Thursday, February 23, 2012

Two days in the north fork of Lost Horse Creek

Sunset over Lost Horse Creek.
With partners out of town for President's Day weekend, I made plans to spend two days camped in the backcountry.  It seemed logical to choose the north fork of Lost Horse Creek since the approach is fairly short, the peak to creek ski terrain is abundant, and there are plenty of higher avalanche danger options.

The Subaru made it to the south fork trailhead without a problem, and I was soon skinning up the road to the confluence with the north fork.  The climb up into the upper drainage is fairly steep but doable with help from the summer trail.  A casual pace put me at camp within 2 hours of leaving the car, and the rest of the day was devoted to ski exploration.  I first headed up the next large avalanche path west of the BRIBE gully to check out the Sliver gully, which cleaves the north wall of the Ward 3/4 basin.  The upper couloir seemed safe enough, so I committed to the short but steep line.  The skiing was great, with reactive but shallow wind slabs to keep things interesting.  Skin and boot back out before skiing a long and striking avalanche path back south to the creek.  With a few hours of daylight remaining, I set my sights on a steep, exposed northwest facing ramp off the main/north fork divide, which I was fortunate to ski under a spectacular sunset.  Back at camp, the dark hours were spent with the normal winter overnight routine of establishing camp, cooking, reading, and sleeping a lot.

Looking down the Sliver gully on Ward 3.  The south faces
of Canyon Peak and Downing Mountains are visible in the background.
The Sliver gully on Ward 3 looking dapper with a fresh set of ski tracks.
Second run of the trip.
I awoke to a skiff of fresh snow, and was soon skinning up drainage with the intent of skiing into Roaring Lion Creek.  After several hours of challenging dust on crust skinning, I arrived at the entrance to the Ward 3/4 basin.  Unfortunately the entrance was heavily corniced and wind loaded, and I bailed.  3,000' of powder skiing back down to the north fork was an adequate consolation prize.  I spent the rest of the day skiing peak to creek runs off point 8,729.  Re-using the skin track violated my anti yo-yo skiing tendencies, but each run was a fairly independent line, and skied brilliantly.  5 pm found me hand jamming on a short and akward downclimb into the top of the last avalanche path, and a quick egress put me back at the car right at dark.  10,030 vertical feet according to Google Earth, and done in 10.5 hours tent to car.  For route finding information, see the Ski Route Descriptions Page.

Fresh wind slabs were touchy but manageable.

Just another amazing peak-to-creek run off point 8,729.

Ski run #2 off point 8,729.

Ski run #3 off point 8,729 and time to head home.

1 comment:

  1. The new blog is great, Brian. I'm looking forward to seeing your routes page grow.