The backcountry off Teton Pass is heavily trafficked, but you would be surprised how concentrated that traffic is around the closest tours. I guess it isn’t that surprising considering you hike less and ski more downhill with the closer lines, but I enjoy the touring part of ski touring. So I will often head out to the Claws, or even further. This weekend, since both Rob and I were recovering from the Jackson crud, we settled for the Claws and Avy Bowl.
It is always great to get back to Steamboat. In my eyes, Steamboat is the greatest family resort. With one central base area, my parents felt fine having me rip the mountain, knowing that I would eventually funnel to the bottom at the end of the day, tired and ready to eat heaping plates of pasta and elk bolognese. Growing up, Steamboat never failed to continue to challenge my skiing from top to bottom from White Out bump runs to airing into the Chutes. Most importantly though, the locals are quick to turn a cold chair lift ride into a fun conversation.
Every season I live away from Steamboat, the more excited I am to come back home for vacation with the family. Events like night skiing, tubing and friday night art walks are among the highlights of my youth. Going downtown with the family for a walk on the Core Trail or to watch ski jumping while catching up on life still make my time in Steamboat a highlight.
Right out the back door of the cabin on Sand Mountain in Clark, and a short 20 minute snowmobile ride up lies Meaden Peak. Meaden has some incredible tree skiing, but more importantly, it has an awesome view from the top and some great steeps. Rob and I first skied the NW aspect last year, but wanted to put turns on the NE side, so we could view them from the cabin.
Rob and Sam set a really steep skin track to the top, and the skin across the ridge was completely worth it. With 360 degree views it would have been perfect, except for the clouds moving in and blocking the sun as the day went on.
The NE face offered some great turns but almost zero visibility as a cloud descended once again.
The face offered up untouched deep and steep goods that we throught were alright. Just as sweet were the lower turns through widely spaced pines on the way down to meet my parents at the snowmobiles.
It has been the backdrop for many of my adventures growing up: building a kicker in the backyard, clearing fallen trees,epic bonfires, and long hikes with the family dog. It is a lone volcano shaped peak in a sea of ridges. Hahns Peak has been on my skiing bucket list for a long time.
Finally, with the encouragement of Rob and Sam, it was going to happen. We loaded up the snowmobiles for the approach with the temperatures a balmy -11 F, and roared off in a two stroke cloud. The snowmobile ride brought us from the cabin near Sand Mountain to the northern side of Hahns Peak.
We started our skin through an incredible, old-growth aspen grove. A few of the trees were wider than my wingspan, truly huge for an aspen tree. As we neared the cloud ceiling visibility got continually foggier.
On the last push to the ridge, I could barely tell the difference between the snow under, my feet, the stuff falling from the sky, and the fog. It was a nauseating couple of switchbacks, only helped by closing my eyes. Once on the ridge, the visibility was a bit better, and it highlighted the cliffs on both sides. Those of you who know how much I LOVE heights won’t be surprised when I say that I made the traverse fairly quickly.
The building at the top of Hahns used to be a fire watch-tower, and the watchman would live at the top year round. Rumor has it they are going to open it to the public starting in the fall, which is too bad, because we could have used a reprieve from the wind right then. Instead we settle for a few Oreos, some elk jerky (fresh – thanks mom and dad!), and got ready for the descent.
Which wasn’t bad at all!