Eric, Dave, my brother Joe and I headed up to the trail head Saturday evening to camp. Up around 4 and finally away by 5:30 we decided to take the tried and true boulder field instead of the Scott-Paul trail that others had said was good (Eric and I have wandered around over there too much in the past).
Boulder field stream crossing
Intersecting the circular Scott-Paul at the end of the boulder field we followed it back around to cross the morain and get onto good snow where we put the skins on.
Clouds were intermitent, enveloping us in a worrisome near white-out, then we climbed through it back into glorious sunshine, which held above 6,500. Snow on the upper mountain was about as good as it gets - minimal suncups, and good coverage of the crevases.
Joe skins into the clouds
Into the sun
Joe ran out of gas at about 8,500 so we took a good rest and skied down around 3 p.m. By that time the lower slopes were getting mushy, but it was still better than walking! We decided to try following the ski tracks of those who came up the Scott Paul, which gave us another 1,000 feet of skiing (mostly traversing).
When the snow got thin there was some easy open timber schwacking before we hit the trail proper. We had a fun time figuring out which way to go on the trail (which climbed either way we went from our intersection point) but we finally went right (which was right) and tromped on down to the car.
We'd gambled on the weather, hoping to climb above it, and won a beautiful day in the mountains.
There must still be quite a bit of snow up there if you guys went up the drainage. I found myself in similar conditions up there 3 years ago and we did the same. We actually found the start of the RR Grade down at the drainage and follwed the ridge up. It was pretty neat.
Layback, we hiked up the snow free drainage as you can see in the first picture, hit snow near the top of it, but didn't start skinning until we climbed over the moraine. I kind of enjoy hopping up those little colorful boulders, but it isn't as much fun to clump down in ski boots. I wish they would close the area to snomobiles earlier so we could ski all the way down. Skiing some of the road would be well worth it.
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