I had a run in with a line that looked interesting this past summer and I had made a mental note to myself that I should probably come back and check that out in the winter. Although I also noted the terrain seemed like it would need a decent amount of snow to fill in and really be safe and enjoyable to ride. Queue Feb of 2015 and there is no longer a need to worry about snow depth.
This was a general recon mission with low expectations. My main plan was to ride this line I had scoped out over the summer but there was some other stuff I wanted to get my eyes on as well. I was solo so decision making was conservative and I was going to stick to the plan seeing as that line had the highest probability of actually being reasonable.
First part of the skin up is a real treat. Perfect grades to get warmed up, the sun was out and its a good thing because it was pretty damn cold...again. I spent most of the early skin up glancing into the woods trying to find those tell tale signs of tracks or slightly open sections of woods that might be rideable. Before too long you get to see the lower sections of the line I was intending to ride and things looked good. Deep, open and no one had touched it,. This sort of surprised me seeing as the line is super obvious and reasonable to hike to. I figured at least someone in the area would have ridden it since the last major snow fall.
I was taking a round about way to the summit so after seeing the lower parts of the line I traversed north a bit to where the path to the summit multiplies by 3. I choose the Blue option because it heads over to a drainage that I had an inkling might be rideable. There was only one track ahead of me and it looked to have been set before the last little accumulation we had. Again this trail was great for skinning. Even terrain with reasonable grades. I was actually somewhat surprised I was able to skin all the way to the summit, I thought there might be a section or two that might require a bit of booting.
To my surprise the drainage actually looked pretty darn appealing. Sporty but certainly doable, at least for as far as I could see. But it didn't seem ideal to be heading off into the somewhat unknown solo so I stuck to my plan to stay a bit more centrally located on the mountain just in case. I'll leave that for another day when I can talk someone into checking it out with me. Rest of the skin up the blue option to the BRT was good.
working my way across the ridge just below the summit
Navigating the ridge got a bit interesting in spots. Wind was drifting the snow and obscuring the trail in spots. I had a set of snowshoe tracks to follow but even those tracks disappeared at times due to wind. I was eventually reminded not to just blindly follow tracks in front of you when navigating in the backcountry. Remember kids just because someone has already gone that way doesn't mean that person wasn't a complete idiot heading in the complete wrong direction. As I followed the tracks I began to notice (too late) that the brush around was getting tighter and tighter and then I realized I hadn't seen a blaze on a tree for awhile and BOOM off trail and wandering around. WEEEEEEEEEE
Luckily I've poked around this area in the summer a few times and my sense of direction is pretty good. I cheated a bit and used Google Maps with the sat image overlay to verify I had the right bearing to hit the fire tower I was shooting for. Turns out I had already gotten myself pointed right at it, just had another few hundred yards to go.
Temps warranted a quick transition (and little to no picture taking) and I got on my way. The top section of the line was a bit tighter than I had been anticipating but still completely reasonable and actually down right enjoyable and it only got better as I went. Little bit better than boot deep fluff with a nice smooth consolidated base underneath. Good pitch, able to link turns without issue. I couldn't really believe my luck. For some reason I had completely prepared myself for a shit show of really sketchy skiing but this was downright shred.
Absolutely great the whole way down. Intersected the lower skin line and most days I would probably have transitioned back over and gone to do that drainage. But I had a plan and I nailed it so I figured I would scram and go get some other stuff done at the house.
Very likely this is going to be one of my new go-to spots. Lots more potential in the area and close to home. Lots more recon missions to come.