Wednesday, October 28, 2020

Peak 5100 - 3.22.2020

Some of the best days of backcountry skiing are the those spent easily linking valleys and peaks - climbing one valley wall then effortlessly skiing deeper. One March day in the Mint Valley was just that as we connected lap after lap around Delia Creek and Peak 5100.

In the cold of the clear early morning we skinned out of the dark parking lot and into the hanging valley north of Delia Creek. We followed our skintrack from a few days before which was barely visible under a thick blanket of new snow. 

Photo: Brandon Schmidt

We wrapped upwards around the back of the valley and into the sun. At the top we soaked up the warm spring light and views of the big peaks rising from the Little Su, then transitioned to descend back into the shade.

Photo: Brandon Schmidt

When Brandon and his skis slid over the dark edge we knew it was going to be a good day. There was no sign of a surface slab as the faceted pow sloughed lighted away from his turns. 

Going from one safe spot to the next we worked our way down the curving banana chute. Erin:

Photo: Brandon Schmidt

From the bottom we watched Erin cranked deep turn after glorious turn thru the apron.

Back at up-track from an hour before, it was time to reap the rewards from the early work and yoyo up.

Photo: Brandon Schmidt

The top brought more crisp sun and we decided to stay in it a little longer by skiing east. Delia Peak is center left while Peak 5100 is center; they both have several skiable aspects that are perfect for lapping once a couple up-tracks are installed.

Photo: Brandon Schmidt

Following the theme of easy travel, the route would take us deeper towards Delia and 5100. Nyssa:

And with that was another flop from spring warmth to wintery shade. We hustled to transition and start the spiral towards the summit of Peak 5100. Above me are 5100's north chutes, many of these can be safely entered by sneaking around the school bus cornices:

Photo: Brandon Schmidt

The spiral brought us to a sub ridge of the peak, and back into the light. 

Photo: Brandon Schmidt

Sticking with the easy-travel theme, we used the far side of the ridge to move into another valley. Nyssa and Erin found a fun sneak chute to rip. Erin:


After three laps, our directional travel had finally brought us to the last piece of the curl to 5100. Tucked away on the left sub-peak of Delia is a bonus chute that not only looks like a whale (according to Josh), but is also a great way to squeeze out more easy vert. Its lurking under the fin on the left:

Photo: Brandon Schmidt

Nyssa lead the charge and put in a zipper of a skintrack to the saddle from where we were drooling over Delia's west. 

From the summit Lone Tree Gulch stretched towards the heart of the Mint Valley. Souvenir is visible as the bears ears on the horizon, as is Arcose Peak. What a stacked zone, and still so much to explore.

After breaking trail, Nyssa earned first tracks.

With the magic carpet already established, it only made sense to go back for more. Like I said, the skin was a zipper.

Up next was the north face of 5100. Finding our way around the behemoth dangling cornices was a bit tedious and took some back and forth as we, tiptoed, peered, and then triangulated a work around. It was worth the effort.

But. Wait. Wait. Wait. I think we missed one! 

Photo: Brandon Schmidt

The only logical solution was to take advantage of our spiraling skintrack and go back up for more. Finding the trapdoor thru the cornices took probing, poking, and pole-whacking. Again, it was worth it. Nyssa:


Unfortunately there are only so many hours of March daylight and we were running low, so we starting breaking a long trail ascending towards the ridge overlooking Gold Mint. Well aware of the lurking deep instabilities, Brandon and Nyssa stretched out hundreds of yards behind me. Catching up at the top, they were all smiles.

A the end of the day, its these smiles that mean the most.

And with those smiles plastered on our faces we slipped into two thousand feet of powder painted in golden evening light towards the parking lot, LaCroix, and beer.

1 comment:

  1. Haha, looks like a fun day. I hit that northwest chute on 5100, I think one storm cycle before this (and utilized your skintrack in the valley to the west), and got pretty much that exact same picture of my buddy :)