I have been planning a trip to ski in the Mission Mts. since I first laid my eyes on them three years ago while on a climbing trip throughout the Big Sky state. At that time I had never even heard of the Mission Mts., but when I got home I started researching their back country skiing potential.
|Missions Mts- looking North from East St.Mary|
When I moved to Whitefish, MT at the beginning of this year I had a feeling that I would be putting in an effort to ski in this range. Coming back from Idaho three weeks ago we passed St. Ignatius- the gateway to the Missions- and thoughts began to pile up for when I could make this trip happen. Texts were sent to many Boyz with temptation to ski in the wild arena. The dilemma I am having now living so far north is having all of these epic mountains to climb, but no Boyz to ski with.
My dependable partner from the North, Dan Koestler, was down and we planned on being in the the Missions for Easter weekend. When he called just three days before we were supposed to go, telling me how he was put on the schedule unexpectedly, I texted again, to no avail. I began to make new plans for my weekend off work.
Then a miracle happened. My closest in proximity and most experienced Skier Boy Friend called and said he would go. YES! Thank You Jay Welz! It was a roller coaster of emotions leading up to getting to the trailhead and even after, but while we were in the mountains it felt like we were supposed to be there. The Missions approved of our dedication to exploration.
|Happy Easter! Boyz on summit cone of East St. Mary|
|The trail head|
|That approach wasn't so bad. I could have packed a few more brews|
|Welz below point 8700 ridge|
|Grey Wolf Peak and it coolers|
At 4 pm, we reached the ridge at 8700 ft. 5 hours and 4800 feet of climbing later, we had a look at Grey Wolf Peak and the couloir we wanted to ski the next day. We ripped skins and skied a beautiful large bowl down 1700 feet to the base of the Grey Wolf where we would set up camp. The bowl is north facing so we carved some creamy archs and wiggles, pleased with the conditions and blown away with our position! After setting up camp we climbed back to the ridge for another descent of the bowl before the sun went down for the night. We cheers'd with a few brews and gulped some chai rum then slept under a Big sky of brilliant lights.
|Amazing bivy spot|
|Self portrait with the SOuth East Face of East St. Mary|
|DAmn thats some creamy corn|
|Welz dropping off the summit cone of East St. Mary|
From the bottom of the bowl we booted 1000 feet back up the ridge on the hard crusted west face. In an hours time we were back up to 8700 and looking over at our next objective, which seemed like we would be timing perfectly because the coolie was still in the shade. Shit! Someone was booting up our line. They sussed us while we were climbing or skiing East St. Mary. We were in awe and didn't know what to do.
We skied down back to camp and decided that the group was either going to wait for the apron to soften up, which would give us time to high five them at the top or they were just going to ski in in hard, scary conditions. So we went up and hoped they were Canadians so we could offer them a Kokanee if we got in their way.
Changing over from skinning to cramponing we waited below some rocks at the bottom of the chute. We began to see some snow pebbles come down through the chute and then some more and felt that the group ahead was descending. Alright, exactly what we were hoping for. We high-fived the gang from Missoula and began booting up the empty coolie above.
|Do you think the Easter bunny hid any eggs up here?|
|Towards the top of the coolie. The terrain in the back ground is point 8700, where we made 3 laps in creamy powder conditions.|
|Thanks for the Peeps. Now lets ski this line!|
|Welz dropping into the West Couloir of Grey Wolf PEak|
|Finding some soft snow in the shade|
|BAck out into the sun for corn.|
|SKiing out of the Missions to finish the mission|
|Sore feet. This is What we DO!|
Getting back to the truck are feet were sore but our minds were at ease. Popping a victory brew we cheers'd to an excellent adventure, 13,000 feet of climbing, 2 memorable lines and a bivy worthy of the effort.