Sacajawea Peak, Bridger Range May 13, 2014. 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. . 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. . Matt Shortland and Pete Lazar waiting for sunrise on Sac. Peak. . We made it to the top of Sacajawea at about 5:30am and had 30min. before sunrise. .
Skier: Dan Jupka Photo: Matt Shortland . 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. .
Pete skis next to a sluff roaring off a cliff. Photo: Matt Shortland . 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.
Matt enjoying Sherbert Land.
On top for round two, 7:30am.
Pete dropping into Corner Pocket. Photo: Matt Shortland
Pete above the pinch in Corner Pocket. Photo: Matt Shortland
Pete on round 3, things starting to heat up. Photo: Matt Shortland
Pete round 3, my point of view.
Dan centerpunching after Matt made it look so good. Photo: Matt Shortland
. 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. .
Matt . 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. .
Dan in the choke. Photo: Matt Shortland . 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. .
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. . 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