Monday, January 21, 2013

Skiing Bass Creek Canyon

Posted By on Mon, Jan 21, 2013 at 2:06 PM

On Friday three of us ventured up Bass Creek to explore something new for the season. Bass Creek has some of the best ski touring in the Bitterroot Range and we wanted see how it was filling in this early season.

The Summit of Point 8533 in Bass Creek Canyon

While any tour in Bass Canyon requires a decently long approach, the options for both aspect and terrain are some of the best around. From skiing big lines on St. Joseph Peak, to treed glades by Lappi Lake, to stunning couloirs and bowls on Stormy Joe, 9003 feet, and Smoky Joe, 8533 feet, it is one of the most interesting places to visit in the Bitterroots. We toured to Smoky Joe and skied the east facing gully into the upper basin and then returned to the top to ski the long north facing slope to Bass Creek.

Looking north to Stormy Joes south face
We found decent powder still on the east aspect with a few spots of windslab, and the north face was ubiquitous firm windslab from peak to creek. Supportive and tiring on the quads, at the end of the second run we headed downcanyon and out to the car on some of the best canyon powder. Snow depths were a bit on the light side with two to four feet of dense, settled snow depending on aspect and elevation. South faces have terrible breakable crusts, which may be skiable corn by now. While another storm is on order, if it provides little and rebounds to sunny skies, I'll be searching out spring lines already on the south faces of Stormy Joe and elsewhere in the range.
The backbowl of Smoky Joe

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