Fadgen's Adventures

Fadgen's Adventures
Green Creek Lake

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Backcountry Ski Trip - Copper Mountain

Copper Mountain when seen from the road
Dylan and I have been slowly procuring some telemark gear in hopes of trying out backcountry skiing this winter.  When John Platt (http://www.splattski.com/) put out an open invitation for a beginners backcountry ski trip on Idaho Summits (http://www.idahosummits.com/) we jumped at the opportunity.  After a little forum back and forth, we met up with John, Ralph and Chris just above Banner Summit in anticipation of skiing Copper Mountain. Too bad no other beginners were there to share the experience with us though.  Like John said, it may have had to do with the frigid temperatures we had been having this week.

We started down the road with a light snowfall and a temperature of 6 degrees.  Cold!  Once we put on our skis and started skinning up the trail it didn't take long for us to heat up and make a stop to take some layers off.

In fact, by the time we had hit the steep spots roughly an hour into the climb I was down to my base layer without hat or gloves.  So much for being cold!

Skinning up

It took us about three hours to reach the summit of Copper which required skinning up 2000 vertical feet. I heard Ralph say - "You are earning your turns" and boy did we.  Skinning is much easier than snowshoeing but you are still climbing a mountain in the snow.  Once on top it was a little windy and foggy.  We took a breather to put our layers back on and gaze over the edge at some large cornices.  Ralph and Chris decided to stay up top to cut some of these cornices with Ralph's cornice saw, so John, Dylan and I pulled our skins off and proceeded to hit some untracked.

John giving us some pointers on cornices and tea

Looking over the north edge - carefully!

Dylan in anticipation of hitting the powder bowl behind him!

The powder was awesome!  Nothing like skiing snow where the only tracks were made by small animals!  Since we haven't started our tele skiing class (this Thursday) our form was tenuous at best, but it didn't matter since the snow was fantastic.  Did I mention how fabulous the snow was?  Before we knew it we were at the lunch meeting spot where we stopped to get a bite to eat, chat, and smile.

It was very difficult to wipe the smiles off our faces after that run!
We finished off lunch with the sun starting to peek out and the mountian showing our tracks.  John told us that we still had a big bowl left to ski before we hit the trail back to the cars. Without much prodding, we quickly put on our skis and proceeded to hit some more incredible powder.
A few of the turns
It didn't take long for us to reach the trees and the trail out.  We hadn't seen Ralph or Chris yet and since we were still smiling, we twisted John's arm and asked to skin back up and do it again.  Well not all the way up, just to the lunch spot.  Good thing it was only halfway up too - that great feeling after some fabulous powder turns starts to wear off after some tough skinning back up.  At least it was for me.  It was hard holding Dylan back - next time I'm bringing a bungee cord so he can drag me up.

Here are a couple of videos that John shot:

The second run was probably better than the first - but all good things must come to an end.  We met up with Chris and Ralph at the trail head and all cruised down the skin trail back to the cars.  All in all we were out climbing and skiing close to 6 hours.

Hopefully there will be a few more backcountry skiing trip reports here.  Now we just need to get some gear for Tam and get her out here with us!

Once again we would like to Thank John, Ralph and Chris for showing us the ropes, providing great tips, and allowing us to join them!

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A team of adventurers consisting of John, Tamara, Taylor, Dylan, and Shadow Fadgen