Location: Trapper Creek drainage, Southern Madison Range, Montana
There may have been no new snow on Feb. 19 in the southern Madisons, but it didn't matter for my ski posse of three- plus two dogs. We were skiing a well-protected and cold face that had not seen any skiers in a week, a week that saw two more feet of snow.
We arrived mid-day, booted up and started skinning to an unnamed point at 9200' along the Coffin Point ridge. Climbing 3,000 feet in the first mile through knee deep pow I quickly overheated, but the rhythm of the skin quickly put me in the zone. Before we knew it we were standing atop a high, lightly treed bowl. Gusty winds blew in and clouds kept the visibility low, but it was clear that terrain extended in every direction.
A hasty pit immediately showed multiple wind slabs had builty up during the week. They sheered clean. We cut off a cornice up top, but could not get anything to slide into the bowl.
So we hit it.
The upper bowl descended into a terrain trap that we avoided, and after 1,000 feet of mid-thigh bliss we skinned back up for another lap.
Our second run, via a tributary of Trapper Creek, was amazing- 3000 feet of super-fun buried obstacles like stumps, logs and rocks kept us hopping all the way down, via semi-open glades and gullies that never got steeper than 33 or 35 degrees.
Soon, we were schussing back to the rig and swearing we'd come back.