Monday, December 10, 2012

Little Saint Joe/Point 9033: Maps Only Work if You Use Them

Peaks South of Bass Creek from near our high point.

Jen and I still haven't quite got a handle on the Bitterroots. The valley floor is at the same hight as most Cascades passes and many of the peaks we can see from our house rise 5000' above that rather rapidly.

Saturday we got a slow start. I hadn't slept much...I blame the availability of British television on netflix. The snotel showed 20 inches of fresh at 7k and forecast called for temps in the teens. We drove up to the base of the mountains at 4k and started booting up through a few inches of powder on dirt towards the open bowls and glades that supposedly guard the summit of point 9033 known to the locals as Little Saint Joe.

Map of the area.

Just after the transition from booting to skinning. 

Eventually the snow got deeper. We picked up a fresh skin track and and started following it in the hopes that local knowledge would lead us through the band of forest surrounding the summer overlook at 6000 feet. This was not to be as it dead ended in dense downed trees several times before backtracking and retreating down towards the valley floor. We never saw this other skier though we did see a shy lone black and white dog with red collar we hope was his.

After an hour or so of messing about we broke out the map we had printed and were able to quickly pick up the summer route. A deer had conveniently broken trail, knowing his way through the forest better than we skiers. We followed his tracks upwards past orange blazed trees and sawn logs but our turn around time came and went before we broke out of the trees.

Jen titled this photo "Do the deer and I have the same agenda?"

A few turns were made in deep powder back down the ridge through the tight trees, dodging thinly covered logs. Before long we put our bindings in tour mode and resorted to skinless skating and downhill trail breaking. Once again we found ourselves booting back to the car by star light.

The valley floor as the sun sets. 

Perhaps with more cover or better study of satellite photos a more skiable route could be found through clearings and open forest further North.

A bouquet of mud and snow frozen to ski pole tips. 


K2 said...

I was @ the cabin on the 10th during this storm. Sounds like may have you ran into my dog Jocko. Hope he didnt bark at you too much. Nice ski posts, maybe someday we cross paths again.

Unknown said...

Thanks K2. Glad Jocko had somewhere warm to go.

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