Sacajawea, 9838′, is the tallest peak in the Wallowa mountains, and sixth highest in Oregon. I’ve been meaning to get up there, so when Aaron asked if I wanted to go I jumped at the opportunity. We had excellent weather, great travel conditions and good snow. Great day to be on top of the Wallowas.
Only managed to get one picture, Aaron and Devin are superfit dudes so on the rare occasion we stopped I used it to catch my breath.
Devin skiing into the white abyss. Aaron is the black dot at the bottom.
Sometimes things just don’t work out. There’s a classic couloir I’ve been watching all season waiting for conditions to line up and I was sure Monday was going to be the day.
Tysen and I left Joseph at 0230 and began the slog. Firm snow made for effortless skinning, a light breeze kept us cool, and with the world shrunk down to what’s in front of your headlamp you really have nothing to do but go fast. All these factors helped us make good time and we hit the alpine with the sun.
We hit the couloir’s apron and immediately knew we wouldn’t be skiing it today. The past few days’ warm sun had baked the couloir’s rock walls, filling the gut with mashed potatoes. Ugh. I knew there would be a little, but didn’t expect this much. So we slogged on and hunted for a plan b.
Tysen booting up with an endless terrain backdrop
Tysen skiing nature’s groomer
Bummer we didn’t get our objective, but still had a great day out.
Tysen and I headed up to Dug Peak (Peak 8585) on Saturday to check out a couloir, unfortunately the chute was a little firm for our liking but we found some good corn on the south side of Dug Peak.
Some of the locals were trying to snake our line.
Tysen laying down some GS turns in the sun
Even though our main objective was canned we were happy with the great corn skiing.
East side of Hurwal. Skied the mostly hidden bowl in the upper right
You get an awesome view of Hurwal Divide from the Imnaha highway, and every time I see it I think of how good the skiing must be up there. At 9,776′ the northern peak of the divide is the seventh highest in Oregon, which sweetens the pot a bit.
Ran across a set of tracks which I can only guess are wolverine. Can anybody with a better eye ID these tracks?
Views were good as usual. Lots of ski terrain out there
Sacajawea looking good
The skiing was pretty good. The first 100′ was rock hard, then turned to a few inches of enjoyable pow for the rest of the 2500′ descent
Took advantage of the clear skies and went for a walk in the alpine last Saturday. A lot of naturals out there on all aspects and a thin rain crust all the way up to 8800′ where I topped out. Good skiing conditions in protected areas above 7000′. I got a couple shooting cracks on wind slabs failing at the crust layer and easily got them to run on test slopes.
A few pics of the carnage from the last cycle.
The views made up for the ugly avy debris
Drew up a little map for the Salt Creek Beacon Basin to help facilitate your training. The basin is a great resource to keep your transceiver skills sharp.
My preferred method for water crossings is to hurl my skis and pack to the opposite bank and find a log or some rocks to shimmy across. The best part about this method is once you throw your skis and pack across you now have an incentive to get across the water. Of course, it also relieves some weight off your back to be able to pull off some ninja moves on those tricky logs.
Sometimes it’s tough to find a good spot and you just gotta make do.
Emily fording a river. Ski gear is made to get wet. Right? If you do it right you can bridge the rocks with your skis, keeping your boots high and dry.
Conditions have been mixed bag to terrible lately. We’ve encountered slush, crusts, mashed potatoes, mank, avy debris, rain, and even some skiable stuff.
Emily climbs into the fog.
We’re finding some great skiing out there even though we’re keeping slope angles low.
Deep snow below treeline
Came across this little natural on a cutbank. the slab was 100cm deep, about 10m wide and propagated another 20m out of frame. It slid on a crust layer near the ground.
Tysen getting the goods
Click Images to Enlarge
It’s been a painfully slow start to the season, but it’s finally starting to resemble winter out there. Tysen and I checked out the No Joke couloir on Craig and found fantastic skiing conditions.
Tysen enjoying coldsmoke on the runout
I’ve been really digging Dynafits Ultra-Lock system on the TLT6. With just a swing of the hand you tighten your cuff as well as lock the boot into ski mode. The cuff rotation range is huge, which is great for skinning, but when you come across a steep downhill section it’s like trying to ski with Chuck Taylors on your feet. Manageable with a daypack, a nightmare with an overnight pack. I don’t need, or want full-on ski mode, just a little ankle support. I came up with this solution with stuff I had laying around the house and it’s been working ok, a little more fiddle factor than I’d like, but it gets the job done.
I used a chunk of 3/8 ID nylon hose as the stop, with a p-cord sheath acting as a tether as well as a pull handle
View of the stop at work. The hose disables the tang from engaging, giving you ankle support without going into ski mode
When not in use I capture the p-cord tether in the power strap so it’s not flopping around