Mt. Lincoln 4x P500 PD
Mt. Disney 2x
Crows Nest

Sun, Apr 1, 2012

With: Debbie Newcomb

Story Photos / Slideshow Map GPX Profile
Mt. Lincoln previously climbed Sun, Jan 10, 2010
Mt. Disney previously climbed Sat, Feb 3, 2007

The second day of our Sugar Bowl weekend was much better than the first. A foot of new snow had fallen since the previous day and Sunday dawned cold and mostly clear. The strong winds had died down. Once again we were late getting to the ski area and out on the slopes (few things in Scouting move at a normal pace), but that mattered little - if I'd planned to snowboard I would have felt far different, getting antsy watching all that fresh powder getting tracked up ahead of me. After we got all the Scouts out on the slopes, Debbie Newcomb joined me for some snowshoeing up the Mt. Judah chair, her first time on snowshoes. It was easy to see that she was in good shape, having little trouble keeping up. Though we kept to the edge of the groomed runs, the effort was not trivial as the slope was fairly steep and we got a good workout, taking about an hour to reach the saddle above the Mt. Judah chairlift. A group of backcountry skiers and snowboarders had reached it before us and were getting ready to head outside the ski area.

After taking in the views, we headed back down. To keep it interesting, I took Debbie through the ungroomed snow to give her the full experience. Not surprising, she had some trouble with balance and fell over regularly, but she seemed to enjoy herself nonetheless and kept a great attitude. We were back shortly before noon in order to join the Scouts for lunch. Everyone looked like they were having a much better time than the previous day when high winds and blowing snow added to the challenges.

In the afternoon I was on my own and decided to head up to the top of Mt. Lincoln and then traverse the ridgeline to Mt. Disney, a challenging endeavour. It is not possible to follow along portions of the ridge directly, and since the northeast side is lined with cliffs, the only reasonable option is to drop down some on the southwest side and traverse the slopes until the ridgeline can be regained. This proved a difficult task with some icy conditions where the upper reaches were wind-blasted by the recent storm, and potential avalanche conditions lower down where the snow settled over a hardpack base. The wind-blasted rocks were covered in rime making for picturesque scenes, but I would not want to have been here the previous day when visibility would have been nil and the conditions awful. Where the snow had settled atop the older base, it seemed to hold up when the depth was more than about six inches. Less than that and I would find my foot slipping out quite easily as the snow slid off the old crust. To counter this, I would let the snow slide off and then reset the edges of the snowshoe into the underlying crust where it could get a firm bite. This took some time to make sure I wasn't recklessly traversing across the slope and I spent some 45 minutes to get from Mt. Lincoln to the saddle with Mt. Disney. There are cliffs on the southwest side as well, keeping me from just descending a chute to the valley below and reclimbing to Mt. Disney, but a traversing route can be picked across the slopes if care is taken. There was one tricky bit of downclimbing that I had to do facing into the slopes, but thankfully this was short and not very exposed.

Once at the saddle it was back to easy snowshoeing as I followed the crest up to Mt. Disney. From there I continued west to Crows Nest, a rocky point at the edge of the ski area that I had not visited before. Skiers had already beaten a boot track up to the top of it in order to reach the untracked snow on its north side. I climbed up to the very top where I took some pictures of the views (N - E - S - W) and met up with another visitor. He had left his skis just below the final summit and watched as I headed off the north side down an initially steep slope that again had me facing into the mountain. "You trust those things?" he asked as he nervously watched me descend the 15ft to easier terrain. "I do," was my reply. I had great fun descending through the glade of trees with plenty of deep snow, much of it untracked. Snowboarding would have been better, but I still had a blast. Eventually I returned to the main ski area and lodge, then hiked through the village to the Judah Lodge where we were meeting at the end of the day. This afternoon loop took a bit more than three hours, and gave me plenty of excitement. All in all, a very fine day.

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