Sunday, February 10, 2013

At the Waldron headwall

Mark Hertenstein at the Waldron bowl headwall.
North Fork Waldron is a short and easy Rocky Mountain Front ski tour.
The fun begins when you emerge from the forest into this giant, scenic bowl beneath Mount Lockhart.  This area had been logged many years ago, but the trees are coming back.
The trees are small in here, evidence that avalanche regularly rakes this area.
In years past we've skied into this bowl, directly heading up what might be best described as "tiers," telemarking off these benchmarks through the new growth.
This gives an idea of the slope steepness and their openness.

Finding even this large bowl is a trick for most skiers because old logging road ends abruptly in the trees at a creek bottom.
Skiing the Waldron bottom.
The most reliable way into the bowl is to ski up the south side of the creek on a ramp that progressively rises to the south headwall.  Otherwise, the north side of the creek winds through trees and deadfall, crossing a couple of tributaries that can pull you into the wrong basin.
We took the south route Saturday and instead of dropping into the bowl when the trees opened up, we continued to climb to that headwall.
As we did we noticed exceptional telemark slopes which are probably avalanche chutes off the headwall.
The snow was quite stable, so we skinned to the top and tried them.
The slopes were about 200 feet long and in the 25-30 degree range.
The snow was perfect, about five inches on top of a good base.
The red line from the road was our route in, the blue line our route back.  We tele'd from the headwall.
+While we were there it began to snow heavily and the temperature dropped, signaling a cold front that moved through.
On the way up we passed through virgin, un-skied powder.  On the way down we hit snowshoe tracks that covered our ski tracks for the last mile.  It upset my ski-partner because that meant we had to go around what we had laid down.  It would seem that snow etiquette would have demanded that the snow-shoers leave our tracks alone.  Coming down fast we could have hit the snow-shoe tracks and gone flying.  There was plenty of room for snow-shoe tracks to parallel the cross country ski tracks.

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