Monday, May 17, 2010

Sunday School: Skiing the North Face of Mt Church

Aki and I headed over to the Lost Rivers again last weekend. The truck was packed with climbing, biking and ski gear; we were ready for anything! When friends bailed on our planned bolting adventure, I knew it was time to go skiing.

It's not often that the conditions, weather and road openings converge to make skiing the high peaks in the Lost Rivers a possibility.

We began by driving over Pass Creek in route to the Upper Pahsimeroi Valley. Even though this way involved more driving on dirt roads, we were already in the Pass Creek area and I hadn't done the drive in a decade or so. At Pass Creek Summit Aki encouraged me to ski this 200' wind roll. The reward, more than the ski, was the view from the top! To the north vast amounts of alpine terrain covered in snow!

The Little Lost River Valley, Bell Mountain and Butte County.

After hours of dirt roads and rough driving, we arrived at the East Fork of the Upper Pahsimeroi. Aki relaxes in the evening sun while I run around like mad looking at all the alpine terrain!

We could see Mt Church from camp and I began packing my kit for an early morning start. I had been through this area on a 6 day solo backpack trip 12 years ago and it felt great to return. The terrain was even more spectacular then I remembered!

Entering the alpine after navigating several miles of dense trees in the lower valley. We camped at 8200' and after a mile hike I was able to put skis on at 8400'. Not bad for skiing in the middle of May!

The summit of Mt Church: 12,200, the third highest peak in the state. It was 4000' and just under 4 miles from camp. I was fortunate enough to skin to about 11, 600' before booting the rest.

My boot pack along the ridge with Donaldson and Brietenbach in the background.

3, 2, 1... dropping!

I skinned up the large ramp (green) on the left, booted through the "keyhole" near the large rock band, to the summit ridge. I skied the central ramp right off the summit (red) down through the lower rock band. The top was a little wind effected and my first 10 turns were firm, then it was cold, boot top pow to the dogleg, then slight sun effected snow for a bit before turning to perfect corn on the lower portion of the face. From top to bottom it's about a 2400' foot run! Has anyone skied this line before? I'd like to hear what conditions you found.
What a line!

Thanks to the Lost Rivers and Aki for such a fantastic weekend!