Howard\Mustang Peak 3-27-10

>This one has been on my “winter list” for a few years now but weather, conditions, laziness and timing have stymied all previous opportunities. This season has been plagued by those same obstacles and although I missed winter by a week, the weather on the approach was far from spring-like.

End of the line. I parked at the turn off to Wildhorse canyon and snowmachined the 10or so miles to the trailhead. This photo really shows my style of riding, always stuck or about to be stuck. It also shows a few of the feeble layers in the snowpack.

Breaking weather. I set up camp in what felt like a safe spot on the lower slopes of the north face. (visibility was only a couple hundred feet) The wind blew a steady 20+ mph but died off as the clouds started to break and then quit completely by midnight. Hyndman peak just visible through the clouds

10 years ago, I trusted the weatherman about as much as an army recruiter but these days forecasting is usually spot on and I wasn’t surprised at all to wake up and see it bluebird.

I got to the summit at 11:00am after a slow and easy 3 hour skin. Zero wind and warm sunshine made it hard pretty to leave the view. This photo shows the true highpoint left on the ridge but there sure as hell aren’t any good ski lines off of it.

I’d hoped to ski down the large gully on the west face but an enormous avalanche had flushed out most of the snow and deposited it in massive pile on the plateau at 9,600’. I checked out a chute on North West face that had a heavy blanket of blown in snow. However, the top 3rd was a rock strewn 55* and the bottom had a definite terrain trap look about it so I settled on eeking my way down the West face through a minefield of boulders in 4” of new snow over hardpack. The turns were effortless even after a long pair of days. Hope that’s not the last powder day of the season!

Today, Eric and I are back to the ol standby in the Southern end of the range. My legs are toast, but access to these turns is just too easy. Almost all of the southern exposures have turned brown but anything white has settled into great corn.

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6 responses to “Howard\Mustang Peak 3-27-10

  1. >Wes, it's going to be interesting to see what this week of weather will bring to the central mountains.A great trip report; I'm glad you achieved your long awaited goal!

  2. >The photo of Hyndman is awesome! The 'bile is a useful tool but a pain at the same time I've found. I'm inspired by your drive to overcome the obstacles to access remote areas. Dean, Turbo and I ventured into the Wildhorse area once on a snowmachine looking for ice and ended up skinning on a dirt road. All in the sense of adventure. Hopefully the powder isn't done yet!

  3. >I agree, Wildhorse is one of those places I can’t get enough of and it’s drawn me in every time I’ve climbed any of its surrounding summits. Ricardo, Eric and I make a lot of noise every year about using the sleds to reach further and bigger but we rarely do. A snowmachine can, and has gotten me many miles from the truck, but I’m no motor head and when they break down, I react by staring stupidly under the hood hoping for a miracle. I got to ski some short lines in real powder on the lower North face above and then below camp, it was deep and soft but pretty unpredictable. The weather this week is definitely lookin up!

  4. Just came across your blog while searching for current (March 2012) snow conditions in the area. We are returning “home” to that part of the world soon and it’s nice to be reminded of what is in store. Can I guess the location of your ‘ol standby? It looks suspiciously like mine, too, or at least one of them.

    Cheers,
    Steven

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