McGowen Peak, Sawtooth Mtns., Idaho 6/5/99

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McGowen Peak, Sawtooth Mtns., Idaho 6/5/99

Postby Greg » Tue Apr 18, 2000 7:52 am

<I>(Note from the Administrator: This report was originally posted on 6/13/99. Due to our move to new servers, the date and time attributed to this post is incorrect.)</I> <BR> <BR>McGowen is mostly a sheer granite spire, jutting from the Stanley Basin's 7,000 foot ridges at the very north end of the Sawtooth Wilderness Area. In fact, McGowen is the northernmost peak in that range. On the north side of the almost 11,000 peak, there is a steep couloir that empties into a large bowl about half way down the mountain. It was our mission to ski that couloir, and it was inevitable that we would run into some snags along the way. <BR> <BR>First, we--three of us who live and work in Ketchum, Idaho--were late getting to the mountain. We knew that when the mountain thawed from the night's freeze, slumps and small slides would be abundant. Our original plan was to get to the base of the mountain at about 5 a.m. Instead, we rolled into the area, not quite the base of the mountain, at around 9 a.m. To boot, the road was still snowed in and we couldn't get as close to the mountain as we had planned. So, we started hiking. <BR> <BR>The hike was long. After some post-trip review, it looks like we travelled about seven miles in and seven more out. So much for an early start and solid snow. <BR> <BR>Ok, this is getting too long. I'm cutting to the chase. Hike up was tough. Deep snow, too steep to skin. Got to couloir and strapped on crampons and honed the ice axes. But the snow had softened too much. We were in extreme avalanche danger and were postholing. Carefully descended back to bottom of couloir. But that's when we skied. It was a fantastic ski. Good, heavy corn snow. With speed and a heavy edge, could throw a wall of snow, like waterskiing. In the lower trees, we encountered some good steeps that were not overheated yet. It was Crested Butte steep, Jackson Hole Steep, Blackcomb steep, Squaw steep. Whichever. We skied an avalanche chute through down the lower flanks of the mountain. <BR> <BR>Overall, a good start to the summer ski season.
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