Leader: Forest Dean
Participants: Brent Maier, Frank Dean, Tim Ward, Jacob McFarlane
A couple winters ago, Brent had skied up on East Boulder and spied a fairly big ice flow. Ever since he had been proposing that we go try and climb it. With that in mind, we put this trip together. However, a couple days prior the region got hit with a big snowstorm dumping a lot of moisture laden snow. The flow sits on a steep NE aspect and with the current avy forecast we decided it would be way too risky to approach the ice. Thus, at the last minute, this turned into a simple ski tour.
The five of us met in Missoula, drove to the road that leads to Sam Billings Campground and started up from nearly the highway at 7:30am. Temperature was 5 degrees (went up to about 23; bluebird skies all day). Snow coverage was a lot thinner than expected and we dodged rocks and downfall for the first 3000 feet (we were able to skin nearly all of this though). We arrived at the Boulder Point Lookout about 10:30 and went inside and took a snack break. This amazing fire lookout is available for people to stay at on a first come, first served format. After a bit, we headed up towards East Boulder Peak. First real ski tour of the year for all of us, so we moved kind of slow. We scoped out the potential ice climb on the way up. It appeared to be really thin at this point so we were doubly glad we hadn’t tried to pack our climbing gear all the way up here. Beyond, the upper few hundred feet was quite wind scoured and a thin coverage over all the underlying boulders. We opted to transition and start skiing back a couple hundred feet shy of the summit. Ski back to the lookout was decent with only a few rocks hit. Below the lookout wasn’t a whole lot of fun as we had to descent back through the sparse coverage. We all did ok though and returned back to our vehicles at 3:30. Eight hours, 10.7 miles and 5000’ of gain. Forest Dean