Took the day off and advantage of a bright moon for an early start up into one of the alpine cirques in West Glacier Park. My friend, Justin Woods, lives in Whitefish so after work I threw my gear in the truck and drove up the west shore of Flathead lake to his couch. After catching up and racking our gear, we got a short 3 hrs of sleep before getting up and drinking coffee during the short drive to the trail head.
It got light just as we were getting close to lower Snyder lake. With the inversion on Lake McDonald and blue skies above, it was promising to be a nice day. Startling how quite it was and much colder at the upper lake. We skied to the center and jaw dropped at the ice lacing the walls. “Lookin good, eh? Yea dude, looks good.”
Then…… The sun hit the mountain behind us and snow started to roll. We hymned and hawed for a long time while slowly cutting switchbacks up the slope toward the base of the wall. It’s prime avalanche terrain and we were trying to be smart but wind slabs and propagating cracks had us concerned. About half way up, right as it starts to get steeper, we dug a pit and surprisingly, it was fairly well bonded and felt pretty safe so we continued. After taking the skis off and kicking steps the last 200′, we stomped out a ledge and tied in.
Other than Justin taking a chunk of ice to the face when a good sized “dinner plate” came off while placing his tool, cutting the bridge of his nose and giving him a pretty good bell ringer, we had a really fun day on the North face of Edwards. I yelled down to him as he was cleaning a pitch, “how ya doin dude?”. “Kinda concussed man” followed by a laugh that let me know he was still lovin it. Funny how many of us (that like to climb ice) have that scar across the bridge of the nose. When he arrived at the belay, it was agreed that we were lucky indeed. That place is always good training…. for something;-)
An adventurous ski out with a long section of our skin track (from earlier that morning) being covered by a good sized swath of avalanche debris was a good reminder of where we were. The GNP is a super special place and demands respect. Back to work