Sunday, March 05, 2017

Snow good, three eclectic trips

Skiing up the Jones Creek bottom with Choteau Mountain to the east

One of the most gorgeous valleys on the Front

Finally getting some good snow and I was out in it three times in the past week:  Bender Creek to Hoover Ridge in the Little Belts, a quick run on Silver Crest Cross Country Ski Area, and a gorgeous afternoon in the Rocky Mountain Front.
Bender Creek was a compromise for Wayne Wednesday Walks old-guys group.  Four of us showed up, hoping to catch the great, new snow at Rogers Pass and possibly do Sunset Mountain again.  But....I was overruled by our group that feared the strong winds coming from the west.
Instead, we headed for Bender Creek, just east of Monarch, an area that I generally don't like because it doesn't get much snow cover and is often icy and rocky.  On Wednesday it had a little more snow than usual, but the rocks were still there, and I rocked up my skis pretty severely.  It is three miles and about 1,500 feet to Hoover Ridge.  Along the way above the creek there are great views of the peaks from open and very ski-able parks.  We played a bit in these parks and for the most part avoided the winds from the west by being in this enclosed north and east facing valley.
I skinned up on the way down to avoid getting out of control in the narrow bottoms.  I shouldn't have.  The snow was good enough to have teled down, and I missed out on that fun, just compounding my displeasure with rocking up my skis.  It turned out this was a fairly good choice, but I think we all realized that Rogers Pass would have been better.  Oh, well.
On Thursday my wife asked me to check out Silver Crest to make sure there was a passable snowshoe trail for her Big Brothers and Sisters outing on Saturday.  That took me less than an hour, and so I took off the snowshoes, put on my skis and did a 3 mile loop on pretty good snow-covered trails.  I hadn't been to Silver Crest in a number of years and was impressed with the snowshoe trail work and signs.  This is a very nice area for the less adventuresome.
On Saturday we went up the Teton Pass Ski Area to see the large amounts of snow, more than 60 inches with 12 inches new on the slopes.  We climbed the hill to the north and tele skied back down the to lodge, but felt that the snow was just too heavy to do many turns.  The sun had hit it the day before and it was heavy.  So, we went down the road to Jones Creek, which lies in a stunningly scenic valley of high peaks in all directions ---- Choteau, Guthrie to the east, Cave, Ear, Wind to the south, and the high unnamed peaks to the north and west.
It was windy, but the snow was pliable and we toured up the bottom for several miles, stopping for a lunch in brilliant sunlight.
 Bender Creek meadow

No comments: