Skiing East Pyramid Peak

February 16, 2012 at 17:46 | Posted in Backcountry skiing the Bitterroots | Leave a comment

Last Wednesday, I had the good fortune to team up with speed skiing artist, Brian Story for a wonderful trip into the Bitterroot Mountains. We toured up and over Little St Joseph Peak finding fast travel on a set skin track all the way to the summit. Descending the ensuing ridge through a krumholtz forest and along the ridge had its tricky moments, but persistence pays. We traversed the top of the long north facing run into Sweeney Creek and after crossing the subridge into the main basin below Big St. Joseph Peak we started our descent into South Sweeney Creek. The skiing was good with nice sheltered north facing powder which we enjoyed for many thousands of feet to the canyon. After skiing a thousand foot avalanche path, we headed west towards the bottom of the East Pyramid and after crossing the creek where we watered ourselves, began the hour long skin to the summit in hot sun at first. After half of the climb the wind blew harder and the clouds rolled in to obscure the sun and harden the softening snow. We reached the summit around noon and after a short break to admire the nice views of the upper Sweeney Creek basins,including Big St Joe and Sweeney Peaks, we began the descent. After softening for part of the morning the snow had refrozen into a manageable and shallow breakable crust and we skied a beautiful line punctuated by an impressively vast upper snow face, smooth and even, followed by a gully that became tight and constricted and with some small avalanche debris, to a open apron depositing us at the bottom of the run. I had remounted my K2 Sahale 174s and struggled with their desire to hold a line if I ventured backseat at all. Brian looked much better on the Dynafit Broad Peaks 167s and schooled me on this descent. Afterwards, I rested and began breaking the trail back up and over the St Joe Ridge, while Brian tackled another shorter gully run to the east of the Pyramids. At the top of the bootpack, I looked down and could see Brian below moving fast, so continuing slowly until the slope moderated enough to skin, I waited there for him. Light snow had begun to fall as we began the final descent to Bass Creek via the Pin Ball Wizard gully. It had avalanched and left a very smooth and hard bed surface which was fun and fast to ski. From the summit ridge to the car took less than an hour where Brian distributed the IPAs and we enjoyed some conversation before heading home. It was my longest day of the year with over 10,000 vertical and Brian tacked on an additional 1,500 or so.

This slideshow requires JavaScript. for a video of the Pin Ball Wizard Gully

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