Wednesday, March 7, 2012

The Fin and the Whitestripe - 3/4/2012

Skiing the Fin.
I spent an enjoyable Sunday exploring Roaring Lion Creek with Kyle and Leah.  From the trailhead, we skinned 3 miles or so up the beautiful open Ponderosa Pine drainage, then up through willows and gloppy snow to the basin in between Ward 2 and 3.  Still skeptical about snow stability, we bypassed the Ward 3 gullies and instead climbed to the summit of the Fin.  The views were outstanding, and we took a long relaxing break on top.  The Fin itself skied well, and we sent Kyle out ahead to put in the skin track to the summit of Ward 2 and the Whitestripe gully.
Snack break below Ward 3.
Leah topping out on the Fin.
The climb was short, and a traverse and quick talus downclimb put us on top of the Whitestripe.  The ensuing run was great - a big wind buffed upper face which funneled down into a long and enjoyable open gully.  There is a major icefall near the bottom of the gully which we bypassed in an adjacent gully system on skier's left.  The snow deteriorated at the bottom, and the bushwack and boulder bounce down to the trail was slow and unpleasant.  The return to the car was relaxing, even on the undulating Roaring Lion trail.  I think the Whitestripe gully is a bit too adverse at the bottom to be a classic peak to creek Bitterroot descent, but it was an excellent day of exploration.  Thanks to Kyle for breaking trail all day.  5,500 vertical feet and done in 9.5 hours car to car.
Kyle in the Whitestripe gully.
The route.

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