Sunday, March 04, 2018

A CDT treat: backcountry ski Rogers Pass to Cadotte Pass

We are so blessed to be just an hour's drive from the Continental Divide Trail at Rogers Pass.
I was doubly-blessed Saturday to be able to ski that trail from Rogers to Cadotte Pass in deep powder on a bluebird day, with relatively light wind.
I've tried this a number of times before, but have always been blocked by high winds that strip the snow from the ridgeline and hardens any remainder to concrete.  That has meant that we have skied the Rogers Peak side many times.
The circumstances of the ski trip were fortuitous;  a dump of snow overnight that wasn't to be blown about.
We used the CDT from the pass, but had to scale a wall of snow plowed back by the Montana Department of Transportation, which has been doing a great job clearing the roads and passes this extremely snowy and cold winter.
We skinned to the top, veering from the trail to the south, topping a high point on the ridgeline above Cadotte Creek.  This offered amazing views to the Rocky Mountain Front, Red Mountain, the highest point in the Bob Marshall/Scapegoat/Great Bear wilderness complex, and the Great Plains.
We skied the rest of the day without skins, occasionally dropping off the ridge for tele turns in terrific powder.
We went as far as the high point just above Cadotte Pass, traveling 6.5 miles roundtrip and gaining and losing 2,100 feet of elevation when the tele stops are thrown in.
On the way back after several long tele runs, we veered to the south across a small streambed and found the best powder of the day on the shaded, steep and thinly timbered hillside.
My friend, Mark Hertenstein made turns to the bottom about 800 feet below, while my legs crapped out and but for a few stretches had to traverse rather than drop.  Guess I'm getting old and weak!
I'm not sure why the Rogers Pass area is not a mecca for backcountry skiers, like Marias Pass south of Glacier Park.
When it's not good at the pass we can usually find great skiing in Cadotte Creek on the westside a few miles south or up Meadow Creek where there's mine reclamation work going on and the road is plowed.

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