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Would You Call This FUN!?!?!?! Skiing Beartooth Pass on 9-1-2012

post #1 of 15
Thread Starter 

September of 2012 was to be a major milestone in my consecutive-month skiing odyssey.  


The whole thing started back in 1997 when  we were living in Salt Lake City and I was able to ski in October because the Park City resort opened for Halloween weekend.  By that following June, I had skied 9 months in a row and somebody suggested I should try to ski through the summer so I could say I had skied every month of the year.  That led to all kinds of craziness over the years and a lot of great memories.  Interestingly enough, some of the greatest memories came from some of the most miserable experiences.


Anyway, we're going to be away from home for most of September so I decided to do this year's September skiing on day 1, so to speak.  Saturday, September 1, 2012, would be my 180th consecutive month of skiing.


On Friday, I left Jackson Hole at 5am to go fishing in Yellowstone National Park. I was driving under a bright full moon on my way to fish on Slough Creek in the northeastern corner of the park.  


Driving along, it just hit me - I got the crazy idea that skiing Beartooth at MIDNIGHT on Sept 1 under a FULL MOON would be an unforgettable experience.  I even kicked myself for not realizing that if I'd known ahead of time about the full moon, I could have planned to ski my August turns at 11:30pm and then my September turns at midnight.  What a two-fer that could have been!


On Slough Creek, I had one of the most incredible days of trout fishing ever in my life, so the trip was already in bonus time before I ever even got to Cooke City where I was going to stay overnight.  The only downside was that the first clouds and rain in weeks came in that afternoon and the sky was definitely overcast.  Night skiing - alone - on leftover runnels and sun cups would be "relatively" foolhardy in bright moonlight, but it would be pretty darned stupid in a thunderstorm.  So, I switched back to the original plan of getting up on Saturday morning, driving to the Pass, and doing my skiing the "normal" way.


Well, plans are great but the weather doesn't always cooperate.


When I left Cooke City on Saturday morning, the clouds were hovering about a thousand feet above the valley.  As I approached the pass, I drove into the cloud and visibility dropped to maybe 50-75 feet.  The top of the pass was enveloped in a thick cloud.  


As I loaded my pack, I started wondering whether this was a very good idea.  The top of the pass is nearly 11,000 feet in elevation and there are no trees or even big rock features to provide definition.  There's definitely no trail to "my" snowfield, so I would have to find my way there and back in a cloud.  I was fairly confident I could point myself in the right direction to get TO the snowfield, but I wasn't so sure about getting back.  And - OF COURSE - I had not brought along a compass.


Then, I hit on the age-old idea of using rock cairns to mark my way.  I figured if I built little cairns on the way out, I could use them to find my way back.


So, here's my first cairn.  The car is about thirty yards beyond that pile of rocks on the horizon and I'm in the process of building another cairn:




I actually did almost get lost.  I knew that it should only take me about 15 minutes and 300 vertical feet to get to the top of the snowfield.  After not reaching the snow in 20 minutes and 350 vertical feet (I have an altimeter watch), I decided I was either west or east of the snowfield but I wasn't sure which.  Two more cairns got me to a rock outcropping where I could make out that I was west of the snow by a good 100 yards.  I was at least thirty degrees off-course from where I should have been, but I found the snow:




I skied down the west shoulder for a ways, but since it's a convex slope and I wasn't sure what was below me, I ended up far to skier's right of where I should have been.  This snowfield has been shrinking over the years since I first skied it, but there was a very cool bergschrund right in the center of it.  I should also mention that there's nothing in these photos to give any scale.  The vertical wall in this photo is maybe 40 feet high: 




By now the clouds had thinned to the point that I could see that a huge, NEW crevasse had opened up above the bergschrund.  This is the new crevasse that is just uphill of the wall in the above photo:




So I scrabbled on over to the skier's left side of the crevasse and skied on down to the bottom.  The last little rollover is pretty interesting as it really drops off to about 50 degrees for the last three or four turns.  Here I am loaded for the hike back up (I did two laps), with my final tracks in the background:




You can see from the photos that the skiing wasn't exactly high quality, but it was still another cool adventure.

post #2 of 15

Wow Bob - You are AWESOME!!!

post #3 of 15

Wow Bob that snow looks a bit sticky.  Nice adventure !

post #4 of 15

Dang! My likey!

post #5 of 15
Yes indeed Bob , you are awesome.
post #6 of 15

What time of day did you fish Slough Creek and did you hike to the upper meadows?

post #7 of 15
Thread Starter 
Originally Posted by tetonpwdrjunkie View Post

What time of day did you fish Slough Creek and did you hike to the upper meadows?


Hi, tpj.


I hiked to the upper end of the second meadow.  Started fishing around 11:00am.  I fished a few riffles and bends up there for about two hours and then just fished my way to the bottom of the second meadow and then fished the lower half of the first meadow.  I pretty much just walked the banks downstream and fished either to fish I could see hanging in the current or ones I could see rising.


The sky was clear and there was no wind when I started and the first three fish I caught were on a pmd spinner that was the lower half of a hopper/dropper combo.  After about a half hour, the clouds rolled in and the wind came up (at times it was VERY windy).  As soon as the wind started, the fish came after the hopper.  So much so that after about ten more fish I just clipped off the dropper, shortened the leader (probably to only about a 7-foot leader down to 3x), and fished the hopper.  The fly was a Jay Morrish foam hopper, tan body in size 12.  I never changed that fly the whole day.  I landed at least 20 fish from 15" to 17" with a couple of slightly bigger ones.  


I'm sure I missed at least that many strikes.  The strikes were super SSLLLLLOOOOOOWWWWW.  It's so hard not to try to set the hook and jerk the fly away when you see a nice fish come up and just hang an inch under the fly for a couple of seconds.  It's like waiting an eternity for the fish to open its mouth and actually eat the fly.


I have no idea whether the wind and clouds were the main reason the fishing was so good.  Whatever it was, that was one of my best days of trout fishing.  Ever.


If you're going up there, give me a call.  I can pinpoint three or four spots that were loaded with nice fish.  icon14.gif


By the way... I was helping that friend of mine fish over by Wilson today.  It got windy and I tied on that little purple parachute ant you told me about.  She caught two really nice fish on it, including a big, fat, yellow/orange 19" cutt.  She was thrilled.  Thanks for the recommendation.

post #8 of 15

So Bob let me ask you. Have you ever tried fishing and catching at least one fish every month of the year?   wink.gif

post #9 of 15

I went to Flat Creek today and caught my first fish there.  I think I just got lucky.  Should have gone to the Snake.  I have 2 drift boats now.  Let me know if you want to float.

post #10 of 15

Wow.  Bob, that new crevasse is like staring into the abyss!  Man.  Thanks for sharing the adventure and glad it all worked out ok.  You are my ski hero..its a big burden you carry!

post #11 of 15

Way to keep it going Bob, you're an inspiration to us lazy youngers. wink.gif

post #12 of 15
Thread Starter 
Originally Posted by volantaddict View Post

Way to keep it going Bob, you're an inspiration to us lazy youngers. wink.gif



You're about as lazy as Lance Armstrong.

post #13 of 15
Thread Starter 

These photos show an interesting evolution of this snowfield.  I first skied it in 2006.  At that time, the vertical wall in my current photos was formed a big bergschrund that had separated from the main snowfield.  If you compare the 2006 photo to the September 2012 photo, you'll see that all of the snow on the downhill side of the 2006 bergschrund has completely disappeared by the 2012 photos.  Not only that, a huge new crevasse has opened up to the uphill side of the original crevasse.  It appears to me that this snowfield is in the throes of a violent but slow-motion death.


2006 looking from the east side of the snowfield:





2008 on the west flank:




2012 at the end of June:




2012 on the first of September:



Edited by Bob Peters - 2/10/16 at 7:19am
post #14 of 15

Did you check the avy reports before that hike Bob?duck.gif



Yep, I'm jealous here in the 90 degree heathissyfit.gif



Rock on as you do so well!

post #15 of 15

Congratulations on Month 180 Bob!

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