Monday, June 1, 2020

Bear Crack Ski - 3.9.2020

The first time we tried the Bear Crack we were racing increasing winds. As we closed in on the top, the winds ramped up, and a natural washed over us. Seconds later a bigger one took Nyssa's ski pole for a 500 ft ride. It wasn't the day to be in an incised terrain trap, and we bailed.

On a calmer day a week later, Jordan and I went back for redemption.

As we left the little parking lot next to the lake, large fluffy flakes were drifting down around us, and skinning into the birch forest felt like going through the wardrobe to Narnia.

At the campground we turned left and waded thru devils club and alders towards the base of the line. Below treeline couloirs are rare in these parts, and seeing full grown cottonwoods inside the lower line was confusing. 30 minutes from the parking lot, we were out of the shrubs, prickly things, and trees.

The walls of the rock gash were saturated by the orange colors of lichen that had taken up residence there.

A couple hours from the car, Jordan and I were burrowing through the cornice to top out the line. The car is somewhere 3,000 feet below in the clouds.

We drank a cider in the swirling dendrites, talked about what a great winter it had already been, then dropped into the upper bowl. Jordan:

I waited for Jordan to disappear into the cleft in the earth, then raced after him.

We pushed growing piles of slough in front of us as we jump-turned down, and the skiing improved as each turn stacked more loose snow onto the slough cones.

From the highway the Bear Crack looks impossibly tight - maybe too tight to ski, but it stayed at least 8 feet wide and we were pleasantly surprised to be able to turn down the entire thing. 

Lower down the alders grew over us, and we skied into the tube of rocks and branches.

As we skied lower the vegetation got thicker, grabbier, and pokier. When the skiing became too hazardous we booted back to the trail, then skinned to the parking lot in the fading light.

Back on Camp Gorsuch Road, the subie was covered in a blanket of new snow and waiting for us.

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