I was psyched to get out today! It was my last of three days off from work and the skies were blue and the snow was powder. Today was my first ‘official’ ski trip with Brian Harder. Though we have hooked up a few times randomly and talk about racing in the shop all the time, it was good to get out make some turns together. We got on the trail with the sun around 8:00 and it was nice to be following a track, cuz my legs were a little sore from yesterday’s 10K. We started breaking trail after Bradley Lake and I noticed how much the sun had affected the more southerly aspects already. It was good skinning up to Surprise and Amphitheater Lakes, and we made it in three hours at a rather leisurely pace.
Today’s objective, The Spoon Couloir, came into view and we both got excited. It looked ‘super-phat’ and you could see how much the snow had sloughed over the past few days. I was a little concerned that we might get shut down due to deep, wallowing conditions over rocks. But the climbing up the couloir was quite nice. Extremely light, fresh powder from 12-18” covered a solid, firm base. We both commented how it is nice to have crampons even in soft snow…to help get purchase in the firm snow below, as well as rocks that one may encounter when booting.
We rallied up the coolie in under an hour, and I noticed the views of the Spooky Face on Nez Perce. First skied by Mark Newcomb, Stephen Koch and Hans Johnstone. Yeah…that’s a 200′ rappel at the bottom. The question came to skin or boot the final 1000′ to the top of Disappointment Peak. I chose to skin, Brian to boot. It was sunny and warm and neither of us cared either way. We climbed to the highest skiable spot to be greeted with HUGE views of the East Face of the Grand. Brian and I have both climbed the East Ridge in a day…Brian in an amazing 4hrs from car to summit. Way to go bro!
The skiing was actually quite sketchy off the top. The upper East Face of Disappointment never really fills in and the light, fluffy snow hid some nasty rocks underneath. We skied very cautiously, keeping the speed down and tagging some rocks here and there until we got directly above the Spoon.
I felt good about the conditions and charged into the chute…it was all I could do to stop and wait for Brain, as well as let the slough pass by. It surprised me a little as it thundered past me and flowed down the couloir, onto the apron below. The snow was very predictable and you could ski it as fast as you wanted…which I did.
Fantastic untracked powder continued for another 3000′ down Burnt Wagon Gulch to the meadows of the Valley. The sun was low and blared directly in our faces, adding to the burn I already had. I felt tired, but very satisfied, ready for my big four day work week to come.