a Northern Absaroka ski traverse

... a land of petrified trees, exquisite wildlife habitat, and hillsides of goblin like formations. 
-Thomas Turiano

Exceptionally good powder skiing around Cooke City right now, but super stoked to embark on a ski traverse of the Northern Absarokas/ Yellowstone Park tomorrow.
From the Soda Butte to the North Shoshone.
50+ miles of profoundly WILD backcountry skiing...


picked up a Park permit today (camping), and skied out to Tower Falls.

pretty funny how naive they were to 'the plan'. 

lots of mental preparation for this one (more on this later)

Also had a long conversation with an otter.

Commonly understood to be one of the coolest animals around.


back on the horse

Had big east facing plans this morning..
but high clouds at 5am were enough to convince me back to bed…
And once things get leisurely, they tend to sustain themselves.
thus, I ended up sitting around drinking coffee
reading newspapers and eating cinnamon rolls until 9am (!).
Which would normally be relatively ordinary (Cooke City time is akin to ‘island time’).  But with a foot of fresh, light snow and rapidly warming daytime temps… timing is critical.

So, I did the only sane thing, and went WEST… 
Managing to redeem myself, with over 10k' vert.  All super-fun pow turns.

Following a wood sauna last night, it was just what the doctor ordered.


the wolverine way

Skied Mt. Wolverine today.  In Yellowstone Park.
  (nothing quite like climbing a mountain in stormy weather)
found some nice light along the way though

Also currently reading The Wolverine Way.  Fascinating animals.
Haven't ever seen one.   But found fresh tracks last March, in the same drainage..
with the ski being 15cm wide.

Did however, cut 5-minute-fresh coyote tracks while skiing off the peak today.

Ever ski up behind a coyote and pull his tail?! (counting coup)
I've come close a few times, and today was another close one (he made it to the flats super fast).
Would be hilarious to have a POV shot of that action.

But anyway, and unknown to me, Freedle and the Level 1 crew were a sand-wedge away, and watched this avalanche go down. 

West facing Crown Butte (two photos by Freedle).


What's it like to live in Cooke City?

Well, yesterday I broke one of the Ten Commandments (I didn’t go skiing!).  Instead I spent the day doing chores (like chopping wood for three hours).  Also put my running shoes on for the first time in FOUR months.. as there is so much snow around here, one must don boots to get from place to place. (Lovely jog into the Park btw.)  Waxed my skis.   Basically just prepped for the home stretch.

And today, Town Hill.  Followed by my 49th trip (at least) up Republic Creek this winter.  A fine ski club outing..  7” of fresh snow in town overnight (double that up high ;).  And viola, superb powder skiing again.  Classic Cooke City.


get busy living

upper east-facing Republic Creek today

din din?
this is a wolverine hair-snare, in case you are curious

and speaking of good food... was thoroughly spoiled last night at a dinner party.
Enchiladas,  guacamole, more margaritas...  multiple bottles of mouth-watering Malbec.
(one really gains an appreciation for good food and company while wintering in Cooke City)

It also snowed another 16 inches in town overnight (finishing with calm winds and colder temps ;)
Yep.  The St. Patrick's Day stoke has been high.

Sue and John, were lovin' it today in Yellowstone Park
Outstanding to see their progression throughout the day.


dropping the hammer

nothing quite like committing to big couloir climb 
and just hammering up it

super fun to get up on these high ridges
with a handful of plans
and see where intuition takes you…

yesterday it took me into Sheep Creek
 then across the Soda Butte, for an evening on Mt. Republic

Down in Gardiner for a resupply today (it's been three weeks ;).  
Just watched two bald eagles fly crazy-low (15 feet) over me in the Boiling River.

Awesome day in the hills yesterday.  PHotos to follow soon..


buffalo, as a verb

out with the Level 1 posse today.
Parker White

from a zone they call Buffalo, in upper Goose Creek.
 Adam Delorme


winter is hanging in there... just barely though.
nearly 40 degrees today in Cooke City!  
a few roof-alanches, and some glopping skins.. 
but when when it cools down and sets up, should be prime for some ski mountaineering.
(spent the day shooting time lapses atop Mt. Republic, in 50 mph winds ;)


an open invitation

To celebrate spring, tomorrow evening at the Lair (around 5:30).
Come enjoy a margarita, in a tin cup.  And an ice cold Ranier.

Anyone reading this is more than welcome (you know who you are ;).
  So if in the neighborhood, please stop by.

Also an open invitation to ski tunnel-lines in YNP..!

or just the usual rounds south of town.


the ski touring has been absolutely Incredible around Cooke City lately.

Two feet of fresh snow (bonded very well to the old snow surface).
And hardly a wisp of wind !!! (until today)

Thus, nearly 40 thousand vert of deep powder riding in the last five days.
Super stoked on the experience.


hands down

the deepest day of the year
photo by Pat Cross, of the Big Timber Pioneer


Keeping a thumb on the pulse

Full-on-farm today.
Skied about 7k’, with around 5k’ placed- side by side by side. 

Roughly six inches of settled storm snow, with twice that in favored locations.
Wonderfully manageable right now.


A friend has dubbed this the Rock of Gibraltar

The Rock of Gibraltar was one of the Pillars of Hercules and in ancient times marked the limit to the known world, a myth originally fostered by the Phoenicians..

A unique feature of the Rock is its system of underground passages, known as the Galleries or the Great Siege Tunnels.
wtih Morocco on the left, and Spain on the right.

But seriously though, the snowpack has set up really nicely around Cooke City.  
Thanks to the recent winds, and warm temps.
Not full-on bomber (as in ski anything with snow), but progressing along appropriately.

And with a few inches of graupel just fallen, and a handful more forecasted tonight, things are shaping up well for the weekend. (and March)


There is the old tale of blind philosophers studying an elephant..

One feels the tail and declares an elephant is like a snake.

Another feels the ear and declares the elephant is like a palm frond. 

A third feels the foot and declares the elephant is like a tree. 

What does all this have to do with backcountry skiing and Cooke City?
You decide.