|Camp in North Fork Lake Creek. Scott carried a small BD tent that worked well. Route crosses Continental Divide, via John Jay Pass on the ridge in the background. This was the evening that Mike’s Silvretta Pure binding broke, so we had some excitement doing field repairs. The weather had been unstable since day one, but we got a report via sat-phone that said it would stabilize tomorrow so we went to bed optimistic.|
|I’m cozy in a zero rated Marmot down sleeping bag, with BD Winter Bivy cover. The sky cleared that night and we had a low of 16 degrees F.|
|Louie heading up to the Continental Divide and John Jay Pass, Darling Pass in background.|
|David just below the pass, following his father’s footsteps 73 years later.|
|John Jay Pass is actually two passes. You go over the higher one, drop to the north, then follow a sort of “shelf” west to a ridge overlooking the Lost Man drainage. Thankfully this northerly snow was incredibly solid and safe, as Colorado snow around 13,000 feet can stay “winter-like” well into spring.|
|Group shot above Lost Man drainage, looking at Williams Mountains (which we’ll cross in a few hours). Incredible terrain everywhere, and you’re in the middle of it! The day was bluebird, as were the remainder to the end of our trip. If you’re going to get any crumby weather, it’s best to get it at the start of the journey and end the trip on a high note of blue sky. Excellent it worked out that way, though I was a bit undergunned as to sunscreen and got somewhat cooked. Turned out the 30-block I brought behaved more like 15 block (it was one of those sunscreens that’s more like moisturizer lotion than anything else, which I thought might be a good idea while planning for the trip. Woops.) Note, I’ve tried all sort of sun blocks and in my opinion the best for extreme spring skiing conditions is still Banana Boat Maximum SPF50. Wish I’d had it with me. SPF 50 might sound like a joke if you’re spending a few hours outside on a chairlift, but during a ski traverse you can spend 12 or more hours a day in bright reflected sunlight and need more than the normal protection.|
|Heading down Lost Man to the Williams, gliding on skis and making a few turns gets you a couple of miles along the route in just a few minutes. Beats hiking.|
|From the crest of the Williams Mountains you take a descent we call the Trooper Couloir. It’s a fantastic ski run that Louie appears to be enjoying.|
|Steve smiles in the Trooper Couloir.|
|Rest stop in Hunter Creek below Trooper Couloir. We’ll ski a few more miles down the valley and do a snow camp for our second to last night.
Check back tomorrow for Part Three, slogging Hunter Creek and luxury at the McNamara Hut.
WildSnow.com publisher emeritus and founder Lou (Louis Dawson) has a 50+ years career in climbing, backcountry skiing and ski mountaineering. He was the first person in history to ski down all 54 Colorado 14,000-foot peaks, has authored numerous books about about backcountry skiing, and has skied from the summit of Denali in Alaska, North America’s highest mountain.