|Larry Winslow on North Fork Waldron trip|
The snow is good (and still coming) and the weather is….well, spring-like.
Waldron Creek, located near the Teton Pass Ski Area northwest of Choteau, is a great way to get introduced to backcountry skiing.
It involves about 800-1,000 feet of vertical gain along a heavily timbered trail that had once been a logging road into a great basin beneath the Mount Lockhart ridgeline and headwall.
In about two miles the trail peters out and it’s a hunting expedition through the trees to the basin, and some pretty good telemark opportunities and great lunch spots.
From the basin you can see evidence of massive avalanche slides and downed trees and to the east on the horizon the hulking Choteau Mountain.
This has always been a favorite spot for me because of its isolation, and harsh and spectacular beauty.
I was surprised that my friend and former colleague Larry Winslow and I were the first and only skiers into this area on Sunday.
The snow conditions were ideal for spring, a bit on the moist and icy sides, but very good. At least they were better than a week ago before the waves of moisture began hitting the mountains.
Waldron Creek is a tributary of the Teton River and winds its way through a tight, steep valley.
Once in the basin, it is always wise to check avalanche conditions. If favorable, you can proceed up progressive “benches” to telemark spots, ultimately to the top of the headwall itself.
A parallel ridge separates the Waldron Creek from its South Fork, which is dominated by snowmobilers. We were fortunate to hit that a week ago after the new snow before the snow machines got in there.
While the main Waldron Creek cross country trail is beautiful, we found even better telemark skiing in the South Fork,
During the summer we use the South Fork as our approach to climbing Teton peak, probably the fastest and easiest way to get this nice bump on a ridgeline that extends from Baldy Mountain via Route Creek Pass to Mount Lockhart, a distance of about 10 miles --- a super traverse!
The Waldron Creek backcountry ski trail may also be reached by way of the ski area by following the blue diamonds on the southern-most run uphill. It cuts south and west through the trees and joins the trail/logging road in less than a mile.