the eastern region of the Alaska Range.  Michelle and I have been researching this region for quite some time and have been in contact with the owners of the lodge, Michael & Annie.  Michael, one of the foremost explorers of this region, was out with some friends touring and skiing when we arrived on Sunday.  He left a note for us saying, “Michelle & Mike, make your selves at home and go-a-head and move your stuff into the second floor room on the SE corner of the lodge,” so that is just what we did. When we arrived we were in awe of this place.    It was nice and sunny out so once we settled in, a game of cribbage and a few beers on the front deck seemed in order.  Michael arrived back to the lodge around 6:30 with good news on the snowpack and conditions.  He showed us pictures and videos of some terrain he thought we’d like to explore.  Michael made us a delicious meal while we looked over maps and brainstormed a game plan.

 

Michael told us a little about the lodge; what a place by the way! Michael spent about 9 years building the lodge at the sight of the historic Black Rapids Roadhouse.  The new lodge, running since 2009, features tall ceilings with timber wood beams and a beautiful stone fireplace in the center.  Michael said this lodge was built with the intention of being a winter lodge to base ski trips from…..perfect.   Since our arrival, we have been spoiled with amazing meals, incredible hospitality, while staying in one of the most beautiful lodges I’ve seen.

Michelle and I spent yesterday getting our gear back in order and packing to head out into the backcountry for the week.  There is a decent amount of weather moving through and the forecast is not looking stellar, so we are planning to head out today when/if we get a break in the weather and just see what we can make of it.  This region is quite minimally traveled and for the most part un-skied, due to its remoteness and being a bit over shadowed by Alaska’s vast wilderness options.  Our plan is to be out until Saturday, but again this is very dependent on the weather.  As always, I will check back in with updates as soon as I can.

Mikey & Michelle


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  • About Teton FreeRide

    Teton FreeRide is a content based blog founded and operated by Mike "Mikey" Leake. Mikey has lived in the Teton Valley region of southeastern Idaho and western Wyoming most of my life. He has also had the opportunity to live and play in the Lake Tahoe area, and now, Alaska too!

    After competing on the Freeskiing World Tour on-and-off for 10 years Mikey has transitioned to judging various events and become an advisory board member with the International Freeskiers & Snowboarders Association (IFSA). Over the past 13 years he has worked in the ski industry through skiing as an athlete, coach, guide, ski patrol, event coordinator, event judge, marketing consultant, team manager, videographer, and as an associate producer. Mikey has a true passion for the outdoor industry and tries to be involved in every aspect possible.