Thursday, June 9, 2011

Pioneer's Part 2

Just wanted to add a little bit more detail about our trip. Let you know what to expect and look for.

Check out the Sun Valley Trekking website and get some info on their Yurt systems.
This shot is from Duncans Ridge. The big peak in the back is the Devils Bedstead.

The Pioneer Mountains is a mountain range in the U.S. state of Idaho, spanning Blaine, Butte and Custer counties.

The ten highest peaks of the range are:
Hyndman Peak 12,009 ft (3,660 m)
Goat Mountain 11,913 ft (3,631 m)
Peak 11887 11,887 ft (3,623 m)
Standhope Peak 11,878 ft (3,620 m)
Devils Bedstead East 11,865 ft (3,616 m)
Brocky Peak 11,839 ft (3,609 m)
Altair Peak 11,825 ft (3,604 m)
Old Hyndman Peak 11,775 ft (3,589 m)
Duncans Peak 11,755 ft (3,583 m)
Pegasus Peak 11,736 ft (3,577 m)

The range is bounded on the west by the Big Wood River, Trail Creek, Summit Creek, and the North Fork Big Lost River, on the north and east by the East Fork Big Lost River, Left Fork Cherry Creek, Cherry Creek, Dry Fork Creek, Saint Louis Canyon, and Champagne Creek, and on the south by the Snake River Plain.

Pioneer Yurt has opportunities for those seeking a touring experience, or when conditions permit, to ski the steep and deep. The mountains surrounding the Pioneer Yurt are ideal for ski mountaineering. Big verticle relief on shapely alpine peaks up to 12,000’ with stunning ascent and descent lines. A ski mountaineer’s nirvana!

The Pioneer Yurt is a 24 ’ diameter yurt that sleeps up to 16 people and has all the comforts you have come to expect from a cozy SVT backcountry hut: full kitchen, bunks with pads, wood and propane stoves, lanterns, library, and a great wood fired Sauna!
We approach Pioneer Yurt via Hyndman Creek off the East Fork of the Big Wood River. The ski into the yurt is roughly 6 miles and gains about 2000’ in elevation. The trip can be done in four to six hours by an average group of skiers. The area around the yurt is closed to snowmobiles before March 15th. Up until March 15, snowmobiles may be used to approach the first 5 miles to the yurt and after March 15th, may be used to get right to the yurt.

If you come in the spring expect water crossings and wet heavy snow in the low elevations on your trek up to the Yurt.

As you can see we didn't have much snow to work with on the first half of the trail.

The crew working their way up the west ridge of Cobb mountain.

We called this peak No Name because on the maps we had it didn't have a name.

It's on the check list for the next trip into the Pioneer's.

Mckenna getting the first track down the Comma Couloir down Cobb.
Axel carving his name in Cobb mountain.
Back on the deck of the Pio Yurt just chilling.

I think this was one moring when we had pancakes. We had cake coma and had to take naps before going out to tour.

Realy nice and open space for our crew of seven.

Steph skiing back to the Yurt after a little jump session.

Hyndman Peak, the highest in the range at 12009 feet, was on the list.

Our group spread out and put tracks down all of the four major shots.

This is a great place to come ski. Check it out if you get a chance.

Peace Crossman

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Jewell Mountain, June 6, 2011

Jewell Glacier (Girdwood area) condition update:

The skiing is great! The road and trail head are free from snow. I was able to walk to the cabin ruins at the old terminal moraine of the Jewell in hiking shoes. The snow is continuous above this point and looked as if it would link with the Raven. There is 3" of new snow (from Saturday night) above 3,800'. The new snow is slush-puppy quality, but it is white and fast. Last night the temperature dropped to 30°F at 3,500'. This AM (June 7) I skied down to 2,300' with minimal portaging using a network of gullies and questionable decision making.

Ragged Top on the Left

Upper Jewell Mountain

The "50 Hikes in Alaska's Chugach State Park" book has detailed information regarding Jewell Mountain (Hike 46).

- U.K.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Falls Creek: June 5, 2011

I never tour with an ipod, but there is constantly music running through my head. What song would best fit this moment? This sunburst, this send, this booter, this reflection, this sunrise, this wind storm, pealing skins, face shots, ice, powder, crud, slush, wind, rain, whiteout, serene, aggressive, peaceful. Music everywhere. It punctuates and compliments what lays before me. It can be in the background or it can dominate my experience. It may get awfully quiet, but it is always there if I listen for it.

The Noodler tipped me off to a couloir up Falls Creek. His directions were probably excellent, but I wasn't really paying attention. But as fate would have it, I ended up in the recommended shot. It really doesn't come as a surprise, after 12 seasons of touring together he knows my tastes: steep and narrow with a good runout. And when I rounded the bend and looked up into the cirque, I knew this must be the place.

On the Left (Home? Really?)

It looked intrasante. Muy intrasante. Steep. Check. Narrow. Yeah, but maybe too narrow? Good runout. Check. She earned a closer look. No sense turning around without getting all the facts.

She'd be too narrow to slide-slip, but not overly steep. It was on the shady end of my comfort zone. Regret was not an option. The lower angle approach had completed the transition to summer snow: shallow sun-cups with soft crests. The steeps were a bit softer and I expected that aggressive turns would begin a chain reaction which would conclude with the top 3" of the entire chute being relocated to the runout. Like The Jeffesons, but in reverse.

From the Top

It was time to focus. Get psyched. The crux was about 3' wide and was 150' vertical above the runout. The entire couloir never got wider than 10' and the top layer would be nipping at my heals. I knew what had to be done. With playlist on very temporary pause, the skis accelerated into the fall-line.

The Devil Wants to Eat You

Ski like Satan's after you, boy! Every muscle was working in concert; the walls blurred. The next turn was in sharp focus. "You got this!" The crux was bearing down on me and was in my lap and then over my shoulder and then the runout followed by a very specific crush of music and release of endorphins and adrenaline followed directly by Whitman's barbaric yawp!

And from across the valley, a kindred spirit reciprocated with an enthusiastic yawp of her own.

- U.K.