Stuart Range 3/13-16
Kirk, Jordan and I scored some nice weather during a four day stretch we had taken off and lugged heavy packs out into the Stuart Range to sample some north facing terrain.
Continuous snow starts from the Icicle and the skinning up to Colchuck Lake went smoothly with an easy track to follow and only moderate skin glopping. We dropped overnight gear off at the lake and watched a pair of skiers arc some nice turns down the glacier.
With high clouds blocking the sun for a good portion of the day we decided to give the North Buttress Couloir a look. There were no signs of rockfall or any significant debris but we failed to consider how much ambient air temps on Saturday would effect things. A few hundred feet up the line a sizable rock released off the wall which Jordan narrowly avoided. We quickly bailed and happily enjoyed mellow turns from the Colchuck saddle.
Sunday we awoke to cold temperatures and cloudy skies. We returned back to the NBC and had an uneventful boot to the top. Ski conditions were good enough to enjoy the descent and link comfortable jump turns. We scootched back to camp and quickly packed up as light snow began to fall.
We set up our second camp in a meadow about a mile down Mountaineer Creek from the Colchuck junction. Precipitation Sunday afternoon just barely held on as snow but got us excited at the thought of a few inches of fresh up high.
Monday morning brought temperatures in the teens and clear skies. Our goal for the day was to check out some of the Northeast Couloirs off of Sherpa. Skinning along Mountaineers Creek involved some creative route finding but was made easy by the fat snowpack. Once in the basin below Sherpa Peak we were drawn to the obvious NE Couloir. We found much better snow conditions in this line than NBC and we all really enjoyed the remote feeling in this basin. We had hoped to give the couloir climbers left of our line a go but the looming cornices in the sun gave us concern.
On our final day we went up into the Stuart Basin with plans to ski the Sherpa Glacier Couloir. A few hundred feet above the shrund we started to have some wind slab concerns. With amazing settled powder on the glacier below it was an easy decision to flip. The turns down the Sherpa Glacier were the best of the trip.
This trip really highlighted some of the incredible skiing the Stuart Range has to offer and we felt we barely scratched the surface!