>Skiing Breintenbach has been on my to do list for sometime. Every time I’ve been getting ready to descend Super Gully I look longingly over at the basin at the head of Pete Creek and dream of the lines over there. Finally everything came together and I got to hit it Saturday.
Frankly, when Dave Hurley and I drove up to the trail head at 6 am Saturday I wasn’t feeling the vibe. First, we’d gotten lost driving in. Anyone whose been into the Lost River Peaks knows how driving around there in dark goes. Plus, it was raining. The night had been overcast, so I guessed the snow hadn’t frozen. We where hoping for snow to ease the Pete Creek bushwhack epic, but no luck. So we strapped our boards to our packs and started the dejected slog through the brush.
At about 8500′ we found enough snow to attempt skinning. We stepped into our bindings and immediately broke through the snow up to our knees. Ugh… not a good sign. The first couple hundred feet was nasty, busting through nearly every step. Post holing with skis on is a suck-fest. But we stuck with it and by the time we cleared tree line the snow was starting to hold firm.
Then we got our first good look at the basin. Wow! Ski lines everywhere! The main route to the summit of Brientenbach looked wind hammered, but the bowl directly in front of us looked good. We were able skin up to about 10,000′, then we donned the crampons and continued towards the saddle separating Brientenbach from Point 11,467. The snow was punchy, but we were able to walk on some old avalanche debris that was fairly solid. The heat of the sun was increasing and it was getting hot fast. About 11,000′ we started to punch through up to our waists and the size of the “cinnamon rolls” were increasing. We decided it had reached Ski-O’clock.
The ski down into Pete Creek was fantastic. Classic Lost River corn. Unfortunately it was strictly gomer turns because we knew it was going to quickly change from sweet corn to leg-breaking crust without warning. The last few hundred feet down consisted of rotten, bottomless snow. Skiing is a bit of a trick when you’re punching through up to your knees. But we made it, with only one epic face plant.
Spring descents in the Lost Rivers are always an adventure, but it’s never a disappointment. Let’s hope the season holds out a few more weeks!