Solstice Week in the Bitterroot Backcountry

February 5, 2013 at 10:42 | Posted in Backcountry skiing the Bitterroots, Deep Powder Skiing, Skiing at Downing Mountain Lodge | Leave a comment

Starting Sunday this week, the mountains of the Bitterroots have picked more than two feet of fresh snow at the upper elevations. This made for deep trailbreaking by Monday which persisted through tuesday. The downhill skiing in the backcountry was exceptionally good with fresh, unconsolidated, cold smoke the surface conditions Sunday, Tuesday and Wednesday. I spent the day Monday plowing the access roads. At this point only over the snow and skiing into the lodge. We fired up the snowmachine on wednesday and broke the machine trail.

Sunday, Blake, Brian and I toured to the Sweathouse Creek Bowl at Gash Point and took a great run down towards the canyon. We pulled up maybe halfway down to avoid thinner snowpack and skinned back up and out to the long moderate Gash Creek Bowl which was skiing better than I had ever experienced. We caught a traverse line back to the skinners ridge at Gash Point Skier’s summit and made two great laps in the north trees and the south bowl. A fairly big day of about 9,000 vertical feet, the skiing was one storm shy of good all the way to the lower trailhead. Monday I plowed, and then Tuesday we broke trail to the Downing Mountain Lodge and then up to the top of the Charcoaled Bowl for another great run of 2,500 feet. Every time down this year I have been amazed at how well the burn has improved the terrain above the lodge. The trailbreaking was difficult on Tuesday and we ran out of time for another run. Wednesday, we returned to Downing and broke trail to the Crown Bowl which was stable and great skiing. Thursday brough some more showers as has Friday morning. With some wind affect and waring temps the snow is settling out now.

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