Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Bass Lake skiing

Leah skiing on Stormy Joe above Bass Lake.
With high pressure in the forecast, Leah, Blake, James and I headed in to Bass Lake for three days of camping and skiing.  The approach took us most of the first day, and we arrived at camp in the late afternoon tired, and with blistered feet.  After setting camp, we were able to squeeze in a beautiful sunset run just east of the lake.  Blake joined us at camp, and spent the evening regaling us with tales of dark and cold skiing in Alaska. With chalky snow, two fairly stable snow pits, and endless terrain right out the door from camp, we went to sleep well positioned for skiing the next day.
The view from the approach to Bass Lake.
Skinning to Chute de Bleu on the first day.  Photo: James Tricker.
Taking in the view.  Photo: James Tricker.
Sunset over St. Mary peak and the Heavenly Twins.
To our surprise, the second day dawned blustery and cloudy, so we had a relaxed morning at camp before heading straight for the striking Spurge couloir.  After sniffing out the entrance, were treated to chalky snow in the gut of the couloir, and everyone emerged at the bottom in good spirits.  Next up was the vast east face of Bass peak.  We climbed to the saddle between the North and South summits, and skied endless rolling terrain down to the drainage, navigating the complex cliff bands at the bottom. If only there had been powder.  From there, James headed back to camp, and Leah, Blake and I spent the remaining daylight bowl bouncing, skiing the second bowl of the Bass bowl bounce tour and Ben&Al's groove tube, as well as a second lap in the Spurge for Blake.  Back at camp, we spent an enjoyable evening of eating and drinking, swapping stories, and retiring early for a full night of sleep.

Blake sleeping at sunrise on his beloved bed of pine boughs.
Leah skiing the Spurge.  Photo: James Tricker.
Good times in camp.  Photo: James Tricker.
On the last day, Jeffrey arrived just as we were emerging from a cold but relaxed morning at camp. Blake headed out for another run in the Spurge, and the rest of us headed for the sun on the southwest face of Stormy Joe.  Fortunately, the strong sun had already began to work its magic on the snow, and the climb went quickly.  The skiing was superb - enjoyable and aesthetic with perfect corn in between patches of ice.

After bumping our packs about a mile down canyon, James and Blake skied out while Leah, Jeffrey, and I climbed one of the big avalanche paths on the south side of Big St. Joseph peak.  We hit our turn around time about 400 vertical feet below the top of the run, and reluctantly decided to call it a day.  The ensuing run was also superb, with good corn and interesting skiing.  The egress was a little sparky and icy, but we were at the car soon enough, reflecting on a wonderful weekend of perfect weather and good skiing with friends.

Frosty approach to Stormy Joe.  We skied the snow stripe just
looker's left of the prominent left buttress system.
Jeffrey skiing corn on Stormy Joe.
Hard at work on a steep track on St. Joseph peak.
Leah ripping on St. Joseph peak.
Brian trying to ski as well as Leah on St. Joseph peak.


  1. not sure how to post comments… do you have beta on route from Holland Lake to South Fork Flathead?

  2. So you can ski all the way to the car? I've been wondering. Thanks for posting.

  3. No Mason I don't. Jeff, you can ski out right now, kind of. There is continuous snow and ice, and the trail is passable, but even another inch of new snow would go along way toward making the ski out better. Right now you can definately get out if you take your skis off about 5 times for about 50 yards each time.

  4. Thanks Brian. Considering a ski/packraft trip this spring