Date: April 28, 2018
Participants: Forest Dean, Quentin Rhoades
Quentin and I met on the south side of Missoula at 4:20am and headed south, arriving at the Trapper Creek trailhead at 6:00am. No snow at this 4600’ start. Our goal was the Northeast Couloir route on 10,157’ Trapper Peak, high point of the Bitterroots. Both of us had climbed this route before, but never quite this early in the year.
We hiked up the trail for a little less than 2 miles then began a bushwack up into the basin surrounded by East Trapper, Trapper and North Trapper Peaks. The brush wasn’t too bad- just a fair amount of downed trees. We strapped on skis after emerging from the brush at about 5800’. The weather was warm and sky cloudless all morning and we enjoyed a nice ascent up through this drainage. This was Quentin’s first ski tour with his new AT setup and he was dealing with the learning curve as I forged ahead. At about 8200’ (11:15am) he told me to go ahead and make a go for the summit as he wasn’t sure he was going to make it. So I then finished the approach up to about 9000’ where I shed my ski’s and kicked steps up the remaining 1200’ to the summit. The NE Couloir is a moderate ramp (no more than 45 degrees) with a steep finish (200’ of 50-55 degrees). The snow was perfect for kicking steps and at 1:00 I stepped on the summit. I spent about half hour up there snacking, taking pictures, and waiting to see if Quentin would arrive (he didn’t- turned back at 9000’). I strapped on the skis and started down at 1:30ish. Several inches of snow were cutting out from under me as I started down the steep stuff, so I got scared and plunge stepped back to 9000’. Here I skied once again, met up with Quentin in the basin and we began the ski/hike out. Rain and even a thunderstorm moved in once we were back in the brush. Arrived out at 5:15pm, tired, sore, and happy!
Trip stats: 9 miles round trip and about 5600’ elevation gain. 11 hours of travel.