I am lucky to have two awesome brothers. Even more lucky that one of them is into rock climbing and the other skiing. I feel that spending quality time outdoors with siblings is its own special kind of thing. I mean for me, skiing with my younger brother for years has pushed me to be a better skier. When your 16 year old brother takes off down some crazy run and you were told by your mom "sure you guys go have fun, just make sure he stays safe!" I have no choice but to suck it up and follow. That was years ago.
Now that he has moved away for college, we still try to make it out for a sibling outing at least once while he is home for the holidays. Last year, that didn't happen since I could barely walk due to my ACL rupture.... This year, we decided to go a more economical route: into the backcountry.
We didn't plan things the best. We had a few hours of daylight for our outing. I decided that the Little O Malley Gully would be a great short trip with a relatively stable snowpack. My brother is new to backcountry skiing and was using an alpine set up. So this was a perfect route: a standard hiking route with snow on the side for the descent.
We rolled up to the parking lot and strapped his skis onto a pack. I laughed a little since the first part of the trail was going to be way easier for me with my skins and A/T set up than for him. Payback for that one time I followed him down mougles. It was chilly in town; in the single digits. We were pleased to find a significant inversion at the trailhead. It was a pleasant mid-20s sort of afternoon. We set off down the trail.
My brother kept up surprisingly well and was a great sport about all the boot packing. As we reached the gully, my skins started sliding and I too switched over to boot packing. We struggled up the gully, going between slick dirt ridden ice and randomly sinking to mid-hip. As we approached the top, the sun began sinking over the mountain ridge and the temperatures began to drop.
We reached the top and were greeted by the typical fantastic Chugach views. Anchorage was shrouded in fog below. It made the whole experience feel more remote than usual. I switched my skis over for the descent.
The lighting was perfect. I was able to get some downright epic photos of my brother skiing down. The snow at the top was quite pleasant before we were forced back onto the trail. The trail proved to be too steep and narrow to navigate effectively without a high risk of potential damage to ourselves or our skis. We took the skis off and boot packed it down until the grade of the trail decreased.
Near the bottom, we were able to click in and ski the rest of the way to the bottom, down snowy boardwalks and across a bridge. We made it back to the car as the sun was setting. Hopefully, my brother will move back up here some day and become a regular backcountry partner for me.