Heavenly Twins (Bitterroots) April 14, 2024

Leader:  Forest Dean

Participants: Elizabeth Moore, Francis Horton

Way back in 2016, I completed a Heavenly Twins traverse with Brent Maier.  We did it on Memorial Weekend that year and it went pretty smoothly.  Booted the whole thing.  With the low snowpack levels this year, I thought it might be a cruise once again so decided to give it a go a month and a half earlier.

Being that the plan was to do a point to point traverse, Francis drove to Kootenai Creek, left a vehicle, piled in with Elizabeth and I, and we headed for Big Creek.  Got started about 5:50am by headlamp.  Hiked 5 miles on dry trail to the stream draining the south bowl of the South Twin.  Hiked up this drainage (some bushwacking in quarter mile, but not bad) sticking to the east side.  Didn’t encounter consistent snow until about 6400’ and this is where we transitioned from our trail runners to skis.  The sun came over the ridge and snow softened up quickly.  Bluebird day!  We skinned up to an obvious flat spot on the ridge just south of the South Twin at about 8700’, regrouped and then kicked steps around the west side of the peak and then straight up to the summit, arriving at 1:00pm.  After a snack and rest, we began the relatively short traverse to the North Twin.  However, as we reached the low spot on the connecting ridge, some concerns reared up.  First was a narrow corniced ridge we would need to traverse to get to the base of the peak.  And then there was the peak itself.  While it didn’t look to be a terribly hard snow climb, it was steep and fairly high consequence if something went wrong (a fall or snow slide would likely push you over some steep cliffs beneath).  So, at about 2:00 we made the decision to not press our luck and turned back.

Although a warm day, the snow was actually pretty decent for skiing back down.  We skied about 2500’ back down to where we had to transition back to trail runners.  The slog back down to the trail wasn’t the most fun, nor was the final five trail miles—but we made it.  Turned out to be a 15 hour day.  15 miles of travel and about 6000’ of elevation gain.  Great day to be out- spring snow climbs in the Bitterroots just can’t be beat!  Forest Dean

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