I spent a few days skiing around Heart Lake in early December, taking advantage of the good, stable, early season snowpack. Heart Lake lies just south of Hoodoo pass, and provides much better ski touring than the terrain closer to the pass, in my opinion.
December 11 - Dalton Chutes to Hidden Lake
I parked at the Freezout pass turnoff on the Trout Creek road, and took advantage of a surprise snowmobile tow to the Heart Lake trailhead from friendly skiers (thanks!). From the trailhead, I toured on fast snow to Heart Lake, then Pearl Lake, then the pass between Pearl and Dalton Lakes. Snow stability was good, so I set a track up the Central chute and skied four of the classic Dalton chutes. Then, I climbed and skied two runs above Heart Lake before making a long climb to the top of the Hidden Lake basin. I sniffed around for the entrance to the Hidden couloir, but ran out of daylight trying to locate the entrance. I instead skied good powder down to Hidden Lake, then descended to the trail and skied out to the car by headlamp. All in all about 8,800 vertical feet and done in 9 hours car to car.
|At the Pearl/Dalton divide, looking forward to a fun day.|
|Skier's Left Dalton chute.|
|Dalton Lake chute.|
|Chute above Heart Lake.|
December 18 - Dalton Chutes with friends
I convinced Josh, James and Kyle to make the drive out from Missoula. We got our community service out of the way early in the day by pushing a small 2WD car out of the ditch (seemed like a good idea last night at the bar...) We quickly approached Dalton Lake and skied two of the Dalton chutes before climbing and skiing good snow down to Heart Lake. Everyone was excited about the good conditions after enduring thin snow elsewhere around Missoula. Ice on the road had softened considerably during the day, and the Subaru barely made it out.
|Approaching the Heart Lake trailhead.|
|Making a sneaky passing move while Kyle scopes out the Dalton chutes.|
|The crew coming up the Central chute, Dalton chutes|
|James skiing the skier's left Dalton chute.|
December 19 - Trio Lakes to Hoodoo attempt