Drizzlepus, a feature on the south-side of Mount Moran has been on my hit-list for a long time. It sits just west of the Falling Ice Glacier and the West Horn, and is a point that many visit in the summer on their way to climb the CMC route. It’s quite a popular place in the summer, but pretty much human-free once the flakes start flying in the fall. Access to this line is very long during the winter months, so it seems logical that one would wait until the inner park road is plowed to giver’ a go. I always thought I would ski this line in corn snow…but with our own Pedal-Pole-Pedal event this week, my partners and I went for it…and it was powder skiing.
The day started with a cold and dark bike ride to the String/Leigh Lake Trailhead. About 2-3 feet of snow is still on the ground in that area and hopefully it will stick around for a bit to allow for some good bike-to-bike skiing this spring. We opted to skate across the lakes on our AT gear to try to save time, but a fresh skiff of cold and abrasive snow seemed to slow us down a little. Never-the-less, we made good time and were standing at the bottom of Moran in just over 2 hours.
The skin is up a steep gully to start, but after a bit, you rise into more open terrain and can throw some switchbacks in to make things a little less taxing. Higher up, above the summer route and closer to the Falling Ice Glacier, we transitioned to bootpacking as things really began to kick back up again. New snow from a few days ago was slowly starting to heating up and we were currently exposed to some danger from above, so it was little unnerving until we could gain a ridge further to the west.
Finally, we reached safer terrain and continued upward. The dike and CMC route began to come into view and the West Horn rose up like a dagger stabbing the sky. As we gained elevation, the snow got deeper and there was about a foot of powder that seemed to be holding up well, considering this was the second day of clear skies since it fell. A wind-loaded pocket of deeper snow near the top, and above some exposure made us a little jittery, but with persistence, we plowed through and reached the top of the Drizzlepus.
The views of the CMC face exploded in front of us at the top, and anyone that has ever been on this point knows what I’m taking about. I occasionally think about making an attempt at skiing the CMC (for its second descent), so it was nice to get a close up view when it’s covered with snow. Unfortunately, we couldn’t dilly-dally for too long since things were warming up, so we pushed off and began moving downhill.
Playing things safe, a ski cut assured us that the snow would stay put, but not enough to not look back every few turns to make sure it stayed that way. Lower down, things were a little less bonded and a few slides gained momentum and ripped over the cliffs below us. It was imperative that we didn’t get in front of them and the safe skiing was found on the bed surface where the snow had already slid.
Once we were below the technical terrain, there was less new snow and we skied perfect corn down to Leigh Lake, before making our way back to the bikes. Unfortunately, when we arrived back at the trailhead, we found out that I had locked my keys in the car, making the wait for softer footwear and a beer that much longer. Luckily, some kind folks gave us ride back into town where I picked up a spare set. Long day…but very enjoyable.
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