Monday, March 11, 2019

Making the best of a break in the weather

Pillows of snow coming down a drainage off Deadman to US 89

We did yo-yo tele trips up and down this slope off Cadotte Creek

Coming off the Deadman bowls on a perfect snow day
After 32 days where the thermometer never broke freezing and a February that averaged below zero, we finally got a break in the weather, albeit temps in the teens and 20s.
I took full advantage this past week with multiple backcountry ski and telemark trips including another Cadotte Gulches 2 and 3 traverse, the Trail 747 Porphyry Peak traverse in the Little Belts, MacDonald Pass cross country ski area on the Continental Divide west of Helena, and a modified Deadman run in the Little Belts.
Perhaps the most noteworthy was the Deadman run, a real favorite that travels down a north-south ridge from Kings Hill Pass to Deadman.
I didn't have much energy for this trip, so I decided I would cut it short at the Deadman Road and come down a steep drainage to US 89, cutting off almost two miles of the run, but allowing me some real backcountry in steep terrain on a gorgeous, narrow bottom with tons of snow.
I hadn't really planned on this trip, setting off instead to do a short loop from the pass, so when I got to the bottom, some 4.25 miles from the pass I was without a ride back up.  I had been lured into the longer ski by tremendous snow and gorgeous, blue skies. I tried hitchhiking, but the cars going from White Sulphur Springs to the pass were sparse and no one was willing to pick me up. That's when I checked my GPS and estimated it was 4.25 miles and 1,100 elevation gain back to the pass.
I was able to get on top a snow berm created by the snowplows and with a strong wind to my back slogged three hours up to the pass.  When I was finished I had gained about 2,000 feet and put in 10 miles on this total trip and was exhausted.
While this is doable, I don't recommend it, although the snow was perfect and I had gotten in numerous turns.
I hadn't done MacDonald Pass ski area in more than 10 years and was pleasantly surprised by the snow there and climbed the powerline up to the microwave tower, some two miles and almost 1,000 feet up.  The snow was in great condition for the telemark trip back down.
On the Cadotte traverse, we did it with Wayne's Wednesday group and in reverse from the way Mark Hertenstein and I had done it a week previous.  We encountered high winds, but spent considerable time in the final stretch yo-yoing a telemark slope.
On the 747 traverse of Porphyry I fell victim to being pulled down a steep drainage when I lost the trail, coming out about a mile from the trailhead.  The snow was perfect.
You might note that I said the snow was perfect on each of these four trips.
We've had to wait for the weather to break, but it seems as though the wait was worth it.

No comments: