Originally Posted by mdf
(Bob - if you feel like writing another chapter, I've been wondering about the headwall. Any insights?)
The Headwall is accessed by a boot pack, either up Pepi's Bench from a gate in the Cirque or from a steep boot pack behind the new restaurant at the top of the Bridger Gondola. The average time to of booting is about 15-20 minutes, but this varies a huge amount depending on your physical condition.
The Headwall is in a funny category; it's gate-accessed but within the avalanche-controlled part of the mountain. Therefore, it's *usually* pretty safe to ski but was once the site of one of the most enormous avalanches to ever occur inside a ski area in North America.
It's fun skiing, especially if you can be one of the first folks to get there after a new snowfall. It's a little funky if the visibility is bad because there are very few trees or rocks to provide definition. The other thing that makes it interesting is that it's a pretty convex slope up high, meaning that you can't really see what's below you as you're making your first few turns. That can be a little disconcerting, especially if you're new to the area.
The other bad thing about the Headwall is that it faces primarily southeast. That means that as soon as the sun comes out, the snow will probably start to get affected. It can be REALLY bad conditions at times.
The skier's-right main gully on the Headwall has a new name this year. It's the spot where Doug Coombs and the JH Ski Patrol had a bit of a disagreement about ten years ago (when the run was a closed area) and Doug ended up having his lift privileges revoked for a couple of years. That run is now named "Coombs".
If you've got a beacon, I would wear it if I were skiing the Headwall.