Randosteve skis in the Eastern Beartooths of Montana.
Our second full day skiing out of Goose Lake was the best. Our plan was to head up to Fox Peak and scope out its North Couloir, which was recommend by Kris Erickson, a well known ski mountaineer and photographer. After hopefully a successful descent, would then boot up to a col to the north, before skiing another north-facing shot down into the Wolf/Sawtooth cirque. And if things looked decent, we would then head up the main, diagonal couloir on Sawtooth.
Skinning towards Fox Peak.
The morning started out great and after a couple cups of coffee we were out the door(?) before 9am. We had spotted the entrance to the North Couloir on Fox (though actually on the peak to the north of Fox) the day before from Sawtooth, but from a distance, it looked to have a large cornice protecting its entrance and we couldn’t really see the lower sections. As we topped out on the peak, the views into the Wolf/Sawtooth cirque were incredible. A ski mountaineer’s dream, with chutes and couloirs coming down from nearly every point on the ridge.
On belay, Josh Gage peaks over the cornice to see if it goes.
From the summit, we could see the top half of the couloir but not the bottom. There looked to be an entrance into the couloir on the skier’s right, avoiding the cornice overhanging the rest of the line. Unsure of the condition of the lower sections of the couloir, we pulled out the rope and moved to the edge of the cornice to see if it went. It did…and the line looked great.
Josh Gage photographs from above as Steve Romeo skis the couloir.
Dropping in first, the snow was soft and powdery, and the slope quite steep. Linking turns, I hopped down the couloir and did a short side-slip through a pinch, before continuing to the bottom to watch the others descend. From the bottom, the aesthetics of the couloir were really visible and I was thankful Kris gave us the heads up. One by one, the crew came down, all with big smiles on their faces.
Josh Gage and Reed Finlay view the North Couloir on Fox Peak.
As we booted up to a col to the north, I couldn’t take my eyes off the couloir we had just skied. You could see our tracks at the very top and from this aspect, the couloir looked even more rad. At the top, we continued down into the Wolf/Sawtooth cirque via a wide couloir that had a ling run-out. The snow was decent and we all wanted more. Although the diagonal couloir on Sawtooth was filled with debris and chunder, we went for it anyway, figuring the sun would soften things up and make it manageable.
Wolf and Sawtooth Mountain from the col.
It was hot-as-hades as we booted up the couloir, but a layer of clouds had moved in, keeping the upper section of the couloir a bit on the firm side. At the top, we waited around until the sun came out in full force, hoping for some softer conditions. Finally, we started the descent of the Diagonal Couloir, avoiding the snowballs and rollers, which was pretty tame, but still a fun and long run off the Sawtooth.
Ryan Minton skis the diagonal couloir on Sawtooth Mountain.
The wind picked up that night, a few flakes fell on us, and it was a little hard to sleep with the Megamid flapping around in the breeze. But the sun came out in full force the next morning, making the ski out pleasurable and once we were on the snow machine road, quite fast. This trip, my first experience in the Eastern Beartooths, was a good eye-opener into what it has to offer and has definitely wet-my-whistle for more exploring and descents in the future. Thanks to Ryan and Gage for the invite to join in their adventure.
Back in Cooke City.