This tour was one of my favorite backcountry adventures yet. My friend Jon and I reached the base of the mountain around noon in hopes that a late start would give the clouds time to clear. Unfortunately this did not happen, so we strapped in and began trudging through the fresh powder with flurries of light snow coming in and out.
The skin track we followed had been packed down by the early risers, but the light snowfall had laid a nice layer of powder over top. In some places, the tracks where hard to find.
The trail started out decently flat, but as we got closer to the ridgeline it started getting steep. My splitboard is a bit flexible and it made it a bit rough. On some of the steeper sections I found myself sliding backwards or using my poles to push myself forward.
We got to the ridge that runs upwards toward Superior from the East and cut off the main track. The less beaten path took us on top of the actual ridge and I had to unstrap from my board and go by boot for a bit of the ridge because I was sliding backwards. Before when I slide there was nothing but a powdery hill for me to fall down. Now there was rocky cliff that dropped into trees. I didn’t feel like risking it.
After a few hundred yards up the ridge by boot, we reached a point along the ridge with a small shack and a radio antenna. We walked up and enjoyed the view for a bit before we continued down the other side of the point and back along the ridge.
The tracks took us off the ridge, onto the South face and through some trees. It was a bit icy and the edges of my splitboard didn’t give me much friction against the steep face. However, I made my way down and realized that my skiing years as a kid came back to me.
Before I knew it, we were on our way up the ridge again. We had to unstrap and boot our way up the abrupt face. We soon cut of the ridge and were just under the point of Superior on a pretty intimidating incline coated in 3 feet of feathery powder.
I switched my board for riding while Jon set up his paragliding wing. When we were all set, I took off down the face. I bombed the hill and began psych myself out. I turned way too hard and threw a ridiculous wave of powder (exactly what you don’t want to do in avalanche conditions like these). I was blind and as I turned my nose went deep into the snow, throwing me head first down the mountain.
My ego was a bit bruised, Jon took off behind me. I heard him cheering in the air and I regained my senses. I got my nerves back when I realized that if I didn’t just cause an avalanche I probably wasn’t going to today… A risky way to test the snow pack.
I flew down the rest of the face without fear of slides and had an amazing run. I cut through a patch of trees and saw a track that went to my right. It turned and went right off a pretty massive cliff. I decided that wasn’t the best route for me and cut to the left and back out of the trees.
I dropped down into a bit of a gully and avoided some rocky sections that rose up above me on both sides. My turns cause a bunch of snow to tumble down the mountain in front of me.
Ahead I could see the slope mellowing out and I pointed my nose down, and bombed the rest of the ride. Keeping my eyes pealed, I had to make some quick adjustments to my path. I nearly rode into a patch of creek that had melted through the snow and weave through quaking aspen branched before dropping down to the edge of the rode.
I unclipped and began making my way up the road with my thumb out. Soon enough a guy in a van picked me up and drove me just short of our car where Jon had landed. We walked the next little bit exchanging stories of our descents.