Thursday, January 23, 2020

Lynx Peak Ski - 1.11.2020

As we climbed out of the Webfoot couloir in the fading afternoon light a few weeks ago the Reed Lakes Valley was painted purple, pink, and gold by winter light. Looking at Montana Peak, I smiled back on the ridiculous day we had there a couple years ago, and drooled over the southwest face of Lynx Peak.

The image of Lynx was still burned in my retinas on the following Friday, so Zack, Nyssa, and Eric agreed to forgo easy powder skiing in favor of a long cold approach for variable wind-affect.

The Pinnacle was getting the first soft light of the morning as we turned away from Archangel and towards Reed Lakes. Its amazing to think that snow sticks to the other side of that vertical block. At least sort of.

Done with the approach to the approach, we wound up through the boulder fields of the valley as the arctic air carried by the north winds bit into our faces. Looking behind me, Nyssa looked more like an icicle than a human.

Behind Eric is Higher Spire which Alex, Alec, and I skied a few years ago - it links up nicely with several other nice lines behind the Snowbird.

The persistent winds had created a crackly windslab in the valley floor, and above us the foreshortened headwall of Lynx looked like a wind pillow teetering on the edge of collapse.

Uncertain about stability through the chute and onto the upper face, the other icicles shivered behind a rock while I sprinted up as fast as I could. Stopping in the crux of the chute for a pit, was relieved to find good bonding, then waited briefly for the others to zip up after me.

The upper face was not actually the hanging snowfield I'd expected - it was nice to know that we'd just bounce back down the chute below.

We made quick work of the face and were soon on the summit ridge. The 360 degree views from the top were absolutely incredible, we were above the inversion, and the winds had even died down. There were memories and ideas for more misadventures in every direction.

 After a lopsided debate over Zack's proposal to make a loop (and a significantly sloggier day) by skiing out the Mint Valley, we agreed to ski the southwest face we'd drooled over.

The descent down the headwall was actually surprisingly fine, maybe even good for "objective" snow. Or maybe all snow is good snow in sending goggles?

Regardless, in the perfect light no one seemed to care too much about the snow.

Below the chute we found settled powder hidden from the wind. It was the perfect icing on the top of a great line.


In the basin below there was discussion about a bonus lap. Some contended that it was -10 degrees and we were eight miles from the car. Others argued its doesn't count as exercise if its flat. I was reminded of a favorite line I've heard: "I don't measure distance in miles".

Somehow reason won. Eight miles later and still not quite needing headlamps we were back at the car and drinking slushy Panty Peelers.

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