Dan Moller Cabin, Juneau Alaska
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999 Days Around Africa: The Road Chose Me
My buddy Kenny and I are both keen back country skiers (technically, I’m a snowboarder, though with my split board I get into the back country often) and we’ve been dreaming of a trip to the Dan Moller cabin in Juneau Alaska for a long time.
We drive down to Skagway and hop the ferry South to Juneau on a beautiful sunny day. It’s late evening when we arrive and we’re too cheap to pay for a hotel, so we come up with a crazy idea. After loading up on beer and food we gear up in the extremely icy parking lot and start with headlamps on for the 3 mile uphill hike into the cabin. I’m on my big split board towing a heavy toboggan, while Kenny is on skis with a BIG backpack. The early stages of the hike are spectacular as we catch glimpses of the lights of downtown Juneau through the thick coastal trees. Soon enough we cross the freezing line and we’re in deep, fresh snow, slogging uphill.
At times the trail is so steep I start sliding backwards, pulled by the toboggan. It takes every ounce of strength I have to heave it forward before I can shuffle myself a few more feet and repeat the process. We’re both drenched in sweat as we break off the main trail and plunge into waist deep snow for the final hundred meters of uphill to the cabin. After multiple trips back and forth we’re jubilant as we open the door and step into our home for the next 4 days and nights.
The cabin has recently been rebuilt and is extremely clean and well kept, complete with oil stove (which we happily turn on) and cupboards with beer (which we happily replenish with the ones we hiked in). A few beers and a big meal on our camp stoves has us toasty warm and snoring logs in no time.
After breakfast we gear up and head out of the cabin for day one of skiing. Less than ten minutes from the cabin we’re standing at the bottom of a dream-come-true back country paradise bowl. We’re surrounded on three sides, and we have our pick of steep or not, treed or not and cliffs or not. We have this paradise to ourselves, and it’s been dumping snow for days with no sign of letting up.
We start out on mellow, simple terrain and gradually increase the steepness and length of our runs while we get the hang of the snow and avalanche conditions. Once we’ve set down a good “up track” we make great time and get in many, many laps for the day. Highlights are dropping off small rocks and then sinking so deep in the powder it’s impossible to see for the next ten seconds of skiing.
We’ve booked the cabin, meaning we have it all to ourselves overnight, but it’s still a public-use cabin during the day. This turns out to be fantastic as friendly snowmobilers come in to say hello and warm up by the stove. Alaskans are a friendly bunch, so we happily chit-chat about all things North while the snow continues to fall outside.
We keep this up for three straight days, until the weather breaks and the sun comes out. On the last day it warms significantly and we start to get some snow sliding around. On our final run we trigger a couple of class 1 – 1.5 avalanches and we’re both extremely happy to make it back to the cabin safely and call it a day.
We post up at a hotel in Juneau and ski at Eaglecrest Ski Resort for three more days. It’s been snowing non-stop for five days now, so knee deep snow is easy to find and we laugh whenever we bite off more than we can chew and cartwheel.
An unforgettable nine days in Juneau, Alaksa. Did I mention lately I miss snowboarding