Tuesday, January 12, 2021

Granddaddy Ski Tour - 12.6.2015

Note: Updated to include another great Granddaddy tour.

After a perfect Saturday, the secret was out, and we'd need to go deeper to avoid the crowds. With virtually no solar radiation, sunny south faces seemed appropriate. We decided on a tour around Pastoral Peak.

Climbing above the inversion with lovely purple tones to the west.

First light kissing Kickstep from Taylor Pass; many fun memories in this picture:

Photo: Brady Deal

Two hours after leaving the car our first line was in view. Carpathian looking nice too.

Photo: Brady Deal

There was only one problem: the ridge ahead of us had little snow, big exposure, and cross loading. Solution: ski a bonus run.

Brady dropped first:

The face ended up being longer than expected. I watched each skier go in and out of sight as they dropped lower and lower. Mary:

No longer separated from our objective by unnecessary treachery, Bad Santa was up!

Maybe next time...

After cooking in(and up) the climb out of the basin below, we looked down our next line.

My wonderful teammates let me drop first:

Photo: Brady Deal

I pulled off to watch Zack shoot by. Fun looking terrain back there.

Still not down:

Photo: Brady Deal

With our unexpected bonus lap, we needed to start in the general direction home. Can't wait to come back for more of this zone.

Taking advantage of the last sunlight, Brady dropped off the summit of Grandaddy Peak towards Granddaddy Couloir:

With a thin and rocky choke, Granddaddy was interesting. Listening from above as Zack and Brady scraped over the rocks was a bit of a sensory experience for Mary and I. I suspect the boys kind of enjoyed it though.

Mary finishing up the line.

At the bottom of the Granddaddy, Zack brought up the point that it wouldn't take much more work to ski another lap down Cornbiscuit. I should have listened, instead we experienced this special joy at the bottom of Bertha Creek:

Yes, that is Zack in there. Sorry Zack!

But, it could have been worse, and a short cross country ski brought us to the parking lot, where it was still 4 degrees.

To celebrate the start of 2021 we Tour de Turnagain'ed centered around Granddaddy Peak. Just like last time, a cold inversion hung over the pass as we drove through. The Sunburst parking lot was empty in the dusk of first light - seems others decided to sleep in on New Years. Imagine. 

For a warm up we headed for Taylor pass and then towards Pastoral. A couple hours after leaving the lot we were on top of the peak eating an early lunch and basking in the sun.  

The hope had been to ski south off Pastoral towards Granddaddy, but the chutes had been eaten by the wind, leaving windboard and talus in its wake. So, we changed plans and skied Pastoral's northwest face before heading for the sneaky pass to Devil's Mistress. 

After a short stretch of slippery shale and tundra we were rewarded with the untracked bowl. Nyssa dropped first, confirming that the sheltered catcher's mitt was holding lovely snow.

Dmitry picked a steep fin 50 yards further along the ridge. Watching his hips and hands drag along the spine as he dropped into the abyss, I realized just how steep his line was. 

From Mistress we dropped into the dark bottom of Bertha Creek and the approach to Granddaddy Peak. Skinning up the mild gradient of the glacially carved U-shaped valley was surprisingly efficient and we were soon at the pass between Pastoral and Granddaddy peaks. 

Of note, Granddaddy's north face holds several other interesting and tighter lines. Josh and Nikki went back the next day and skied one of these. Marked by the red arrow, they're calling it StepDaddy, an apt name.
Photo Josh Gray

At the scoured ridge efficient skinning evaporated and was replaced with slippery rime and icy rocks. 

This is my second time using this rime-route to access the peak and neither one has been particularly "good". But, booting up the couloir is less appealing. From the summit of the peak we looked back at Goldpan to count 60 sets of tracks!

Everyone was tired after the big day before, but cajoled by the promise that I would break trail back out everyone agreed to drop into Tommy Moe. The run was bathed in great golden afternoon light and was a real treat. 

Somehow I got first tracks on the main spine and was impressed with it. A light north wind had kicked up, and as I made each hanging turn on the knife-edge a bright spray of glittering snow dust blew into the empty space next to me.

Photo Connor Johnson

In the dark shade of the bowl we regrouped for the ascent back to the summit. Lots of small windslabs were lurking on the face and Dmitry had to repeatedly scamper out of the way as chunks released across the skintrack as I broke trail. Sorry D!

The snow was painted in pink light as we topped out and transitioned for the ski down the long north couloir to Bertha Creek.

Photo Dmitry Surnin

I'd forgotten how exposed the top of Granddaddy is and felt the tickle in my belly button as I cut out onto the double fall line. The snow was soft foam and a real treat to rip directionally as our slough poured into the gut below us. 

And this time, down in Bertha Creek in the growing dusk, we listened to Zack's route advice and skinned for the Superbowl egress, then one last near-dark lap down Magnum.

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