Sunday, December 19, 2010

Pre-Christmas trips to Front, Little Belts

Byron Wallis' hair shows how cold it was

At the South Fork Waldron head wall
Byron Wallis on S. Fork Waldron Creek Bowls Saturday.
 The snow is about perfect as we go into Christmas Week.
We skied the South Fork Waldron Creek bowls in the Front Saturday and did the Deadman run with a quick shot in the south bowls Sunday.
Temperatures were at or below zero, but mercifully, there was no wind.
It had been a couple of years since we had skied the Waldron Creek country because the roads had been left uncleared when the Teton Pass Ski Area shut down last year, cutting off access to this scenic country.
Teton Pass has reopened under new ownership and the road is as good as it has ever been.
Lucky for us the South Fork Waldron country wasn't being used by snow machines and we had it all to ourselves.  This is snowmobile country, normally.
The bowls are some 2,000 feet in elevation gain from the road and I'm told by one of our party who carries an altimeter that we put on at least another 1,500 feet yo-yoing the slopes.
The snow in this otherwise avalanche-prone country at the Teton Peak headwall was very stable, but I found myself approaching the slopes very conservatively.  Three to six inches of fresh powder sat atop a very good base.
Byron Wallis, visiting from Paris, went nearly to the ridgeline while the rest of us held our breaths as he skied the snow-loaded slopes.
This is country that we use in the summer for the so-called Lockhart Traverse ridgeline walk on the border of the Bob Marshall Wilderness Area.
We're very glad to have access to this country again.  It is probably the most scenic in the Great Falls area.
After beating ourselves up Saturday we headed for an easier ski in the Little Belts Sunday.
We had been told that O'Brien Creek was on the agenda.
However, that was changed to Deadman, a slightly longer and certainly more strenuous tour.
The snow was even deeper in here than what we found in the Front Saturday.
We dropped down into the bottom of the Deadman southernmost bowl and struggled our way out along the way.
Wayne Phillips led us down a tight and deadfall littered gully on the way out, testing our abilities to maneuver around potentially lethal obstacles.
It was a quick and lovely way to the bottom.
Jasmine Krotkov at the end of a backcountry bushwhack out of Deadman Creek run.

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