Thursday, May 31, 2012

Return to the majestic Phasimeroi

Leah skiing on Mount Idaho with Borah peak in the background.

Leah and I spent an enjoyable extended weekend skiing high above the majestic Phasimeroi valley in the Lost River range of Idaho.  The drive was rough, and it wasn't until midnight that we bounced our way into the East fork trailhead.

We overslept our alarm by an hour, but were still on the trail early enough to enjoy the crisp clear morning.  With limited knowlege of the area, we stumbled around a bit before dropping overnight packs at the fork of the Pass lake basin and the next unnamed basin to the north.  In retrospect, a camp in the meadows below Leatherman pass would have been much easier to access with full packs and still adequate for good ski access.  A quick skin into the unnamed basin between Pass and Marion lakes revealed a plethora of interesting, albeit short ski lines.  I got very excited.  We had our sights on the iconic north face of Mount Idaho, so we climbed to a high pass and skied into the upper Marion lake basin.  During the transition to skins, we saw another party of skiers coming down from mount Idaho.  Excited and surprised to find like-minded individuals in this wild corner of the world, we chatted with them before following their uptrack to the summit.  We topped out a little before 5 pm, and enjoyed good snow and dramatic early evening light on the descent from the seventh highest peak in Idaho.  Leah returned directly to camp while I skied steep little couloir before shussing back to snowline and the comforts of camp.
Leah out in front on the north face of Mount Idaho.
Some steep and interesting skiing to round out the day.
With another good refreeze and cold temperatures in the forecast, we treated ourselves to a full night of sleep and a relaxing morning before skinning out of camp, headed for Pass lake.  I had scoped out an improbable line off the northeast shoulder of Whitecap peak during the initial approach, and we headed straight for it. With the aid if ski crampons, I was able to make the ascent entirely on skis.  From the highest point of continuous snow, we linked a series of snowfields and couloirs, all with excellent snow.  After a short nap at the base, we continued up to Pass lake, then up to the bowels of a steep nouloir on the west edge of the north face of Whitecap peak.  The booting in the couloir was steep and difficult, and it took a long time to grind to a steep perch at the top of the couloir.  Leah was apprehensive about the pitch (sustained 50-55 degrees), but after about 100 feet of sideslipping with an ice axe, she linked turns down the remainder of the run to complete her steepest ski descent to date.  We once again celebrated our success with a nap at the base.  From there, we rounded out the day by  bopping north to the unnamed basin and climbing a perfect splitter couloir on an unnamed 11,000 foot peak.  The couloir provided a great warm down from the previous run, and we both enjoyed perfect tuns on the descent.  Once again, I tacked on a short and interesting final run before returning to camp.

Leah navigating the maze on the northeast shoulder of Whitecap peak.

That was fun.

Leah steep skiing above Pass lake.
The last run we skied on Sunday - striking.
Trying to shred on tired legs.

Full belly, tired legs, comfortable camp, majestic sunset.  Life is good.
Seeing no good reason to break our streak of relaxing mornings, we slept until a civilized hour before packing up camp and making our way to the base of Leatherman peak.  Once again, ski crampons allowed an easy skin all the way to the summit.  We took a long break on top before skiing 3,000 feet of good corn.  The hike out was quick, and we were soon back at the truck, prepping for the long, bouncy drive back to civilization.

The striking snow ramps of Bad Rock peak and Mount Church.  
Leah skiing off the second highest peak in Idaho.
What a beautiful trip.  I didn't want to leave.


  1. Awesome. Somewhat reminiscent of the Crazies.

  2. @mtsplitski: Yes, a little reminiscent of the Crazies, except there are more access points, and the skiing is more extensive and better (in my opinion).