Thursday, April 21, 2016

Camas to North Fork Lost Horse Creek

With snowline marching up the mountainsides and a barely-freezing-at-night-scorching-during-the-day forecast, I cajoled Ben and Leah into a 4 am start to do a Camas/North fork loop before the snowpack fell apart.  We ended up having a fantastic morning.  I dropped Leah and Ben off at snowline on Camas, then drove and jogged the shuttle.  By incorporating a tempo effort into the run portion of the shuttle, I was able to catch them below Camas lake, and we all cruised up to West Camas peak 8905 by high noon.  The only bummer about the approach was seeing the entire drainage shredded by snowmobile traffic.
Leah and Ben nearing West Camas peak.
Since the snow was still intact, and it was to be a one run day, we took our time on the summit before dropping the 3,000 vertical foot BRIBE gully (Best Run in Bitterroot Ever) in sticky but otherwise tasty corn snow.  Intermittent snow during the exit slowed us a bit, but we had all day to negotiate it, and the going was never too bad.  Once we were back on the North fork of Lost Horse trail proper, it was just long slog down the faint trail and Lost Horse road back to the car. Every additional day that Leah gets to ski is a successful day in my book, and it is always good to get out with Ben. By the numbers, one classic ski run and about 4,500 feet of climbing in about 9 hours  at a casual pace with lots of breaks.
Skiing the top of the BRIBE gully.
Ben about half way down.
Things getting interesting on the exit.  We had about 30 minutes of
challenging intermittent snow before switching to easy hiking.
While this was a relatively short and perhaps not “blog worthy” outing, I chose to post because it is a worthy loop for Bitterroot skiers to consider.  There are multiple south facing runs off the back side of West Camas, and the runs further up the drainage are some of the better peak to creek lines in the range.  Beware of avalanches in winter, of course.  It would be easy to tack another run or two along the way to make it a longer day. There is a substantial shuttle from Camas to Lost Horse creek, but the entire loop could be done on foot by parking somewhere between the National Forest boundary and the Lost Horse climbing parking area, and approaching Camas via cross country travel and the southerly Camas road (Note: this is not the standard access road for Camas creek, it is the one that peels off left at the mouth of the standard Camas road).  At the end of the day, just slog a few extra miles back to the car and Boom, you have just completed a nice big loop through the beautiful Camas drainage.

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