Sacajawea CrushFest

Sacajawea Peak, Bridger Range                            May 11/12, 2014

It’s not what I wanted.  I didn’t even want to go ski in the Bridgers.  That’s what I told
Matt.  I wanted to go anywhere else.  I love the Bridgers but spend a lot of time in them
each year.  But Matt suggested trying for the SouthEast Face of Sacajawea a line neither
of us had skied and there would be snowmobile assist.  Might as well.
Matt and Ben, Sacajawea Bowl earlyish
I woke to Matt calling and asking which street my house was on.  Oops, I over slept.
I tried to stall and talk extra slow to buy time.  Those extra seconds would help.  So
4:30am became our departure instead of 4.  Matt and Ben didn’t seem to mind.  The forecast
was for partly cloudy and there was freshies to be had.  I just hoped that extra half hour
would not bite us on the ass later in the day.
I think it’s going to clear!  Yeah right.
The mountains were socked in on our approach.
The clouds were not clearing when we reached the top.  We took our time gearing up but no
change.  So we decided to ski the East ridge because it has some trees lower down.  It was
slow going on the top section.  Lots of falling leaf action on thin snow cover and difficult route
finding in the whiteout.  Soon we hit tree line and found great pow to ski.
Then there was a rock section to negotiate.  Matt and I found one easy way through.  Ben not
so much.  We stopped below the the rock section and tried to give directions to the way we
took.  Ben ended up going down some tight rock chute.  We could talk to him and hear his
skis scraping on rocks but were not able to see what he was dealing with.  From the sounds
his skis were making I half expected him to come tumbling out of the mist.  Ben survived and
was rewarded with first tracks the rest of the way down.
Almost on top of Sacajawea for round 2.
On top for the second time still no vis.  So we decided to ski the skintrack.  Our plan was to
keep skiing off Sac peak until the sun popped out, then ski some more.  Sure enough a
pocket of sunshine came in right after our second run.  Things were looking up for good vis
on our next run.
The snow was skiing great and would be fantastic if you could see it.
At the start of the next skin up Ben’s Plum toe piece exploded.  As Ben worked on
MacGyvering his binding, Matt and I headed up for what would be our last
chance to hit a pocket of sunshine today.
Looking down the SouthEast Face of Sacajawea.  Visibility not acceptable yet.
I really wanted to ski the S.E. face and Matt did too.  Just not in flat light.  We both agreed that
it would not be skied unless there was good light top to bottom.  Then Matt asked “How
should we ski it?”  My response, “Fast and aggressive!”  I was only half joking.
But he brought up a good point.  The window of good light may be very short and not long
enough for both of us if we waited for the other to ski the entire run before the next.  So we
came up with a plan to have Matt go first down and I would follow once he started
moving right of fall line.  Then he we would regroup before the pinch and proceed to send it.
Wowsers! That was wow.
After a half hour of standing and hoping for a glory hole we got one.  We skied the top as
noted.  Matt went through the pinch first and let out a huge holler of enjoyment.  Oh shit,
this is gonna be good.  I gave him a little time then dropped in.  Excitement got the best
of me.  I decided to straight line through the pinch and for a few hundred feet after.  Upon
reaching mach schnell it was time to start reeling things back in.  Oops, easier said than
done.  Frozen avi debris boulders littered the lower mountain and at points I was just
barley holding on dodging the big ones.  As the glory hole closed in Matt and I stood at
the bottom of the bowl dangerously close to becoming over stoked.
Matt spraying 
Off we went to meet up with Ben at the sled.  But might as well ski a run on the way back.
Matt showed me a cool little line in the Lake Chutes to finish off the day.  The forecast for
tomorrow said bluebird so we set alarms for dawn patrol.
Day 2
Out the door a little after 3am had us driving up Bridger canyon in a snow storm.  We
welcomed the fresh snow but hoped it would clear when we got on top.
Summit of Sacajawea peak.
It took longer than expected to reach the top, but it did not matter because it was
socked in worse than the day before.  Super milky.  Feeling confident in our navigational
skills from yesterdays whiteout session Matt and I decided to ski the East Ridge again.
The thin snow cover and horrible visibility had us moving very slow.  A ways down we 
came upon a cool looking chute, but it didn’t make any sense.  A real head scratcher.
Assuming we were skiers left of our line we decided to head right till we found trees.
After more hiking and traversing we came upon what looked to be the Therapist.
sac cloud
Approximate route Matt and I took.  Old photo of Sac with less snow.
Real confused now we decided to go uphill till something made sense.  Once we hit the
main ridge line I was sure it was the Therapist and we decided quickly to ski it.  The snow 
was fantastic in the couloir and ended up being a great line for the day. 
Still hoping for the storm to lift we went up for another.  Similar conditions on top lead
to us having a great run down the skin track feeling our way down the open pow.  With no
sign of the weather changing we headed out.
Next Part 2

Middle Tit?

Middle Teton/ Nez Perce    GTNP                     April 30, 2014

The last few seasons I have nibbled at Grand Teton National Park, but never taken
a full bite.  I finally got a mouthful.  
Rolled into town on the heels of a larger storm (2-3′).  Sam Phillips and I decided to head
up Garnet canyon because of all the options and check things out.  Plan A was Middle
Teton Glacier Route, but if conditions were too sketch for steeps then other options
would be explored.
The Middle Teton plastered in snow.  Glacier Route is lookers right obscured by mountain.
It was nice to have Sam guide through the low lands in the dark.  Things down low were set up
and firm.  Further up more of the same.  Things looked good so far.  We were making good
time when we switched to booting part way up the Glacier Route.
Sam in the trench.
The booting was deep, very deep.  At points it was chest deep.  Ordinary steps would not
work.  I had a system that worked, but it was very slow.  Some Verts or BillyGoats
would have helped.  From where we started booting I figured we would finish the last
vertical in an hour, 2 at most.
Sam’s turn to break trail, not so deep.  But that was short lived.
At the top of the Ellingwood Couloir we talked to a group that was passing on summiting,
because of the deep snow and there line was getting direct exposure to the sun.
Sam and I decided to head on since we like wallowing up hill.  
Ski the gut or ridgeline?  Ended up in the gut.
Well that last 800′ of vertical took about 3 hrs.  Somehow.  So, pleased to be at the notch
between the false summit and main summit we called it time to shred.  The results of an
aggressive ski cut were pleasing to both of us.  The snow was great, with minimal sluff
produced.  Slayage ensued.  Conditions lower down consisted of fresh wind wip.  Our skin
track had already disappeared during our ascent.
Sam lower down on the Glacier Route.
After shredding down to Garnet Canyon we stopped to eat lunch and enjoy watching the wet
slides roar down.  With no reason to head back to civilization and beautiful weather we
decided to go up West Hourglass on Nez Perce which was not affected by the sun.
Looking up West Hourglass on Nez Perce.
The Middle Teton and The Grand Teton.
The hike up was mellow and an old boot pack helped.  As a plus the wind had erased previous
tracks.  After what we dealt with earlier in the day this hike was a breeze.  We enjoyed the
shit out of it.
Sam near the top with the Middle in the background.
Evening pow.
Pockets of pow were enjoyed by us both as we finished the run down to the mouth of
the canyon.  The lower mountain was in refreeze mode which made the exit fast.
Overall this mouthful of a day tasted great and I’m looking forward to the next
mouthful of Teton.
You may have noticed it’s not April anymore or even May.  I have some fun
ski days left to share from this season that will trickle out during the summer
when everyone’s mind is far far away from skiing.  So, to all 5 people who
enjoy summer stoke, it’s on the way.  Eventually.

More Couloir Hunting

Beartooths Montana                                                        April 27, 2014

In the spring it’s hard to guess at what elevation it will start to snow.  We were glad
to see it lower than expected today.  Didn’t really help the approach but it did look cool.
Brendan Henry leading the way.
This mountain looks like a good place for someones evil lair.
I was very happy to see that the couloir had already puked its guts out before we
got to it.  So it would be a less hazardous climb.
A deep spot.
Brendan topping out.
Some how the top snuck up on us.  This rarely ever happens.  Probably why Brendan has
such a big grin.
I don’t know what face I’m making but I was excited to be here.
The top skied the best with pow and a mini spine feature to keep sluff in order.
You sure you want me to go first?  I’m gonna side step it.  Better take a pic.
Quite possibly the coolest couloir Brendan or I have ever skied.  To think, most of the
day I pondered whether Brendan would be satisfied skiing this small 2,000′ run when
there are larger ones all around.