Friday, December 21, 2012

Solstice Week- Backcountry Skiing

Posted By on Fri, Dec 21, 2012 at 11:48 AM

This past week brought prodigious snowfall to western Montana and the Bitterroot Range. I was able to get out skiing at Gash Point and Downing Mountain for some fabulous powder skiing.

Blake skins out from Sweathouse Creek Bowl

At Gash Point last Sunday, new snow 6-10" deep had fallen overnight on wind slabs and soft snow and we enjoyed fast traveling and great unconsolidated powder skiing. We headed to true Gash Point and faced with serious wind loading opted to ski the safe route into the Sweathouse Creek Bowl, which we skied for about 1700'. After reascending to Gash Creek we skied the long moderate Gash Creek Headwaters Bowl and then traversed and climbed back to the standard skiers summit where we took two runs, one into the north trees and the second into the main southeast bowl. The snow was exquisite and not too deep, quite the perfect day in the Victor Montana Backcountry.

The Final Climb- Gash Skiers Summit

Tuesday and Wednesday, we broke trail at Downing Mountain, where an additional foot of snow had arrived on Monday, which was a plow day. The ski penetration was deep and trail breaking was slow and hard with fat skis. Fat Skis ruled this day, a day where not too long ago we would have called the day too deep for the backcountry. Riding the Voile Drifters however, I have yet to experience a too deep for backcountry skiing snow day. We took one run on tuesday and returned Wednesday to break trail to the Crown Bowl and take a run there. The snow had further settled and trailbreaking was much easier on Wednesday. From the top of the Crown Bowl we were able to look over the backside in the Fallen Jewels Bowl which burned in last summer's Sawtooth Fire. It looks like the skiable terrain is much improved and opened up here; looking forward to getting out and skiing some of these steep south lines to Sawtooth Canyon.
The Fallen Jewels Bowl- Downing Mountain Lodge

Will skins to the Crown Bowl

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