Sunday, February 22nd, 2004 - Lost Trail Powder Mountain, Montana
If you'd like to use a map to orient yourself while reading the report, click on the image below to open a high resolution trail map of Lost Trail Powder Mountain in a new window.
The next day, Greg and I headed off to Lost Trail after a quick drive through McDonald's for sustenance. There hadn't been any new snow since the previous day, so we headed right over to the line I had scoped out at the top of Elk Basin. The only tracks around were the ones I'd laid down to the side the previous day, so the main line was good to go. We pulled out the video cameras and got great shots of us ripping up the powder, which was easily 1-2 feet deep. It was so much fun that we had to go again on the next run and hit the next line over.
I didn't want to spend our entire day at the top of Elk Basin, even though we probably could have skied fresh lines the entire time. I wanted to show Greg some other fun powder lines with northerly exposure, so I brought him over to the north side of the Bear Claw Ridge. We skied one of my favorite lines off the first corner of the ridge, and scoped out a very imposing 15-20 footer that would make for a fantastic still-photo composition. We decided to hold off and keep it fresh for the rest of the guys who would be out the following weekend. We temporarily named it "James' Jump", as we hoped to convince him to launch it when the time came.
In the woods below, we found another, smaller jump with great snow, but it had a very flat landing that was in amongst tight trees. Still, I thought I'd be able to thread the needle and nail it. That one went well, although with the flat landing it wasn't fantastic. On the next trip up, we took another run further down the ridge and I showed Greg some of the cool options that drop off the cornices into the woods and snowfields below.
During one of our trips, we did a bit of exploring around the summit of Saddle Mountain. Greg snapped some scenic photos of other mountain ranges in the distance, and we checked out some nice powder off the north face of the peak. We met a couple of backcountry skiers who were working this face, and they filled us in on what the terrain was like. Although it was impossible to tell from the top of the run, there were some nice snowfields down below that made for some fantastic turns on north-facing terrain. I've heard of folks skiing this stuff before, and it seems like a nice option. However, from what I've been told by the ski patrol, they don't want resort skiers crossing this north boundary; you are only supposed to hit the terrain if you actually hiked in. It did look inviting to us, but since we were riding the lifts today, and had plenty of lift-served powder to contend with, it wasn't hard for us to turn away. Actually, we weren't prepared to head out of bounds anyway, and I'm not sure what route people take to get out after their run. Hiking back up to where they started is pretty obvious, but there may be a much easier way to get out by wrapping around back toward the resort. I'll have to check it out someday.
To finish off the day, we headed up into the steeps above North Bowl, which provided some nice fall-away turns. There were a few tracks in there, but still plenty of fresh lines. Fortunately, we knew there would be plenty of snow left when we came back the following weekend.
We headed home and had some of the great chicken dumpling soup that E and I had prepared for our guests (as well as ourselves since it is one of our favorites). In the evening, we headed off to pick up our first two airplane arrivals: James and Chris. They were really hungry after their flight, so as we headed south along the multitude of eateries on Reserve Street, we ended up at the Taco Bell drive through. For some, it was their first time eating a Beef Baja Chalupa, which I think left a good (or perhaps at least lasting) impression on their palates.
(Backcountry skiing in the Bitterroot's Mill Creek Canyon)
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