April 5, 2015

Tanners Gulch to Hell Gate-Making the most of a frail Winter

Yesterday morning Jared and I dropped a car a Hell Gate and then began a beautiful high alpine tour at Tanner's Gulch at 6 a.m. The moon waned with only its silhouette revealed by a sleeping sun. The stars were out and the temperatures had done as we hoped, freezing the snow into a solid snow cone.

Up Tanners we found granite boulders littering the first 500 vertical feet. In reaching the snow we welcomed icy texture upon which to travel. Unintentionally we hung far right up the couloir, driving us directly up to the east shoulder of Dromedary. We reached the top of the gulch around 7:30 a.m. Happily then we skied fresh powder (4") down to the east shoulder of Sundial. It was amazing to see Blanche already shedding her blanket of ice.

We moved from the West drainage of Mill B South over to the East drainage, finding a steep narrow notch that turned into a really neat couloir maybe 10 feet wide and 50 degree pitch. Jared entered using his whippet belay off a tree and then linked beautiful turns.  We then beheld the massive cirque, holding Monte Cristo and the beauty of the cottonwood ridge. Entering the cirque, there was a sense of reverence, silence and splendid loneliness.

Our aim was the "Heart of Darkness" couloir which would take us up to the short, exposed ridge-line that would get us onto the Cottonwood ridge. Like a junk show, I dropped my ski crampon right at the base of the Heart and got to run down on rock hard snow to retrieve it. Jared laughed, saying I should've had my BD Cyborg crampons on during my descent.  Up the couloir we went, and luckily there was enough ice to justify crampons, maybe not so burley like my Cyborgs, but nonetheless, patches of great moderate ice.  It was beautiful to top out in the sun.

We then worked up to the summit of Monte Cristo. It felt quite appropriate to stand atop "the mountain of Christ" as we gratefully celebrate his triumphant resurrection this Easter Season. The view back to Dromedary was as always brilliant.

We skied Monte Cristo's "edge of the world" on perfect corn.  Mount Superior was our last high point of the day. Descending south Superior we found a mixed bag of moguls, corn and ice. The day concluded at 10:15 a.m. with smiles. It was another amazing tour that will be forever filed in the cabinet of our minds.

Dromedary's East Face

Shoulder of Dromedary. Heaven.
Entering East Fork Mill B South
Jared, East Fork
A lonely skinner- Courtesy Jared Inouye
Jared eyeing the Heart of Darkness
Me up the Heart of Darkness- Courtesy Jared Inouye
Jared, Monte Cristo and the backbone of Cottonwood Ridge
Looking back

1 comment:

  1. That looks and sounds like an amazing tour. Great photos.