One of the best things about having Monday's off is being the only one in the backcountry. No weekend crowds but, I get to skin up the track from the weekend warriors. Easy work and big pay off.
Monday, January 14th, 6 A.M., My brother-in-law, Caleb Pleasants, and I head from our homes in Somers towards Essex, Montana. We stop by the Whiteoak Convenience store to pick up some Coconut water (which we swear by) and a few snacks for lunch. About an hour-and-a-half later we find ourselves at the Izaak Walton Hotel in Essex. Get our gear on and head up the skin track put up by weekenders. We get to Marion Lake and start to make our ascent above it on the south facing slopes. Snow is looking great as we head up and we're getting excited for our descent.
Once we're at the top we usually dig a pit and make sure everything is safe. Today we decide not to dig a pit as we see plenty of tracks from the previous day and we also see an old pit that had to have been dug the previous day as well. We stick to the anchored tree'd areas and leap frog down.
WOOP!! YAHOO!! This snow is amazing!! Super light deep powder and some cold smoke to make things even better. We get to the bottom and as we're super stoked on that first run, we throw our skins back on and make our ascent again. This time we decide to go further east on the ridge and find some sweet steep tree skiing that was incredible! MORE COLD SMOKE! "I think I'm getting the white lung," I say to Caleb, "from too much cold smoke." We laugh and look up checking out more areas to ski down with no tracks.
We make one more ascent and after leap frogging and taking photos, we decide that the last 500 feet we should go side by side together. If you have ever skied with someone, for some reason, it's so much fun to go at the same time...I think it's because you're both sharing the same experience at the same time on the same run. We whoop and holler and make our way back to the trail giving each other high fives and fist bumps. We both agree, it's the best day of skiing this year......well, so far. :)