Friday, December 9, 2011

First Trip to the Copper Area.

We took a trip up to Bull Trout and skied the North side and the SE side. Pretty good coverage for the first week of December. The picture above shows Copper. The top is pretty bare, but I hear that the snow on the other side is pretty awesome! Hike up and over and get back to me!

We skinned up and over and decided to ski one of the North side shots since it was stable and the snow was quite a bit better.

It's a fun shot that puts you out on the other side, but it's a fairly easy traverse back around. The turns were the best that I've had all year!

The turns are there if you want them and it wouldn't be a wasted trip. Get up there and get after it!!!

Friday, October 28, 2011

2011 Adopt-a-Crag

We helped to clean up the Black Cliffs this past weekend.  We also helped to fix some erosion issues.  There was a nice turn out.  The Boise Climbers Alliance did a great some of organizing the event.  I hope to get out this weekend and enjoy some of our work!

Monday, October 10, 2011

Burnt River

As some recovery from my Borah trip, we hit up some sweet Oregon limestone.  We made the approach to the French Gulch spire.  We racked up a couple of pitches before the sun warmed up a couple of hornet's nests and they wouldn't leave us alone.

We didn't climb anything harder than 5.9.  Which was perfectly fine with me!  We retreated down to the car and had lunch.  I admired some climbs across the river on the Timewave Wall which are currently not accessible due to the river being up.  This is the highest I've seen the Burnt river in October.  I also spotted an apple tree chocked full of apples!  I noticed this before at some of the possible miner's homesites.  By the time the river is down, the apples will probably have fallen.

After lunch, we climbed two more pitches on the French Gulch slab.  It has three climbs (5.8+, 10-, 5.7) on it and it's very close to the parking area.  The weather started to turn cool, so we packed it in.  I was very happy to have to put on a long sleeve!

A lot of the climbs out here that were put up awhile ago have SMC hangers and extremely small chains to lower off of.  Felco's Demise (5.8+) on the Slab is especially sketchy.  The anchors are showing some rust.  Every time I rap off of it, I think that I need to upgrade them to some new hangers and chains.  Then, I forget and we come out again with nothing to upgrade with!  With a drill, $50 in hangers and bolts I can upgrade the Slab and give the two right climbs their own anchors.  Then there wouldn't be a goofy 15 foot traverse to Felco's anchor.    Going a step more, a few pressure treated boards and some concrete stakes would make a couple of staging areas on the climbs up on the spire a lot nicer for the belayer.  Maybe next time!  I really like Burnt River and hope that others can come out to enjoy it, too.  There is enough limestone to make it a true destination.  It's an easy 2 hours from Boise and makes a great day trip.  The best seasons are when it's too early for the snakes and ticks, and then when gets cold enough to keep the snakes and ticks at bay.  It's not that bad!

Monday, October 3, 2011

Borah "Hidden Couloir"

Bob Boyles told me about a possible line on Borah and since I knew the face was in great shape from just being up there, Bob Jahn and I made plans to climb it this last weekend.  We ended up adjusting our date since the weather models were showing the possibility of some precip moving in on Saturday.  We decided on Friday.  We left Boise on Thursday and made it to Rock Creek before it was dark.  We organized and packed.  We did it in a day from Rock Creek back to Rock Creek so we were pretty light on gear.  It would have been fun to camp up at the upper cirque and maybe even have had a porter to haul our stuff out while we climbed up and over.  But... that's not my style.  I hate camping.  I don't mind a bivy (if forced, not planned).  I like the modern ethos of "Light and Fast".  I might not always get the "Fast", but I am usually pretty "Light"!  If there's a possibility of doing something car to car, I will give it a go.

The notch to the upper cirque was snow-free and a lot more different from when we were last here.  We tanked up on water at the outlet.  That was the last water we would see until we drank out of the Solar Shower back at the van.  The slog up the lower flank was slower than I thought.  It was hard to pass the "Standard" route up and move on to something we couldn't see yet.  But, just like Bob Boyles said, the route appeared from around a fold in the mountain.  It was sheltered and started in ice.  It would be ice from the bottom of the couloir to the top of the East Ridge.

We simul-climbed about two pitches to start.  The angle started to kick back and then we pitched out about five more pitches.  The ice is THICK in the coolie and only calved some plates in a few spots.  Just as I was about to run out of rope, a pull-out to a ledge would appear and offer up a nice belay spot.  It was a well designed route.  If I believed in God, I would say he was an ice climber.

The climbing was solid.  There were only a few spots where there were bulges of steeper ice, so hence the grading (at the time/conditions) of AI3-.  I had looked at Bob's route photo and was concerned about a possible rock band that looked very steep that might be blocking the route.  It ended up having a sliver of ice cut through and went beautifully.

After that, we were on the "Skyledge" that goes all the way to the main route.  Cool.  We passed up a final pitch and arched like a sickle to the East Ridge route.  We stashed the rope and started climbing. 

We had to rope up for the final couloir.  It was a brutal pitch!  Best one of the day, in my opinion!  It was a runnel of super solid ice in a vertical fissure.  It ended with a M3 move over a chockstone with a small nut 10 feet down for pro.  I ran out of rope and brought Bob up.  I stashed the rope and we climbed the last 100 feet right to the summit.  I was very pleased that there were no people up there.  We started down and almost made it to the treeline and the lights went out.  We cut back to Rock Creek at the knob where the main trail cuts hard left.  Since it was darker than a well-diggers ass, we used all the altimeter, map, compass and watch techniques not to end up going too far into the upper drainages that go into Rock Creek.  We busted out almost right at the dam.  We were back at the van drinking beer and shower water and eating chips with no salsa before Midnight.  We took the Stanley loop back home and stopped at the Stanley Baking Co. and had breakfast.  It was a great trip.  Thank you to Mr. Boyles for the inspiration to get on something different!

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Idaho and Nevada Classics are in the bag!

I hesitate to mention anything.   But anyway, I got the book "50 Classic Ski Descents of North America" from Matt Leidecker and wanted to ski all the ones in Idaho in a year.  Then it just so happened that one in Nevada was only a day away.  I skied Moran in WY the year before.  Then I thought, "Man, this is fun!  I should try to ski as many as possible!"  I was thumbing through and noticed the prologue.  It said that some people will use this book as a tick list.  I thought that it was a cool concept.

50 Classic Ski Descents of North America from art burrows on Vimeo.

Next year will hopefully bring some in Washington, Colorado and Wyoming.  Maybe Oregon.  I missed the window on Hood this year.   We'll see what the snowpack does.  I really would like another year like this one!  I really don't know where I'll be in a year, or two, or three.  I just want to take it one ski line at a time!

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Devil's Bedstead (East)

Devil's Bedstead (11,865')

Bob had called on Thursday and wanted to do something on Friday.  I told him that I had been planning on skiing the Devil's Bedstead.  He said that that would work for something to do.

The drive was less eventful than I thought it would be.  Trail Creek road is in excellent condition, as was Kane Creek road.  We were able to make it in to the creek fords.  We parked and started in shoes from here.  By the way, on the map below, I call Kane Creek a river.  It's not. 

All the major creek crossings are bridged.  The trail is very well maintained and we encountered no major deadfall.  


Eventually you start up a steep treed ridge.  There is a faint trail all the way to the DBE basin.  We didn't hit snow that we could skin on until around 9,000'.  After that, it was a very straightforward climb.

At the top, we transitioned, ate a PB&J sandwich and started down the face.

The top was breakable crust.  Then for about 100 feet it was hardpack.  After all that, it turned to glorious corn!  In perfect conditions, this would by far be my favorite Idaho classic descent!  The choice of lines is amazing.  I stayed in the center until the lower rock bands and then traversed skier's right.

The trip out was difficult due to the bottomless slush lower down.  Eventually we were back at the Suby and inching out Kane Creek road.  To make it a perfect day, we stopped and had a burrito at KB's!

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Bench to Fishhook Ski Traverse

Mark, Jared, Chris and I started at the main trailhead at around 8 a.m. and took the Bench Lakes trail.  We walked in ski boots for a mile or so.  There is a lot of snow left up in the Sawtooths, but the trails are choked with debris in the lower elevations where there is no snow.

We skinned past the trail to the lower Bench lake and continued onward and upward.  We then booted across the narrow ridge below the Thumb.

Almost to the Thumb!

The snow was very nice all the way to the lake.  Excellent turns were enjoyed by all!  At the lake we transitioned back to skins and started a traverse to meet up with the top of the Gun Barrel couloir.

Turns down from the Thumb

En route to the top of The Gun Barrel

In no time we were sitting at the top of The Gun Barrel eating lunch.  We were all very surprised by the weather.  There were clouds threatening us all day, but none ever encroached our blue sky.  I was the lucky one to drop into the couloir first.  The top third was glorious.  The middle third was filled with chunder from the walls.  The lower third was once again glorious.

The Gun Barrel

The fun was over and the work began.  We skied as far as we could down the Fishhook.  We were where the trail began when we transitioned to boots.  The "trail" was about as easy to follow as ant tracks across the sidewalk.  As three of us wandered into a swamp, Mark walked over to the trail.  Once on the trail, we made really good time.  We were back to the trailhead before 6 p.m.  I hate to sound cliche', but it was truly another great day in the Alpine!

McGown N. Couloir (April 30th)

Jared, Chris, Bob and I skied this beauty on McGown.  Snow conditions on the way up were perfect.  We were all dreaming of the turns on the way down.  But alas, the sun touched our line and dashed the hope of excellent snow.  No worries.  It was still nice.

Since we had four people we ran a peloton up and it was nice to not get too worked booting up.  It was good to save some energy for the skin out on the flat road back to the van.

Monday, April 25, 2011

The Sickle.

Skied the Sickle Couloir off of the shoulder of Horstmann on Saturday.  Great weather all day.  It was a long slog due to the road still being buried.  It was worth it.

It's a classic steep line that I am glad to have been able to do this year.  Some friends slogged into it last week and nailed it and so I was lucky to have inside information that it was good to go!  Thanks!

There's a few more classics on the list this year.  As my friend Bob says, "It's better to be lucky than good!"  I hope he's right!

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Terminal Cancer Couloir

After watching the weather for the last two weeks, I decided that yesterday would be the best opportunity to go down to the Ruby mountains and ski the TC couloir.  I have never been in the Rubies.  There seems to be a lot of motorized recreation.  In fact, we were the only backcountry skiers NOT using a helicopter.

Here is the trailhead.  There are so many coolies to explore here that if I lived here, my car would be here a lot!

The approach to this classic line is less than 15 minutes from the car.  It's on the buttress to the lookers right.

The depth of the snow made for a brutal booter, but awesome descent.

The view from the road is deceptive.  The line appears very steep, but is not more than 35 degrees and is very consistent.  I was pleased.  The other funny expectation I had was that it was going to end in a dramatic saddle, kinda like most Sawtooth coolies.  You get to the top and there is another MUCH larger mountain RIGHT behind it.

Bob wanted me to take a picture of him crossing the creek.  Most people don't want a camera around when crossing a water feature in ski boots.  I obliged, but he never fell in as per our agreement.

We did it as a day-trip.  It made for a long day, but I think it was worth it to ski the line in good condition.  I highly recommend it.  I will even go down there with you...  if you drive.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

More Bull Trout Point

The conditions allowed us to ski some of the North side of Bull Trout on Saturday.  Excellent snow.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Bull Trout Point

Greg and I had planned on climbing an ice flow that I noticed was in 10 days ago.  The only problem is that it was warm AND had rained since then.  The icicle had fallen and the beautiful blue ice below was now foamy white.  So much for ice climbing.  Luckily, we were going to have to skin back into the ice, so we had all of our touring gear.  We decided that since we were only 20 minutes from Copper that we may as well go skiing.

Once at the pull-out I told Greg that maybe instead of going to cliche' Copper, we should go to the Bull Trout Point ridge.  He didn't take too much convincing!

The skin in is easy once past the thicker trees on the lower slope.  The snow just got better and better the higher we got.  We didn't go all the way to the true summit.  We stopped at the first false summit and skied the face you can see from the road.

We skinned back up and skied the ridge to the bottom.  The snow on the lower ridge turned to corn.  It was almost a surprise to have such great snow conditions.

We cut through the trees and were on flat ground.  Somebody had pulled a BIG sled down Bull Trout road with snowshoes.  What a cool place to spend a few days in the winter.  Lucky people.  

Happy Birthday Greg!  Hope you had a good one!

Sunday, January 30, 2011


From yesterday.  Splitter day.  I love Idaho.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

The Warrior's Way Falling Clinic

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Copper 1/2/11

Another great day up on Copper.  The snow up there has been great so far this season.  I skied with Chris, John, John, and Dylan.  Everyone had a great time.  We were thinking about skiing the shoulder chute so we dropped a cornice into it using my cornice cutter tool with Chris giving me a belay.  It was about a 500 pounder and the slope didn't move.  The cornice broke up and ran down to the bottom.

We skied the face on the way back down to John and crew.  Wind blown, ice and then some nice snow. The lower shoulder was very nice on the way out.  

I would write more, but I am two glasses into a bottle of Sageland Cabernet Sauvignon and I just took a melatonin.  I hope everyone got out and had a great weekend!