.post-body img { max-width:300px; max-height:auto; }

Saturday, February 21, 2015

West Pine Creek Backcountry Ski Tour

With a large (for this season) dump of snow overnight, I figured I better do some skiing while it lasts. I had noticed a West Pine Creek National Forest sign on Trail Creek Road coming back from the Carnival Craig two weeks prior that I had not ever noticed before and it looked like great terrain for backcountry skiing so Mr.Curious me took the split board up there. 3 hours later I was a couple miles back and almost 3,000ft higher with the place to myself and anywhere from 4"-12" of fresh powder. I made some fantastic turns down down down to the creek making for a great ride. I probably had to skin out the last mile or so to the Trooper. 3 hours out, 1 hour back, thats why I absolutely love splitboard mountaineering. You can go one way so much further in a day when you know you are going to return at 100 times the speed you left. My favorite example was Mt.Hood; 4 hours to the Summit, 11 minutes back to the car! Granted I was gunning for it. Devin had to stop and take a breather.
That tree points the way out.
The no-name peak I skied off of.
First tracks. Last tracks. Only tracks. My tracks. 
W Pine creek

Friday, February 20, 2015

South Fork Pine Creek ice scouting mission

Seeing how we got back from the ice fishing trip a day early, I had an empty day to do something with. With the indian-summer-like weather we had been experiencing, I thought a trip up the South Fork of the East Fork of Pine Creek (the East Fork of Pine Creek is considered Pine Creek proper in Paradise Valley or THE Pine Creek when you say "I went to Pine Creek today") would be productive. The area is pretty much all in avalanche terrain but with this weird weather, I figured it would be safe. So I walked up to Pine Creek Falls armed with some snowshoes and branched off. I cached the snowshoes because there just wasnt much snow and where there was, it had a crust I wasnt really breaking through. I bushwhacked up to the cliffs on the NorthWest-ish face of Mt.Black looking for two climbs in particular; Gross and Klein Volkable. I found several drips on the way that have probably not been climbed more than once if at all. Gross was not in but Klein was looking good with pretty much no avy danger. After a snack, I descended down to the creek and kept walking South. I encountered multiple East facing ice climbs on the West side of the valley. I know a couple are in the guide books but a couple are not. With the prolific history of climbing in the area I have no doubt they have been climbed. I wanted to make it all the way to some climbs on the SouthWest face of Mt.Black called Neptune and Pluto (for good reason; 3 hour walk if you know where they are and how to get to them) but didnt make it before my turn-around time. I will definitely be back up there for some off-the-beaten-path ice climbing. I love the obscure ones. I actually dont know anybody who has been up there.

Some ice across the valley. This ice is facing E.
Some drips on the way to Kleine and Gross.

Looking back down the valley.
Kleine is the upper left flow, Gross is the lower right.

Gross in WI1-2 conditions.
Ed's left and right?
Some E facing gully climbs. A few of these are in Big Sky Ice but not all. (Brain Camp?)
There is a cave with ice lookers right.
Each avy chute had ice in them somewhere; anyone want to go skiing!?

A cool mushroom.
The cave with ice to the right and above.
Multi-pitch ice flows in both chutes.

This blob was is facing W and was just barely poking through the trees.
The daunting W face of Mt.Black.

More E facing ice further up the S Fork.
To get to Neptune and Pluto (appropriately named) you have to walk through that saddle. I think.

A striking couloir.
Kleine from the creek bottom on the return trip.

Blue and Green gullies.

Paradise Valley
Rich folk cattle.

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Fort Peck Ice Fishing

Another great year was had on ol' Fort Peck Reservoir. My dad with two of his friends and I all got to spend a few days in a winter paradise fishing. Theres nothing quite like the change of pace that winter camping and ice fishing brings about; I love it. Lets wake up today and do exactly what we want to do all day with good friends. Tough huh? This trip really supports the saying 'the fishing is always good, but the catching can vary.' I dont know how many years in a row we have been out there now but its never quite long enough and we cant wait to get back. Its exciting to drive through a blizzard in the dark across the ice/lake three (sometimes four) sheets to the wind and know right where you are and where you need to go. I like being comfortable if not thriving in high consequence scenarios. I know my dad almost went through the ice on a four wheeler a few years back but this is the first year one of us has gone through the ice; it was Mr.Adventurous me. It happened so fast and I was out of the water and on the ice so quickly that I didnt even have time to panic. I broke through a snow bridge over open water from a pressure ridge. Ill bet I never do that again. Luckily we always bring the necessary equipment to deal with worst case scenarios like that (monster heaters, throw bags, ice picks and an ice house to mention a couple).  The CMR is a wild place.

If you have never seen a trophy Northern Pike, well here you go; 43" long! (not caught by us)

These guys from WY and WI killed it out there!

I like this silhouette photo. Its takes teamwork to catch these big fish!
This was the big fish of the trip at 36"; the rest of the pike came in at 35" and Im not just floating my own boat.

Grizzly Adams is really good at drinking everyone else's beer!

It went from slick blue ice to covered in snow in one day.

Gaggles of geese were flying over the whole time.
One way to thaw frozen fish is to put them next to a 200,000btu heater in a wall tent; you cant even imagine the smell.

I dont think this is my first Sauger, but its my biggest!
Yup, thats a BD Express holding down the fort. Sharp end ice fishing?