Sunday, February 26, 2017

Lots of odd snow for Nugget Creek run

The Nugget Creek route in Little Belts
So, here's the report on northcentral Montana's backcountry snow:  lots of new powder on top a crust that encases at least a foot of sugar snow that never set up.
As we skied Nugget Creek in the Little Belts Wednesday we could punch our poles through the various layers to the ground.
The snow on the bottom, deposited in December, just never set up because of the bitter-cold weather.
That was followed by more snow that was encased in the ice from a hard Chinook melt and some rain.  Then this week's powder ---- more than a foot over three days ---- Sunday to Wednesday and more coming.
This is the oddest ski season I've encountered.
On Mizpah Ridge below Mizpah Peak (Gordon Whirry photo)
When we could stay on the top of the crust it was great kick and glide skiing.  But, the crust would occasionally collapse and send us to the ground.  Yes, there was some "whoomphing" that cautioned us not to get on any steep slopes.  If we got going too fast telemarking a slope we'd often run into a wall of that collapsed snow that had the effect of running into large vat of mashed potatoes.
Nugget Creek is the Wayne Phillips' created alternative to the Porphyry/Ranch Creek run.  We call it simply "High Porphyry" or "Nugget Creek."
Once Ranch Creek headwall is reached, instead of dropping to the road, Nugget Creek ascends a 300 foot ridge and then drops south and east ultimately to Highway 89 at Mile Marker 123.
It covers 10.3 miles, rises 1,700 feet and drops nearly 2,900 feet.  It starts at Kings Hill Pass, goes up Showdown Ski area to the top of Porphyry Peak, across the ridge to Mizpah and then on to the Ranch Creek headwall.
Yes, we got some turns in and enjoyed a gorgeous, if cold and snowy winter day, but the snow was weird.


Rod Benson said...

Tom - I've gone out to Stemple Pass the last two weekends. Its been great for snowshoeing. Last weekend we did Stemple to Granite Butte and then yesterday, we did Stemple to Crater Mtn. - great snow for shoeing (4-6 inches on top of a good base). Here's my post about the Granite Butte hike and sleepover. -Rod

Tom Kotynski said...

Thanks for the tip, Rod. I had seen your post. We had a terrific ski up to Sunset Mountain east of Rogers Pass Sunday. Will do again Wednesday with our old guys group.