With weakening surfaces and strong storms approaching, Hatch and I decided to get out into the alpine before stability took a turn for the worse. And yes, all you level 1 students, we know that scarcity is a human factor…but we did feel good about stability that day.
We decided to explore an area that neither one of us had done any skiing in, a spot that we had seen from Heyburn last year. A scenic 4 mile tour led us to our basin and there was the entrance to the cooler…but we still couldn’t see the top. The granite walls guarding both sides were plastered with a thin coating of snow, giving the exit a dramatic appearance. We skinned through the alpine bowl and then skiis/board went onto our back, ice axes came out and up we marched…sawtooth style…climbing our line. Skiing lines in the Sawtooths is all about ski mountaineering, there is no easy skin up the backside of your run. Often times climbing a 50 degree chute is the only, and easiest, way to get to the top!
After a little bit of winding through rock islands, and wondering where the hell this chute leads to, we topped out and turned around to another beautiful sawtooth panorama. We decided to drop in, as the weather was moving in. The thin 48-50 degree top hundred feet kept us on edge, until it opened up to a nice 40 degree wide section. We leap frogged the length of the couloir finding pockets of good snow at times and also variable funky pockets. As we descended the couloir, the massive granite walls became bigger and bigger until we exited into the wind swept alpine bowl, back into the trees with soft snow and finally into the canyon bottom.
As we left this great area the wind began picking up and the temps started rising, typical patterns of a SW flow. Both Hatch and I savored the day knowing that with the storm rolling in, and sampling the surfaces, it may be a little while before we are able to venture into the alpine again.