Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Sky Pilot, north face, where's the snow?

We need some snow.  In the mean time, Leah, Kyle and I made do and skied the north face of Sky Pilot via Gash Point on January 14.  We left town at a semi-leisurely time and were skinning and walking (see first sentence) from the lower trailhead shortly after 8 am.  Everything went smoothly, and we enjoyed fast travel conditions on the skin up to Gash Point proper (2h 45 min) and on the downhill traverse to Bear Lake.  A couple of pits and a long climb put us on the top of Sky Pilot around 2 pm.  The skiing was fair, and we were soon making our way back up and out via Gash Point.  By tacking on a second Sky Pilot lap, I managed a little better than 9,000 vertical feet.  Also, I spent the day making mental splits and rules for a sub-6 hour Sky Pilot.  So stay tuned for an attempt sometime this winter.  Really nice to be back in the Bitterroot Mountains.

Sky Pilot from Gash Point.  The north face ski route
takes the obvious snow ramp.  Photo: Kyle Scharfe.
skinning above Bear Lake with the east
face looming above.  Photo Kyle Scharfe

Kyle demonstarting impeccable pole technique
under the watchful eye of the Sweathouse spires. 

Kyle and Leah steep skinning on the north face of Sky Pilot.
Leah enjoying the skier's right chute on the north face of Sky Pilot.
We dug a couple of pits on north and south aspects and found some clean shear failures throughout the snowpack, most notably at the new/old snow interface (up to 6" deep CT 11 Q1 and ECTN13), and about 24" down from the snow surface (CT30+ Q1).  We didn't see any suface hoar anywhere.  Bring on the snow!

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