March madness was in full effect, so I met up with friends to watch some games
and have a few brews. The forecast for the next day was all over the board so
soon enough all thoughts of an early start were thrown out and replaced with
enjoying the good times.
Up and out of bed at 10:30am, sunny skies damn, guess I should go for a drive
and check out East Rosebud anyways. 11:00am Hit the road.
Anybody know the name of this cooly? Seems like it should have one.
Usually I’m all about early starts but today I figured at the least would be a good
reconnaissance trip. I had very low expectations for what I would ski but the weather
was so nice pulling into the trailhead at 2:00pm, I had to take a walk. T-shirt weather.
I almost went for a walk without my ski gear but figured what the hell. So off I went on
the trail shortly after 2.
My plan soon developed to go for the breathtaking couloir visible above the lake. If I could
just get across the creek easily then I’m going for it. The creek was low and easily crossed.
So I started calculating how much sun light was left for the hike up in my head as I hiked.
Lots of sweet logs and rocks to jib!
At the base of the couloir I was really getting excited about skiing this line.
Add the fact that every step now translated to downhill turns, my low expectations
for the day were already being met.
Snow getting better. Feeling vulnerable to the mountains whim.
At first hiking up I think; Damn these huge rock walls are really cool!
Then reality sets in when I come across a huge boulder freshly deposited
in the couloir (maybe earlier today) and a pile of mountain snot consisting
of trees, rock, and snow. Also some indentations of what I can only assume are from
rocks falling from high up and disappearing into the snowpack upon impact.
Blah. Through your trash here mountain.
All I can think now is how couloirs are the dumpsters of the mountains.
At least this one is in the shade and will be for the rest of the day.
Maybe this was a good idea.
Still got some sunlight left.
Around 80-85 percent up the couloir I come to the first technical rock section.
A thin snowy section on the side is not that difficult so I hike half way up with
bare hands and no crampons. Then my brain tells me maybe this isn’t a good
idea. The thing is I could make it up this, preferably go down crampon/glove/axe
up and crank it out. But then there is another suspect rock section higher up that
may not be easily passable and I’d still have to down climb this choke on the descent.
So I made the choice to ski down as it was 6:30pm and I was running out of light.
The top for me today.
The descent was long and had lots of nice pow near the top. Lower down
conditions weren’t so awesome but still fun. Being a low snow year for the
area makes me wonder what this couloir looks like with more snow. I think
the rock section I stopped at could fill in enough to ski through then there is
only the rock band above it that blocks access to the top of the couloir. Hell,
even late season storms may fill it in enough to be worth trying again.
Sunset on the lake near the end of the couloir.
On the drive home I couldn’t help but think how awesome Montana is.
To be able to squeeze an adventure like this out of a day that I thought was
going to waste from the start is pretty sweet.
Had a short trip to Jackson with my friend Jordan. On the last night many
options were thrown around but we decided on Haystack Peak. Unfortunatly
for Jordan he would sit this one out due to a work conference call. And Hans my
other buddy in Jackson could not make it either, so it ended up being Sam and I.
Haystack Peak East Face, photo from Sam’s friend we saw that day.
Sam below the SouthWest face.
We started up the road with cloudy skies and were soon passed by a group of
snowmobilers. Surprisingly Sam knew a few of them and they chatted before
going on there way. After pondering our location a few times we found the
bottom of our ascent route and started cranking out the vertical. Great skinning
conditions made a steep skin track pleasant and efficient.
Feeling more exposed on the skin track.
Sam on the ridge to Haystack Peak.
Once we reached the main ridge to the summit cloud cover became sporatic
and things were heating up. A quick pit had us feeling good as long as the heat
stayed away longer.
Sam standing at the only entrance other than cornice hucking
into 3000 feet of radness.
On top I asked Sam if he wanted to do rock-paper-scissors for firsts and
he said, No go for it! I was kinda stoked, problem is our entrance involved
a traverse to get to the ridgeline we intended to ski. At the start of the traverse
maybe 20 feet in I started a small wet slide that ran approx. 800 vertical.
After seeing it not develop into much (mass wise) I felt better and proceeded to
the ridgeline. Wow, great turns and rollerball madness.
I skied to a relatively safe spot and whipped out the camera quick to get some
pics of Sam. Turns out Sam was as stoked as me when we met up.
With the top third down, Sam led the next stage which skied amazingly.
Next was the bottom third and it had really felt the heat at this point.
Wet slides were an issue but easily managed as we took our time figuring
a way out through the maze of cliffs on the lower portion.
Exiting Strawberry Creek.
After enjoying lunch in the sun we decided to ski out Strawberry Creek instead of
skinning back up and exiting down the SouthWest face because of the heat. The exit
was rather flat and took us awhile. Time wise I’d vote for the skin up and a second
run to end the day, that is if snow conditions seem favorable.