Peak#13: March 11, 2016.
Ski Route: Northeast Face to North Face Couloir Direct
Roundtrip Mileage and Vertical: 15mi / 7,500′ (Includes Oxford and Belford all in the same day)
Ski Partners: Solo until Belford Summit
Start Time: 545am
Reached Summit: 1015am (30 minutes on the Summit)
End Time: 1015am back to basin at 12,900′ to head towards Oxford.
I left my house around 4am to head down south and get a good jump on Missouri, Belford and Oxford on Friday. The forecast was for light winds and sunny skies so I knew that a little effort could mean getting three peaks in a day. As I drove up the dirt road to the Missouri gulch trailhead I was pleasantly surprised at how much the road to the trailhead had melted out. In January I had come up the same road by way of snowmobile to access Huron. I didn’t expect to drive through some frozen sections of snow and then dirt road and reach the summer trailhead. Wow!
It was going to save me some excellent time to be able to start from the normal trailhead.
In early morning light around 545am I got moving skinning quickly up the switchbacks and into Missouri gulch. A nice snowshoe track from folks a few days earlier allowed me to reach timberline in the basin below Belford, heading towards Missouri in a quick hour and a half. The occasional gust greeted me, and I was soon skinning up the basin and into the throes of the northeast aspect of Missouri and above 13,000’ in the sunshine. A short break to put sunscreen on and then I put my skis on my pack and booted up to the north ridge.
When I got to the ridgeline, I had nothing but about a mile of short ups and downs on a fun and windblown ridge.
The sun was nice and warm, and the snow was firm, so I enjoy my stroll to the south and the views were impressive.
Near the summit there are a series of sharp points on the ridge, in the summer the trail passes to the west of them. The snow was firm enough to kick steps in the steep sideways incline, so I pushed across a short 150 yard section and was up on the summit by 1015am.
The north face couloir drops almost directly off the summit and into the elkhead basin below.
After a ski cut or two, the powder conditions felt perfect, so I pulled out my camera and filmed part of my descent.
Once I made it to the bottom – I put my skins back down in the basin at around 12,900′ and made my way towards Belford and Oxford. (Check out the Oxford Page to continue.)