I got a call from my climbing partner 30 minutes before we were scheduled to depart to Indian Creek, UT with a report of rain, snow, and recent flooding around Moab. We decided to postpone departure a day to let the rock dry and accordingly, my first day of vacation was wide open. What to do, what to do? The Sawtooth Ridge Traverse was a line I had intended to do with my "ski traverse only" partners so I thought I could use the day as a recon for the upcoming trip. I was not sure of the amount of new snow deposited in the Sawtooths since the recent trip to Eocene Peak so I was going down with an open mind and an intention to turn back if the snow was sketchy. At the trailhead at 6:15 AM and at the juncture of the Mt.Walt route at 7AM. The lower snow was firm and I booted the entire way.
Right after the above foto at 7AM, deeper snow became more consistent, not just wind-blown settlement, yet it was still dry and booting was fast. I was at Glacier Lake at 8AM and made my way up to the Hawks Head Notch which gave a much better view of the Eocene descent route.
This is the view looking NNE from Hawks Head Notch:
It was 8:45am and I was a bit suspicious of the 6-10 inches of windloaded powder down from the notch. This was the first sunny day after the recent snow. Fortunately, it was still cold and my hand were numb and I was still wearing 2 hats from climbing in the shade. After cutting the slope (no evidence of instability) and some contemplation, my new thought process was to blast through the traverse as fast as possible and avoid the warming, transitioning snowpack. However, my artistic notions tempted me to blast down right from the Hawks Head notch and enjoy the powder descent while it was good. It looked great and still quite cold. Likely dry fluff. Then I thought I might get the same thing at the end of the traverse. So I was off. This foto is looking back towards the Hawks Head Notch after a 3 turn descent and a 100 foot traverse SE.
Then a 200 foot boottrack up to the Blacksmith Glacier.
The Cleaver and the Cleaver notch in the middle. This was a fast traverse over to the Cleaver notch by maintaining a highline.
I was at the notch in less than a minute and then slideslipped up the remainder of the notch to avoid a transition.....fun to cover so much ground quickly with no effort:
Looking down the Cleaver Notch:
Looking ESE from the Cleaver Notch. The objective for me was to end up just SW of the Horse Creek Tower seen across the Sawtooh Glacier and then ski down into the Matterhorn Glacier.
Looking back, Northwest, towards the Cleaver Notch:
The Col de Doodad and the Doodad (the rock on the flat ridge right of the Col)
Great view of the Matterhorn at 9:30. It is just getting warm, the snow getting heavy, and I'm glad to be getting down.
A cool chute with some water ice in the middle that was too tempting to pass up:
Twin Lakes ice melting; these slopes were still quite firm (no powder as up higher) with just a bit of corn snow forming at 10AM
The visible sections of the route from 395 are marked in red.
This was the Sawtooth Traverse described in Moyniers first edition. The second edition Sawtooth Traverse goes over Eocene Peak and then Glacier Col to join this route. There are so many cool variations to be done on this traverse. It has a mountaineering style to it with lots of short ups and down in a definitive alpine setting. I omitted the fotos of the powder skiing tracks down Matterhorn Glacier for some brevity but it was great run! In fact, this morning's trip was some of the best 4 hours I've spent in the Sierra this season
[img]yeah i know but i was too lazy to look for it. i'm confused as to which line is the s face. do you mean the n face of s morrison??? if so, then yeah its got a couple lines that look to go but dan's line from his book does not look to be in as the exit traverse doesnt connect.
wednesday we skied the east face of n morrison from the top, then back up to the col to ski the east facing falline beneath the col which was perfect corn and then back up to the col again to ski the n side down to the lake. pretty much perfect conditions as the mtn was totally socked in until we reached the col when it majestically popped bluebird so it didnt overheat from the morning sun.
yesterday we had the intention of skiing something on laurel and then back up minipinner to the bloody/laurel col and then skiing bloody to a car we left on sherwin creek rd. but it was waayyyyy too hot and sketchy to safely climb back up the east facing exposure to get to the bloody col so 2 of us skied the pinner and one skied the mendenhall and we called it a day. both lines skied well and were mostly clean except for some debris towards the bottom. mostly snow and minimal ice in the mendenhall choke.
this coming monday and tuesday look to be ideal conditions down there w/ hard freezes and sunny days. git sum!!!