Monday, November 12, 2012

Backcountry ski season arrives

Neihart Baldy and Long peaks dominate the horizon on our ski
Great Falls got pounded late last week with more than 14 inches snow, which also whitened the mountains in all directions around the city.
It was deep enough that skiing was good in city parks, and I enjoyed some old skinny skiing around Russell Park on Saturday.
Sunday dawned quite cold and we headed to the Little Belts for a little recon.
An old ranch shed
The sky was a bright blue and about 17 degrees when we left Great Falls.
At Kings Hill Pass it was overcast and the temperature was 7 degrees with a stiff southwest wind.
We headed back down the hill and hit the Harley Creek Road.
Cross country skiers had skied probably on Saturday, doing the first mile and a half or so.
This is a road that gets lots of use later in the season by snowmobilers.  Lucky for us there were none on Sunday, nor were there any hunters.
Our object was to get to Divide Road, which we achieved.
We stayed very close to the creek where the snow was better.
High grass showed through the snow.
We also had to dodge rocks.
Frosty Belt Creek at Harley Creek junction
Therefore, what turns we made were wide and shallow.
We skied the ridge line from Divide, looking out north over the wide open Belt Park, east toward the high peaks like Neihart Baldy and Long, with Big Baldy peaking out from time to time from its wreath of clouds.
Then we decided to head off road through the trees into a gully where we lost the 1,500 feet we had gained. We had to take off our skis for much of the descent although I made a major mistake putting mine back on and then leaving them on too long.  They were predictably rocked up.  At least I wore my rock skis.

Our Harley Creek route

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