Jan 27th, 2012 | By rob
The five of us skinned up Alpental valley with the pre-dawn light illuminating the faint backcountry tracks laid down a couple days prior. We remarked how unusual it was to be the first tracks up the valley, especially given the cloudless sky and ample powder. Reaching Bryant Col, we half joked about lapping Wonder Gully for the rest of the day. But Kaleetan lay just around the corner, waiting to be skied
The ski down to Melakwa Lakes was a mixed bag of powder and occasional wind blown crust. Skins on, we moved up the valley and upon reaching the chute up to Kaleetan, Zach and Aubrey opted to continue on the Chair Peak circumnavigation due to time contraints. Trevor, Stefan and I continued up the chute, eventually putting the skis on the pack and booting up the top section. We followed a similar pattern to the top of Kaleetan, skinning up to the top chute, then bootpacking to the summit. We soaked in the vistas and sun, able to see the Sound, and watched a group ski Roosevelt.
Stefan was the first to ski off the top, triggering a small loose slide that cleaned the snow from the center of the chute. Out of the chute, the snow quality improved and it was all smiles as descended two thousand feet into the valley. Discussion ensued on whether to conitue down to Pratt River and loop around to Melakwa, or skin back up to the ridge and ski the chute. We opted to head back up to the ridge and after carefully navigating our way back into the chute, we enjoyed fantastic turns back down to Melakwa, followed a skin track back up to Bryant Col, where the last rays of light dissapeared behind the Olympics. Skiing Wonder Gully in the dark proved to be easier than expected, as only one group skied it prior, and the snow was great.