Wish I Had Said That

"I learned long ago not to be intimidated by an absence of difficulty"
- John Gill

"Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and it never will."-Frederick Douglass

"If my thought dreams could be seen, they'd probably put my head in a guillotine"-Bob Dylan

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Sense of Place

Pounding the powder for three days at Hebgen and Quake lakes. It snowed everyday. Really did not have time for taking photos and the light was continually flat. That is the price you pay sometimes for skiing powder.

Getting into it...

...Camera not set-up for action photography....

...Playing around in the middle of a 1800' run

The mini-vacation is over. Time to fix some gear and get ready.

Friday, February 18, 2011

I'm not a ski bum

Don't call me that.

The past week has been dedicated to resting my frostbitten big toe for the first time in awhile. Progress is being made. Skipped all the wind/powder skiing since last week. Focusing on the job effort. Got a car that I'm getting going: '87 Suby. Like I do. Should be ready by Mon./Tue..

Its time to go skiing. Plans are hatched for more mega-sized ski tours and line-slaying these upcoming months. Beartooths/Tetons/Winds are being worked on along with a longer traverse (Mt. Holmes to Electric Peak?). Roger's Pass perhaps?

Climbing continues. Slowly. All minor/annoying injuries have been healed. Grip strength low. Leg power high. I must abide the plastic winter overlord more.

Welcome back to town Sam M.. Can't wait to hear and see about the travels.


Saturday, February 12, 2011

Safety Meeting along the Deer Lake Ridge Traverse

Plenty of days for adventure in the mountains around southwest Montana exist in my universe. During the first week of February I took the time to revisit a tour I had gone on solo during my first spring in Montana, The Deer Lake Basin Traverse. Whereas six years ago I had been stymied by mass quantities of glob and a lack of endurance, this time around the mountains opened their passages to me in a kind fashion. Solo again I set off at the moderate hour of 8:30 in the morning. The tour basically consists of trekking up the first 3 or 4 miles of the Deer Lake trail out of Gallatin Canyon. Table Mountain is the first peak to ascent followed by a joyful traverse across 3 unnamed 10,000+ peaks and then a long eastward traverse on the Dudley Creek/Deer Lake divide with a steep north-facing ski run down to the mouth of the Deer Lake Basin.

Atop Table Mountain looking down at the start.

Looking southwards from Table's broad summit plateau the horizon opens up to one's eyes. Across the way I see the ski crux of the day. Picked out a fun, most challenging, and slightly safe line. A 600' exposed slope with a max pitch of 35ish degrees ending in a cliffband containing a group of several 45 degree couloirs of 400' length.

Looking at the ski "crux" of the traverse (The Sphinx in the background)

After some orientation on Table Mountain I headed off to the southwest.

Looking into the Spanish Peaks. From left to right: Jumbo Mountain, Beehive Peak, Blaze Mountain, and Gallatin Peak (in cloud).
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The wind was my constant companion as a small 400' ski brought me to a 1000' ascent to the first of three peaks forming the headwall of Deer Basin. Skis were taken on and off for the next several hours. Amazing views all around infringe their starkness on my retinas, the camera has become a secondary recording device to the neurons within my brain. The wind and clouds threaten to close down the visibility but nothing serious crops up.

Little ole' Lone Peak. The second ridgeline in from the foreground is the Dudley Creek/Deer Lake Divide.
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Looking back from the top of the divide peak between South Fork Hellroaring Creek, Cascade Creek and Deer Basin.
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Onward. From the same peak as previous photo. Some technical skiing to some sweet scrambling, all kinda exposed. Wilson Peak in the mid-ground with Dudley Peak along its ridge to the east.
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Eliminate climbing, choosing my own challenges. Stayed primarily on the rocks, at over a billion years old I tend to trust them.
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The traversing was taking some toll on me, mainly punching through faceted snow and banging my body parts on the mountains' spines. Alas the weather was looking bleaker and I had only an hour till the sun sank itself. To paraphrase the late Derek Hersey "wow this is cool, time to move on". So I move on with a quickened physical pace and the same smooth mental focus as 6 hours ago.

Darkness descends. The Taylor-Hilgards pulsate from the south.
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The camera was shuddered for the traverse to the skiing finale. After several ups and downs and transitions some skiing was at hand. After a initial ski-cut of the entrance to the top pitch, I charged headlong into some boot-top powder. Poking around along the bench above the cliffband I found one of the suitable couloirs and ski-cut it as well. Out-skied my sluff and eased into the runout zone ending in a quagmire of spruce/fir forest in the bottom. Quickly found where I had gone off-trail to skin up Table Mountain and was able to jam out the highway in under a half-hour.

Good times.