Sunday, January 30, 2011

Montana Skiing

Max skinning up to East Boulder Photo by Matt Morgan

After saying goodbye to friends and family in NB I was on my way west. After 3 1/2 days of driving I made to to Missoula Montana to visit and ski tour with my friends Matt and Alli.

Matt was my roommate when I did the Canadian Outdoor Leadership Training Program in 2003 and we have been on many adventures since.

I arrived at about 2:30pm friday and as soon as I walked into the door Matt said we have a few options for skiing this weekend..... there was know hey how's it going it was all business. So we decided to head into the Bitterroot Wilderness and ski a 4000ft line on East Boulder Mountain.

The Bitterroot Wilderness is public land located in mid-western Montana and is managed by the US Forest Service. If you're ever in there area it is a great place to visit and do a multi-day trip. A couple areas in the Bitterroot to make note of are: Blogett Canyon an amazing granite alpine climbing destination, Trapper Peak another great alpine climbing spot and hike or ski into the Boulder Creek trail (this is where we were).

One other thing you should know about the Bitterroot is that the approaches are long and the skin out can be a brutal when the snow hasn't filled in the creek. You definitely earn your adventure. Fortunately we had good conditions.
Matty boot packing Photo by Max Fisher

At 5am Saturday morning we got up ate breakfast and loaded into the car for the 2hr drive to the Boulder Creek trail head. Once there we made our up to Boulder Point and up the ridge to East Boulder Peak about 5000ft vertical gain. The weather and views were fantastic. It took use 5hrs to get to the top of the couloir we wanted to descend.

Matty on the ridge of East Boulder Photo by Max Fisher
      Max hiking on ridge Photo by Matt Morgan
Matty on the ridge Photo by Max Fisher
    Max climbing down to the rappel Photo by Matt Morgan
Max climbing down Photo by Matt Morgan

We scouted things out and had to do a short rappel into the couloir to a point where we could put on our ski's and board. We checked the snow pack and found it to be extremely well bonded and were very confident nothing was going to slide on us. The decent was 4000ft of variable snow conditions with the lower half having the best snow.

     Max getting on rappel Photo by Matt Morgan
        Max rappelling Photo by Matt Morgan
Matty rappelling Photo by Max Fisher
Coiling the rope Photo by Matt Morgan
       Matty exiting the pinch at the top of the couloir Photo by Max Fisher
  Max exiting the bottom on the couloir Photo by Matt Morgan
    Max getting some turns Photo by Matt Morgan
      Matty rippin' it with our couloir in the back ground Photo by Max Fisher
Matty again!! Photo by Max Fisher
Matty enjoying the turns Photo by Max Fisher 
Our couloir is in the middle. There is a right pinch that doesn't look like it has snow we descended that one. Best ski mountaineering day I have had! Photo by Matt Morgan

Max on the way down Photo by Matt Morgan

When Matt and I got to the bottom we filled up on creek water, found the trail and skied out to the car. We arrived at the car just before dark, loaded our stuff, headed for Missoula to have burrito's with Alli, and dry our stuff out for another day of skiing in the slack country at the local ski hill Snow Bowl.

Skinning out Photo by Matt Morgan

After and early night and a great sleep we where up at the hill by 8:30am. Matt and I skinned up the hill and meet Alli at the top at 10:30am.... she had things she had to do before coming up. We snaked 2 quick free runs on the upper lift and then headed for the slack country. Oh I forgot to mention the hill got 20cm overnight and was still snowing when we arrived and left.

We skinned over and skied Another World, a fun pitch with really nice snow. We skinned back up for another run this Time on 3 Tier which for me were my best turns of the day. Our last run in Snow Bowl slack country was down Jenny Bowl. A quick skin back up to the hill and down to the Bar for pizza.

 Max in the goods! Photo by Matt Morgan
 A little deeper in the goods! Matt Morgan
Alli kickin' it!! Photo by Matt Morgan

What do you get when you have 20-30cm of fresh powder snow + good friends + pizza + beer???

Thanks to Matt and Alli for letting me sleep on the futon and go skiing with them the past few days.... love you guys!

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