Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Mcleod peak ski

On Mcleod.
I had a great day skiing Mcleod peak, the highest and most commanding, by leaps and bounds, peak in the Rattlesnake.  I had made a halfhearted attempt on the peak several years ago with Leah and a larger crew, but poor conditions and a less than alpine start forced a turnaround well before the peak.  Things went a lot smoother this time.  I didn't make plans to ski with others, because I had been sick, and didn't know skiing would be possible before rolling out of bed the day of. Starting from the car before sunrise, the tenor of the day was set, with beauty and wonder everywhere.  Beauty in the form of wild mountains, clear, crisp skies, and yesterday's rain drops still frozen to the trees.  Wonder in moving effortlessly over the frozen landscape and finally feeling my body turn the corner after days of sickness.
Frozen ran glittering on trees during the approach.
I had parked a few miles out from the trailhead, but the skin in was fast on packed ice, and the first mile of the trail was packed and quick.  Getting into the hanging upper East fork of Finley creek is quite terrible, with a hard-to-follow meandering trail in the drainage, and a few hundred feet of dry talus to gain the valley.  But, once in, the going was fast along the open southern edge of the creek.   Grizzly tracks got my hackles up, and I couldn't help but wonder if a rare set ski tracks would get the Grizzly's hackles up. From the head of the drainage, about ten minutes of booting put me on a high saddle, and a few hundred feet of scrappy steep skiing and traversing put me below the Southwest face of the peak.  Mcleod was easily ascended by booting the West face and Southwest ridge.
Pretty morning. Ugly approach. About two hours in, and almost to skiable snow.
Bears are out.
I had considered skiing the Northeast face, but deemed it too steep given the icy conditions, and instead skied the moderate South face to the tarn.  The top was severely icy, but it was not too steep, and I was soon cruising smooth, firm corn.  I was well ahead of schedule, and threw in a few extra short runs, climbing and skiing the adjacent east face and a nice moderate rolling run into the adjacent cirque.  The snow was firm enough to boot everything, which made the climbing very easy. After a nice lunch break on the lake, I made one final climb to re-gain access to the exit basin.  The run into the basin was once again very icy, but so it goes.  I took advantage of the firm conditions to make the flat exit in just a few minutes.  From the bottom of the hanging valley, I spent about an hour fighting steep talus, brush, and deep intermittent snow on the trail before hitting the trailhead.  The two mile road exit was all on intermittent ice which was a little sparky but very fast.  And there you have it, a remarkably smooth adventure to Mcleod peak done in 8 hours, 10 minutes with time for a pair of extra runs at a moderate-for-a-sick-guy pace.
Looking back up Mcleod's South face.
Third run.
Climbing for the fourth.
Forth run.  I took it to the lake in the background.
Fifth run out Finley creek.


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