Late Winter Skiing

March 28, 2013 at 17:42 | Posted in Backcountry skiing the Bitterroots, Backcountry skiing the Missions, Skiing at Downing Mountain Lodge | 1 Comment
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Since Skiing Blodgett Canyon and Sears Peak in February, there have been some exciting days out in the mountains of the Bitterroots, Missions, and Kokanee Range of British Columbia. Made a fun day of skiing some new terrain at Downing Mountain Lodge with a run off the southside down the Opportunity Gully, a sweet 2,000′ + line the follows a ridge feature to a rock lined gully. Not often skied, I can only find a report of one other having descended this great line at Downing Mountain Lodge. The Sawtooth Fire has helped open up quite a bit of terrain and this was no exception especially for the skin out.

Another day was spent approaching Gash Point in blue skies, with our eyes set on Sky Pilot Peak, only to descend to North Bear Lake into a multi hour long snow squall. We managed to summit in a whiteout and ski the north face, but it was not pretty, until we returned to powder skiing below the main rollover. Its always a treat to ski back to Sky Pilot as it is the iconic peak as viewed from Gash Point.

Then we were off to British Columbia for a week at Mount Carlyle Lodge in the Kokanee Range west of Kaslo. We lucked out arriving with close to two feet of fresh, light density, unwinded powder to ski. It snowed consistently about 6 inches a night and set us up for and amazing first five days. We managed to ski many of the highest quality lines there including the circumnavigation of Mount Carlyle, skiing all aspects from the summit of Misty Mountain, and skiing the west face of Whiteface Peak.

Returning home to blue skies, we skied at Downing for a couple days and then I put in a longer trip to Grey Wolf Peak’s west couloir. What an amazing ski venue that one is with fabulous couloirs to ski, stare at and a range worth the bushwhacking through the bottoms.

After the melt down week where we found time for a mountain bike ride on Little Sleeping Child Ridge and a couple days of climbing in Kootenai and Mill Canyons, the snow returned.

Finally our big winter storm arrived and another one to two feet fell in the Bitterroots. Another trip to Gash Point in deep snow conditions and an excellent day at Downing and the north face of Sugarloaf Peak up Chaffing Creek has wrapped up the end of winter. Hopefully spring provides its banquet of powder and corn snow, and I’ll be looking to ski throughout the summer as well. I finished this week off Mountain Biking Ward Mountain about a thousand vertical and then climbing at Mill Canyon. I enjoyed a fast lap at Downing while waiting for PVC glue to dry while fixing a leak in the hot tub. It took me exactly 60 minutes to skin from the lodge to the ridge at a solid intervals pace. I took a break at the top and enjoyed the fine weather and final powder day before schusshing a 2,700′ lap back to the lodge.

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