Mount Church N. Face 6-19-10

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Here are a few photos of an impromptu ski trip off of Mt. Church on Saturday. I’d been planning it and waiting for the weather to settle for nearly a month but Brando ditched work immediately when I invited him along at the last minute.

Three hours of driving took us to the end of the road in the east fork of Upper Pahsimeroi and after another three hours of hiking through heavy timber we arrived at the 9700’ mouth of the massive Mount Church cirque. We set up camp near a large tarn just past the mouth and enjoyed what was left of the day, watching evening shadows chase the light up our impending route.

At 4am I started melting snow for coffee and extra water, we ate and got dressed in a very leisurely fashion and then started climbing at 05:28, three hours later we were eating lunch on the summit.

Skinning into the mouth of the cirque,
Mount Church dominates the background. We set up camp just beyond

Brandon puts the finishing touches on his sleeping gear.
The tarn, viewed just below his left knee is starting to show signs of melting.

Climbing out of the shadows.
I was only able to skin to about 10,500’ The recent snow left a thin veneer of crust on the surface and even my ski crampons wouldn’t bite in. Those same conditions made for easy boot-packing though.

Navigating the ridge. I’ve been up this ridge enough times to know how steeply it drops off the SW side so I was a little worried about topping out on an overhanging cornice, and although the ridge is riddled with them, we lucked out.

Brandon nearing the top.
He was super fit and stoked on this, his second trip to the top. He and I teamed up for a standard-route-winter climb a few years earlier that turned into a 17 hour truck to truck epic march in high winds and bad snow.

Ahhh, the summit!
Hitting the eject button on my pack was pretty gratifying, we spent 45 minutes on top taking in the scene and eating lunch. A 3mph breeze coming out of the west was welcome company after the stifling conditions on the East face.

Brandon, Big Stepping just below the top.
He’s not a skier but made very good time coming down.

Descending the North face.
We climbed and descended the same
route Marc Hanselman
Did on May 17th The skiing was amazing! The little pinwheels in this and the previous photo had come off the day before and were a little crusty but I only had to ski through a short section of them. Definitely another Hard to reach Idaho classic ski!


6 responses to “Mount Church N. Face 6-19-10

  1. >Nice job guys! Looks like a perfect spring day in the LR's. Great shot of the ridge walk above the cornice…. You mentioned your ski crampons. Are you using Dynafit bindings? If so are they easy to get on and off mid slope or do you start skinning with them on?

  2. >Way to get after the "good stuff" Wes! Man, I just love those bluebird days in the mountains. Great photos, description and ski!!

  3. >Thanks Guys! Ricardo, Unfortunately they don't make a freak size Dynafit boot so I use a Fritschi binding and Axion binding. Great little combo, very easy to hook on and engage. I've climbed myself into some awkward situations when the conditions were right.The weather couldn't have been better but I had to wait for a month to get it. Ha!

  4. >Brandon doesn't ski? Brandon! Time to learn, 'cuz that is what it is all about!!Great stuff Wes! I'm jealous!!!JB

  5. >No ice Marc, not even hanging off the rocks. I was pretty happy with how much snow there was. It was heavily covered but I was only able to ski down the the Waterfall where it abruptly ended.

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