The Giggler

Red Mountain, Gallatin Range               May 18, 2014

giggler
The Giggler (a few days later)
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This one was Ben VandenBos and Ned Gall’s idea.  I was at a loss of where to go ski
because of poor freezes at night for quite awhile.  I talked to Ned the night before
and he said they were planning on skiing a line up Hyalite that would more than
likely go with a bit of monkeying to get through.  Not exactly sure where he was
talking about but it sounded like fun.
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benrock
Ben opted for some scrambling action.
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Ben was gracious to ask if he could lead.  Haha, I have no clue where we’re going,
and Ned didn’t care.  So off we went with Ben leading the way.
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entrance
Ben leading the way off the top.
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benleading
Exposure and funky snow.
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The snow was punchy, grabby, inconsistent, but good enough.  The snow encouraged
conservative skiing style.  Most of our turns where fairly ugly, but style points would
only be awarded with finishing the descent unscathed.
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nedstretch
Ned working his way through a techy bit.
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nedsteep
Ned on a steep traverse.  No camera tricks here, it was spicy.
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nogo
Ben checking to see if it goes, not so much.
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Plan A was to go down and left of the gully to exit.  Ben went to take a look, but what he
saw was not going to work today.  So it was on to Plan B of traversing some gullys to the
North to exit.
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sidestep
The uphill portion of the descent.
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At the top of the side step up we found a cliff ban blocking our way.  There were two
options, an 8ft drop into the funk or a chunk of rock to monkey down.  Ben and Ned
started downclimbing and since I was last I had more time to think about it.  My head
swiveled back and forth between unappealing options.  Eventually I decided to air it
and get it over with.  It went smoothly and put me in position to get a pic some fine
skiing skills by Ned and Ben.
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downclimb
Mixed skiing
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We could almost breathe easy.  One more obstacle is all that was left now, we hoped.
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rockstep
Ned smiles while getting in position for an acid drop off the last of the Gigglers obstacles.
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We couldn’t help but laugh the whole way down because of the ridiculous nature of this run.
A lot of it was nervous excitement from going into the unknown and hoping for the best.  Ben
and Ned had an idea of the obstacles from a picture but you can’t be sure till your right there.
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Sacajawea CrushFest Part 2

Sacajawea Peak, Bridger Range                                      May 13, 2014

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Matt was determined to go up Sacajawea again and get legit dawn patrol turns.
It took me a little time to come around, but seeing the storm blow off the Bridgers in
the evening sealed the deal for me.  After all the skin track was in, we knew the snow
pack, and had our timing dialed.  We both agreed a 2am departure was in order and
Pete Lazar would be joining in.
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Maybe it was the result of the last two days being spent in whiteouts but this morning
was magnificent.  Full moon setting as we made our way uphill and predawn light.
Didn’t need the headlamp for very long.  We were making great time but still felt the
need to hustle.  Being late for sunrise would be unacceptable.
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mattpete
Matt Shortland and Pete Lazar waiting for sunrise on Sac. Peak.
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We made it to the top of Sacajawea at about 5:30am and had 30min. before
sunrise.  
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dan1
Skier: Dan Jupka        Photo: Matt Shortland
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I managed to grab firsties on Sac face.  Matt went over to the top of his line to shoot some
photos.  I dropped into pink light maybe a little early, but I wanted everyone to have
time in Sherbert Land.
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sluffy
Pete skis next to a sluff roaring off a cliff.     Photo:  Matt Shortland
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I took it easy this time through the pinch into the wind buffed lower apron which skied well.
Pete skied the top face with gusto, excited by how the snow looked as I skied.
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mattorange
Matt enjoying Sherbert Land.
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topagain
On top for round two, 7:30am.
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petecp
Pete dropping into Corner Pocket.  Photo:  Matt Shortland
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petecp2
Pete above the pinch in Corner Pocket.  Photo:  Matt Shortland
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pete3
Pete on round 3, things starting to heat up.   Photo: Matt Shortland
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pete3rd
Pete round 3, my point of view.
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dan2
Dan centerpunching after Matt made it look so good.    Photo: Matt Shortland
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During our third run the snow was heating up and wet slides became a factor.  For our next
run we decided to ski The Rapist because of its north facing aspect.  Unfortunately coming
off the summit Pete had some gear issues.  He decided to descend the skin track while Matt
and I continued on.
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mattrap
Matt
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It was fun finding the entrance to this line again.  Exposed turns lead to a little sneak into the
top of the line.  There was good snow still but a little slabby and kept us on guard.  We took
our time getting down since there is a pretty good pucker factor skiing to the pinch and not
knowing how wide it really is.
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straightliner
Dan in the choke.   Photo: Matt Shortland
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At the bottom we met up with Pete and headed out.  As far as I can tell we nailed it pretty
damn good.  I think this day was the peak amount of snow in the Bridgers.  Lines filled in as
good as they will get for this season.  Glad we went for it.
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Sacajawea CrushFest

Sacajawea Peak, Bridger Range                            May 11/12, 2014

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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.
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bluemorning
Matt and Ben, Sacajawea Bowl earlyish
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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.
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trying
I think it’s going to clear!  Yeah right.
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The mountains were socked in on our approach.
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IMG_4825
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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.
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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.
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pristineskintrack
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cloudskinning
Almost on top of Sacajawea for round 2.
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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.
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skintrackblue
The snow was skiing great and would be fantastic if you could see it.
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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.
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notnow
Looking down the SouthEast Face of Sacajawea.  Visibility not acceptable yet.
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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.
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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.
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gloryhole
Wowsers! That was wow.
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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.
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mattspray
Matt spraying 
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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.
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Day 2
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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.
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skis
Summit of Sacajawea peak.
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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.
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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.
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sac cloud
Approximate route Matt and I took.  Old photo of Sac with less snow.
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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. 
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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.
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Next Part 2