Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Just another "Beyond Gash" tour

When Kyle invited me along on a Sky Pilot tour, I asked if we could head north instead of south from the top of Gash point, taking advantage of good low elevation snow and upping the adventure quotient several notches.  Everyone was in, and we were skinning from the car at first light, less than 24 hours later.
Gash view out to Hidden lake peak, visible on the left, and the south couloir on Glenn lake point.
After attempting and failing to push out a stuck car (there is too much snow to drive to the lower Gash trailhead), we motored up to near the top of Gash point proper and skied the speed chute on our way into Sweathouse.  Everyone was on board with checking out the Mystery chutes, so we made the devious climb to the top.  We found some surprising fresh wind slabs along the way, but felt comfortable proceeding after a group discussion and slightly modifying the ski line into the chute. The Mystery chute was about as good as I could have hoped for, with nice settled powder in the gut of the chute, and just enough snow in the apron to make the whole line ski well.  After a bit of brush bashing, we crossed Sweathouse creek, slapped on skins, and made a short climb to the sun for a lunch break.
Kyle breaking trail in front of the Sweathouse spires.
Even though snow quality was bound to be poor, Kyle was still fired up about climbing Hidden Lake peak, and I love pushing deep into the wilderness, so we swapped trailbreaking leads up the 2,500 South face. Minot hung in there, and we were soon at the point of highest snow just below the summit.  The skiing down the south face was poor, but it was a good re-introduction to sub optimal conditions, and we were soon back at the creek preparing for the long climb back to the top of Gash point.  The climb out took longer than expected.  We had some skin failures, and ended up not topping out until dark.  Fortunately everyone made it intact, and we stuck close together on the ski out to the car, since any error would turn a marginal situation into a dangerous one very quickly.
Minot climbing in front of the Mystery chutes. We skied the central line from the high point.

Thumbs up.  Kyle approaching our high point on Hidden lake peak.
Sunset on the climb out of Gash, bracing for a ski out by headlamp.

 We returned to the car tired and cold.  And fired up for another big day in the mountains, since conditions are so good at the moment.  Of note, there has been wind over the past day or two, and avalanche danger was Moderate (not Low) today on wind loaded slopes.  We didn't trigger anything, but had to devote more thought and discussion to snow safety than I had anticipated going into the day.  A good reminder to keep your eyes peeled out there. For stats, right around 10,000 vertical feet done in 12 hours car to car.
Approximate route.

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