Back in the States


I’ve been back home for the last couple weeks. Haven’t been skiing much other than a quick dawn patrol up Mt. Ellis. I have however been doing a fair amount of rock climbing as the temperatures have been warming up a bit.

Enjoy these European Panorama’s and climbing pictures!

View from the Brevent Ski Area

Chamonix...what else can I say?

Aguille Verte

Steve Gilson photoing the Swiss Alps

The view from Chappelsiberg

The Wetterhorn Massif and the rest of the valley below Haslital Ski Area

Sunset on the Italian Riviera

Patrick Lawrence slashes on Mt. Ellis... my first day skiing back in the good ol' USofA

Sara Jay, rock climbing at Revenue Flats, west of Bozeman

Cool fire effect, camping at Revenue Flats

Sarah Eshback makes her way up a 5.7 on her first day ever climbing.

Myself, looking for holds. Photo: Sarah Eshback

Climbing at the end of the day. Photo: Sarah Eshback

One more night of camping in beautiful Revenue Flats...

Finally, be sure to check out Steve Gilson Photography for more (and better) pictures of my recent Europe trip as well as other great pictures from around the west!

Eurotrash Update 4 – And a couple huge thanks!!!


Sorry about not posting in so long, have had limited internet access which has made it difficult post.

Before I go any further I need to send a huge thank you the Steffy and Matthias Albert-Arnold in Seedorf, Switzerland. They showed us some great hospitality, fed us well, and let us sleep at their house for a week. So thank you Steffy and Matthias!!

The very gracious Arnold family, from left, Steve Gilson, Cory Arnold, Claudia Arnold, Steffy Albert-Arnold, Me, Matthias Albert-Arnold. Thank you guys so much!!

Also thanks to our friends Leif and Katie, they let us crash at the chalet they were watching all winter and showed us around Meiringen-Hasliberg. Leif even let me use his helmet cam for a run!! (I will post the video up when I make my Meiringen-Hasliberg post)

After a final day at Andermatt, we hopped on the train to go back to Disentis and stay at a cool Swedish hostel. We had an excellent day at Disentis before clouds moved in and the light got super flight. One drawback about skiing Europe is that so much of it is alpine that if the sun isn’t shining you can’t see anything.

Looking down and Andermatt line

Steve G drops into a chute in Disentis, Switzerland

After the second day of skiing we returned to the hostel to be told there had been a misunderstanding and we didn’t have a room. Not sure what to do, we called Steffy and Matthias who graciously let us stay last minute at their place. The next day it was raining in Seedorf, so Steve and I took a rest day and checked out Seedorf. The next day, Steffy’s dad Cory arranged for Steve and I to go on a gravel barge across Lake Luzern, it was an early morning, we were up at 4 am but a great crew and plenty of coffee, led Steve and I on a awesome personal tour of beautiful Lake Luzern. The next day Steffy and Matthias took us to Lugano, in southern Switzerland to do some Via Ferrata (it was still stormy in the Alps so no skiing to be had).

Via Ferrata in Lugano Switzerland... a fun down day activity.

The next day the storm broke and there was 40 cms of blower pow to be skied. Steffy and her parents took Steve and I up our first Swiss peak, The Rossstock, and then we lapped deep snow the rest of the day.

Matthias Albert-Arnold shreds some Swiss pow at Chappelsiberg

Cory Arnold getting deep

Steffy Albert-Arnold showing us Americans how to ski pow

Steffy and Matthias working it

Steve and I lingered on more day to ski more powder at Chappelsiberg, which is a funky tiny 4 person tram that Steffy’s uncle built in 1964, but for 7 swiss francs takes you to a touring paradise. Steve and I explored a new drainage which led to some really fun faces to ski, and all of them untracked.

Steve skinning in Chappelsiberg

Steve slashing above an alpine hut in Chappelsiberg

Mountainman Steve

Untouched Pow, Steve Shredding

It was tough to leave Chappelsiberg after so many runs like this

After two days in Chappelsiberg we headed to see Leif and Katie in Hasliberg, which I will post about soon.

Prepping for Europe


I leave in a week for a long European excursion to do some skiing and traveling in the Alps. So I have been spending the majority of my time working, training and planning. In the process I found a really cool zone that, by Montana standards, is pretty easy access. So over the course of a few days I made 3 trips into the zone and summitted all 3 of the major peaks in the drainage, which resulted in nearly 30 miles and 20k of vert climbed and skied in 3 of 4 days. Not a bad way to start shaping up for the 20k vert a day in the Alps.

For skiing I’ve been trying to ski Bridger Bowl when I can, but without a pass it’s sometimes hard to get up there.

Ryan Walters sending it in Mundy's bowl at Bridger Bowl

Myself, airing out of Alabaster Chute in the Diagonals zone at Bridger Bowl

This tin was in my pocket during a pretty violent fall in Mundy's. Saved me from ending my season early, that's for sure.

As for touring and climbing, I’ve spent a lot of time on the easy approach and low angle of Mt Ellis, but I also found a drainage that I am going to keep secret for a little while. Skied off of 3 different summits over 4 days in this area.

Panorama of the Northern Absaroka mountains

The first of the three mountains climbed and skied during a summit binge in this drainage.

The fun thing about the 3 mountains in this zone is that they get progressively more difficult. The first day was on the easiest peak to get a feel for the snow and see what the terrain looked like.

Steve Geiger coming out of the inversion on the approach

Only one of many aesthetic and fun looking lines only a little more than 2 hours from the trailhead

Over the next two days I bagged both of these mountains

Shawtann Whitson climbs towards the summit of the first mountain climbed.

Rob Wudlick and Steve Geiger hike to our line

Shawtan Whitson enjoys the bottom half of 1200' of powder.

Steve Geiger on the approach for summit number 2

Steve Geiger nears the summit of peak number 2 after getting caught in an afternoon storm

Patrick Lawrence gears up at the trailhead in the wee hours of the morning for an attempt on the third peak.

Looking down my line from the top of the gnarliest peak in the zone

The last peak we climbed was the most difficult to climb and ski. I was up there with my good friend Patrick, who I ski and climb with frequently. After winning a round of ro-sham-bo for first tracks down what appeared to be one of the best runs of my life, Patrick staked out a cover worthy photo angle and waited for me to drop. I clicked into my skis on the pointy summit and looked down my line, one turn on a spine then straightline a little chute, lay a big slasher for the photo then race my slough out. I yelled to Patrick that I was dropping. I lightly skied onto the spine and made my first turn, this is when the mountain reached up and took one of my skis. I fell headfirst down a little chute, over some rocks then went through the washing machine as my slough pushed me down the hill. I fought my way out of the moving snow above another rock band, and with only one ski traversed to a “safe” spot. I yelled to Patrick I was ok, but I was missing a ski. Worried my ski was buried deep in slough at the bottom, I looked around and sure enough, my ski was poking straight-up still on the top of the mountain. Patrick recovered it and brought it to me. I gave him first tracks for the rest of the run because of my stupid fall.

Looking back up through the carnage after falling on my first turn. If you look at the very top of the mountain you can see my ski poking up.

Patrick Lawrence slashes after rescuing my ski.

Taggert and Green/Wilson Huts – The 2009 Photo Line-up


Sweet epicness brah! Silverton ’10


In an attempt to start a new family tradition, my dad, two brothers and I, all met up after Christmas to ski Silverton Mountain Resort in the San Juan Mountains of Colorado. Silverton is special to my family as my parents, Zack, and I all lived there in the mid-80’s (I don’t remember much because I was only 2 at the time), so it is cool to go back and hear my dad’s old stories.

We picked my older brother up at the Grand Junkyard airport around 10 pm Christmas night, his flight from Bozeman was only a little delayed because of the underwear bomber, and booked it south to spend the night in Ridgeway. Arriving after midnight, we all drank a celebratory beer and passed out to wake up early for the hour drive to the first place I ever lived, Silverton, Colorado.

Main Street Silverton. A road to paradise.

We arrived early for some coffee and eggs then drove to the shady and cold base area of Silverton. After doing the mandatory check in and buying our tickets we busted up the double chair to go ski some glades on Dolores.

Looking through the trees at the Prospects backcountry zone

My dad makes it look a lot better than it was.

The snow on Dolores was not the best and we got worried after a marginal first run. We skied down for another lap and went and skied Colorado, a run with a slightly different aspect and found great snow. We explored the rest of the day and watched the Heli, drop skiers off on peaks all around the ski area.

About as close to heli skiing my older brother and dad have ever been.

My dad catches a little air coming off a headwall

My little brother, Jon, shreds some powder with my dad watching.

Jon milks some powder at the end of our first day of skiing.

After finding where the best snow was on Saturday, we stuck around Sunday to lap the best snow I’ve skied all season. We headed straight up to Rope-Dee and dropped a tight and steep slot to ski some hero snow.

My little brother slashes over some exposure above Rope-Dee

My older brother, Zack sends a cornice at Silverton Mountain Resort.

Jon gets nice and deep on the Rope-Dee run

Zack teaches the powder a lesson in slayage 101

Zack ripping up some soft snow

Zack jumps over some trees off a windlip

One last hike for the day. Another awesome trip and as always had too much fun skiing.

Finally huge thanks to my Grandma Kay for sponsoring us on this trip. Thank you grandma!

My dad called it a day early while the brothers and I took a couple more laps. I borrowed my little brother’s POV cam that we poorly mounted onto my helmet for the last run of the trip. Below is an edit of the run, it’s pretty silly.

More Yellowstone!


My last post about Yellowstone turned out to be quite popular. So here is some more Yellowstone National Park action!

All the way back in May my mother came up to Bozeman and we spent a day in the Park with my older brother who was doing geothermal research. We got to get up and close to some features in Mammoth and learn all sorts of fun facts.

Mammoth Hot Springs

Mammoth Hot Springs

This hot spring is off the beaten path and I think is a fairly new spring.

This hot spring is off the beaten path and I think is a fairly new spring.

Narrow Gauge hot spring used to be fairly small, but in the last ten years or so really started spewing water. Here you can see terraces forming around trees.

Narrow Gauge hot spring used to be fairly small, but in the last ten years or so really started spewing water. Here you can see terraces forming around trees.

Narrow Gauge hot spring, near Mammoth hot springs.

Narrow Gauge hot spring, near Mammoth hot springs.

A little black bear taking a nap.

A little black bear taking a nap.

Then this last weekend I headed to Yellowstone one last time for the year. Only the Gardiner to Cooke City road was open, but we still drove to Cooke City then hit the boiling river.

Pretty cool falls that I had never stopped at before. Don't know their name either.

Pretty cool falls that I had never stopped at before. Don't know their name either.

Abiathar Peak. Yes this face is skiable, and yes I want to make an attempt this winter.

Abiathar Peak. Yes this face is skiable, and yes I want to make an attempt this winter.

Lamar Valley looking back towards the Absaroka Mountains.

Lamar Valley looking back towards the Absaroka Mountains.

Montana’s Highest Point – Granite Peak (12,799′)


This past weekend I undertook the formidable challenge of trying to climb what has been speculated as the technically most difficult state high point to climb (I imagine Denali is up there too, but that’s what Tom Turiano says). I was invited last week to go with two friends I met in Montana but grew up less than an hour away from in Colorado and my other good friend and reliable partner, Rob. The plan was to leave Friday morning at 10 am and cross the Froze-to-death Plateau that day and camp at the saddle between Tempest Mountain and Granite Peak. But in typical Bozeman fashion we ended up leaving town at 2 in the afternoon on Friday. This late start resulted in leaving the trailhead after 4 pm to hike 3 miles to Mystic Lake then climb and cross the 5 mile long plateau.

Mystic Lake

Mystic Lake

We put our heads down and cranked out the climb getting to the saddle between East and West Rosebud drainages before sunset. We then set out for another two hours of hiking across the plateau at night with no trail to follow.

Sunset on Froze-to-Death Plateau

Sunset on Froze-to-Death Plateau

We arrived at the base of Froze-to-death Mountain, cooked dinner, drank a little whiskey, and went to bed in sustained 35-45 mph winds.

After a poor night of sleep in the wind, I was the first one up (typical) and decided to go for a short side hike up Froze-to-death Mountain (11,760′). This was nice because we had hiked in the dark and we weren’t 100% sure where to go. I quickly scrambled up some scree to the summit in howling wind (it almost blew me over a couple times) and scouted the route to Granite Peak.

Granite Peak from Froze-to-Death Mountain

Granite Peak from Froze-to-Death Mountain

I returned to camp to find a mountain goat only a few yards from our tents. Apparently, the goat had been there all morning and in my sleepy stupor I walked right past it without noticing. After my hike I was starting to wake up and realized that it was my 25th birthday. What a place to spend a birthday!

Rob Wudlick makes a friend with a mountain goat

Rob Wudlick makes a friend with a mountain goat

The goat was hanging out right next to camp when we woke up.

The goat was hanging out right next to camp when we woke up.

He was still there after we packed up and left.

He was still there after we packed up and left.

We packed up camp and hit the road. We circumnavigated Froze-to-death Mountain and headed directly for Granite Peak.

Rob crossing the Froze-to-Death Plateau

Rob crossing the Froze-to-Death Plateau

Arriving at the final saddle between Tempest Mountain and Granite Peak a little before my comrades I made the quick jaunt up Tempest Mountain (12,486′). From there I could see the East Ridge, our intended route.

Granite Peak from the summit of Tempest Mountain

Granite Peak from the summit of Tempest Mountain

I returned to my group, who was resting near a cairn, and we scrambled down loose scree to the low point between Tempest and Granite. Here we cached our camping gear and set off up a steep scree slope, staying near the ridge. We topped out of the scree field where we had a short scramble to the so called “snow bridge”. This late in the season it wasn’t much of a bridge as more of a narrow sliver of ice 45 degrees steep. There was a fixed line luckily to hold on to, but nonetheless, Chris managed to slip on the slippery ice and was only saved by holding onto the fixed line.

Chris Gold takes a scary slip crossing the snow bridge

Chris Gold takes a scary slip crossing the snow bridge

We then continued to climb a maze of boulders, chimneys, cracks, and ledges to the summit of the mountain. We free climbed the whole way, but it was some of the scariest, most technical climbing I’ve experienced and would rate it with Capitol Peak in Colorado and The Grand Teton.

Rob getting ready for the first pitch

Rob getting ready for the first pitch

Our leader and route finder, Rob, free climbs a section on Granite Peak

Our leader and route finder, Rob, free climbs a section on Granite Peak

Our crew on the summit

Our crew on the summit

Looking sout from Granite Peak's summit towards Yellowstone National Park.

Looking sout from Granite Peak's summit towards Yellowstone National Park.

After a nice break and snack on the summit of Montana’s highest point we began the first of five rappels to get off of the mountain. This was nice because rappelling is relatively easy and you get to just hang out and enjoy the view while you wait for others to rappel down.

Rob on the first Rappel

Rob on the first Rappel

Rob takes a break on the way down.

Rob takes a break on the way down.

Chris Gold takes in the beauty of the Beartooths and Northern Absarokas

Chris Gold takes in the beauty of the Beartooths and Northern Absarokas

Rob on rappel

Rob on rappel

After the rappels came perhaps the biggest challenge of the trip. Our plan was to hike down to Avalanche Lake and camp on the western shore. However, the scree below Granite Glacier was perhaps the worst scree-field I have ever experienced. It took probably two hours to go half a mile where we camped on the eastern edge of Avalanche Lake. That night winds were extremely strong gusting perhaps 50-65 mph, and at one point my tent was blown completely flat by the winds and my tent poles paid the price.

Venus sets over Granite Peak, not a bad way to spend my 25th birthday.

Venus sets over Granite Peak, not a bad way to spend my 25th birthday.

I slept under the stars that night and slept relatively well. I awoke to the sunrising on Granite Peak and enjoyed the spectacular morning in my sleeping bag.

After sleeping under the stars, this is what I awoke to.

After sleeping under the stars, this is what I awoke to.

We started hiking early and “enjoyed” many more miles of scree. At least the views weren’t bad.

Nonstop beauty on the way out.

Nonstop beauty on the way out.

A little oasis we found.  This lake was not on any maps we looked at, but is beautiful and was a great spot to rest a little bit.

A little oasis we found. This lake was not on any maps we looked at, but is beautiful and was a great spot to rest a little bit.

A poor attempt at black and white of a creek just below treeline.

A poor attempt at black and white of a creek just below treeline.

We bypassed some lakes by cutting a corner but ended up dealing with some steep scrambling. We bushwhacked our way through thick forest along Huckleberry Creek and around several lakes before emerging at Mystic Lake.

The Hague towers above Mystic Lake

The Hague towers above Mystic Lake

Rob and Michael are stoked to be back at Mystic Lake

Rob and Michael are stoked to be back at Mystic Lake

We made the hike out fairly quickly enjoying the scenery and the smooth trail. Interestingly, Mystic Lake is also a reservoir that powers a hydroelectric turbine at the West Rosebud Creek trailhead. The system was built over two years and was completed in 1924. Quite an amazing feat for the 1920s, especially the tram, as I have never scene anything like it.

Hydro-power pipeline from Mystic Lake

Hydro-power pipeline from Mystic Lake

The pipeline drops down to a turbine at the trailhead.  Pretty impressive feat for the 1920s, especially the tram that runs all the way to Mystic Lake.

The pipeline drops down to a turbine at the trailhead. Pretty impressive feat for the 1920s, especially the tram that runs all the way to Mystic Lake.

It’s Coming…


I can’t wait!!!!
My new Garmont Radiums came in the mail last night!
Last season’s highlights…

Sending it early season style Photo: Evan Johnson

Sending it early season style Photo: Evan Johnson

Early season deepness Photo: Evan Johnson

Early season deepness Photo: Evan Johnson

Early Season N. Bridgers  Photo: Evan Johnson

Early Season N. Bridgers Photo: Evan Johnson

No Name Bowl

No Name Bowl

The Crazy Mountains

The Crazy Mountains

North Bridger Mountains

North Bridger Mountains

Evan getting some North Bridger action

Evan getting some North Bridger action

Alpenglow on the Crazies

Alpenglow on the Crazies

Absaroka Mountains

Absaroka Mountains

Alpenglow on the Absaroka Mountains

Alpenglow on the Absaroka Mountains

Teton Pass

Teton Pass

Approaching the top of Edelweiss Bowl

Approaching the top of Edelweiss Bowl

Pat Owen gets some Teton Pass blower

Pat Owen gets some Teton Pass blower

Sketchy early season avi conditions...

Sketchy early season avi conditions...

The little bro is getting deep in Aspen

The little bro is getting deep in Aspen

Aspen pow day. Skier Jon Jay

Aspen pow day. Skier Jon Jay

Inverted in CO.  Skier: Jon Jay

Inverted in CO. Skier: Jon Jay

Nighttime at Big Sky

Nighttime at Big Sky

Reilly Anderson, Beehive Basin

Reilly Anderson, Beehive Basin

Simon Peterson ripping Beehive

Simon Peterson ripping Beehive

Steve Gilson getting some

Steve Gilson getting some

Beehive Basin

Beehive Basin

The crew

The crew

Reilly Anderson ripping

Reilly Anderson ripping

Charlie Noone getting deep at Snowbird

Charlie Noone getting deep at Snowbird

Eric Newman, Snowbird

Eric Newman, Snowbird

Snowbird Sunset

Snowbird Sunset

Dylan Brown, Snowbird

Dylan Brown, Snowbird

Kirkwood California from Carson Pass

Kirkwood California from Carson Pass

Mark Welgos on Carson Pass

Mark Welgos on Carson Pass

Lake Tahoe

Lake Tahoe

Sonja Lercher on Carson Pass

Sonja Lercher on Carson Pass

Sonja Lercher skiing Carson Pass, California

Sonja Lercher skiing Carson Pass, California

Nick Devore scouts his finals run at the North American Freeskiing Championships in Kirkwood

Nick Devore scouts his finals run at the North American Freeskiing Championships in Kirkwood

Mike Reveal at Bridger Bowl

Mike Reveal at Bridger Bowl

Reveal shredding

Reveal shredding

Steve Geiger skiing Saddle Peak

Steve Geiger skiing Saddle Peak

Steve Geiger powder skiing on Saddle Peak

Steve Geiger powder skiing on Saddle Peak

I have to include downtown Bozeman exploding on a powder day

I have to include downtown Bozeman exploding on a powder day

Explosion aftermath

Explosion aftermath

Steve Gilson convinced that the explosion seeded the clouds

Steve Gilson convinced that the explosion seeded the clouds

Ben Kinsella wheelies through "Sometimes" at Bridger

Ben Kinsella wheelies through 'Sometimes' at Bridger

Sequence of Eric Newmans front off of Papa Bear... ballsy

Sequence of Eric Newmans front off of Papa Bear... ballsy


IMG_3134
IMG_3135

Late season epic up Black Mountain

Late season epic up Black Mountain

Pine Creek Lake Basin, Absaroka Mountains, Montana

Pine Creek Lake Basin, Absaroka Mountains, Montana

Climbing Black Mountain

Climbing Black Mountain

Ryan Walters slashin' and dashin'

Ryan Walters slashin' and dashin'

Scoping our tracks

Scoping our tracks

Another late season challenge, The Hanging Garden

Another late season challenge, The Hanging Garden

Climbing Beehive Peak in the Spanish Peaks, Montana

Climbing Beehive Peak in the Spanish Peaks, Montana

About to drop into the Hanging Garden

About to drop into the Hanging Garden

Steve Gilson dropping into the Hanging Garden

Steve Gilson dropping into the Hanging Garden

Steve G. shredding

Steve G. shredding

Rob Woodlich climbs Gallatin Peak

Rob Woodlich climbs Gallatin Peak

Ready to ski Gallatin Peak

Ready to ski Gallatin Peak

Rob rips Gallatin Peak

Rob rips Gallatin Peak

Adventures on Hwy 212 – Beartooth Pass


The last few years it has become a bit of a tradition to head to Red Lodge and ski Beartooth Pass when it opens. Had great weather this year as well as some really good skiing.

Airing the top of Gardiner Headwall - Photo: Pat Owen

Airing the top of Gardiner Headwall - Photo: Pat Owen

A little pig ripping... Bearcreek Saloon Pig Races

A little pig ripping... Bearcreek Saloon Pig Races

IMG_3872

mmm... bacon

mmm... bacon

Davis skiing the crux

Davis skiing the crux

Pat Owen skiing in Gardiner Headwall

Pat Owen skiing in Gardiner Headwall

Steve Gilson and Zack on the top of Gardiner Headwall

Steve Gilson and Zack on the top of Gardiner Headwall

Pat Owen dropping in

Pat Owen dropping in

Enjoying the scene on the Hwy 212

Enjoying the scene on the Hwy 212

Camping up Rock Creek

Camping up Rock Creek

Getting Closer… Black Mountain


I have had a bit of an obsession with Black Mountain in the Northern Absarokas since I saw a sweet winter picture of it. While there are plenty of hearty lines that are particularly steep (e.g. Y-couloirs) they get skied fairly often, and I’m always looking for the way most people don’t go. Thus enters my affair with the North Face Direct route. The line was first climbed by Alex Lowe and Hans Saari, but they couldn’t ski it due to poor snow conditions. The first recorded climb and ski was done by Bobby Downs and Anjin Herndon in 2005. I spied this line hoping that it was a first decent but I was directed to a trip report on Tom Turiano’s website that proved that Herndon and Downs were the first down it.

Black Mountain North Face Direct route, we climbed and skied the green line the red line is the full route

Black Mountain North Face Direct route, we climbed and skied the green line the red line is the full route

Last winter Dave Repnik, Ryan Walters and I headed out to make an attempt on the line. Unfortunately about half a mile from the bottom of the route my Naxo binding exploded into a million parts. Obviously, we had to turn around. Since then I have wanted to go back and make another attempt. Today Ryan and I made that attempt.

Ryan and I headed out of Bozeman Saturday night and camped at the Pine Creek Campground. Once again the 4 a.m. alarm clock came much too early and Ryan and I whipped up some breakfast and coffee and hit the trail shortly after 5 a.m. The first 2 miles or so we had to hike as the snow level has climbed substantially with the recent warmth and rain. Struggling to climb the refrozen snow with our skins we made slow progress up the drainage. Passing where we had to turn around last year, Ryan and I scrambled up a small ridge and caught our first glimpse of the peak.

Our first view of Black Mountain.

Our first view of Black Mountain.

With the temps warming up we were able to skin a little more quickly and made good time to the bottom of the climb. We started booting up the exit couloir but ended up just wallowing in weird grapple-like snow. We put our skis back on and skinned up to a shaded area that provided better boot packing snow. We then trudged upward hoping the snow wouldn’t warm up too much.

Ryan booting up the exit couloir

Ryan booting up the exit couloir

The chute topped out to a nearly sheer 400 foot cliff. We traversed the top of the couloir to our decision point where we had planned to decide whether to continue or not.

Ryan traversing the top of the exit couloir with the summit of Black Mountain looming above.

Ryan traversing the top of the exit couloir with the summit of Black Mountain looming above.

We were on a wind lip that split the face, one side the fall line went down the exit couloir, the other side the fall line fell straight down a huge cliff. Here we had to decide to leave the safety of the chute and get out on the steep face that was an absolute no fall zone. Temperatures were warming very quickly and we watched small snowballs roll down and off the cliff. The snow was mashpotatoey and getting rotten. Because of the extreme exposure and quickly deteriorating snow we played it safe and stopped there. Right when we were making this decision we got a shower of slushballs releasing from the rocks above and this just confirmed our fears about climbing higher on the face. We down climbed a short distance to a less steep slope and geared up for the ski. The snow was chalky and responsive, very fun skiing. Ryan went first and threw a sweet slasher right on the edge of the giant cliff.

Ryan tempting the void with a slasher on the edge of a 400' cliff

Ryan tempting the void with a slasher on the edge of a 400' cliff

... and making it look like it's all in a days work

... and making it look like it's all in a days work

Not feeling as ballsy as Ryan, I opted to ski the gut of the line and had a blast making solid, big, arcing turns. Both of us were amped on the run and felt like we had made the right decision not to climb higher.

Looking back at our mountain graffiti

Looking back at our mountain graffiti

We then had to traverse out and cross Pine Creek Lake. We took our time enjoying the gorgeous mountains that surrounded us.

Ryan scoping our tracks

Ryan scoping our tracks

Plenty of options above Pine Creek Lake.  Makes me wish I had a helicopter

Plenty of options above Pine Creek Lake. Makes me wish I had a helicopter

One of the most beautiful drainages I have ever been in.

One of the most beautiful drainages I have ever been in.

Ryan and I continued the slog out and soon we were crossing creeks with our skis on and linking tiny slushy snow patch to tiny slush patch.

Ryan fighting willows on the ski out.

Ryan fighting willows on the ski out.

While we did not reach the peak nor ski the entire line we were happy with our decision. It’s better to play it safe and come back when snow conditions are better, the mountain isn’t going anywhere soon….