Blue Bunch Mountain


Blue Bunch made for a great May ski trip with views into the Frank Church Wilderness.

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Beckbird is an old, old friend. In 1980 we were roommates for three months at the OTC (Olympic Training Center). The picture shows me leading him on the Alpenrose Velodrome in 1981 (althought I doubt that I was in front of him for very long). But I hadn't seen him for almost 20 years. One day he googled me and found this website. Although he is an active cross-country skier, he had never done any snow camping or "winter" mountaineering, so he fired off an email and invited himself on a trip.

Hellroaring Lake

He drove down from Lewiston on Thursday. On Friday we began by driving over, leaving Hwy 21 at about 9:30. With 8 miles to ski to camp, we got an early start. Here is Bird at Cape Horn summit at about 11am. Short sleeves at 11am? Well, not exactly winter.

Hellroaring Lake

Although it was getting warm, the snow was still quite hard and a little icy. Here I am "walking the dog" down the hill.

Decker Peak

We surprised ourselves by making it the 8 miles to Bear Valley Creek in just over 3.5 hours, despite packs and camping gear. This is shot from the footbridge that spans into the Frank Church Wilderness Area.

We crossed the bridge and set up camp, partly on snow, partly on a dry spot. Sitting in the sun, we enjoyed the day talking about old times and how the older we get, the faster we were.

Bob above the saddle

The next morning was a little less sunny, but nice nonetheless. We left camp at 7:30 and walked on the firm snow. The ridge we climbed is quite open, with scattered trees yielding a great view of Bear Valley and the surrounding mountains.


Upper bowl

Once the majority of the climb is done, you are atop a long, somewhat broad ridge.


From that point to the true summit is about a mile and a half of rolling terrain and wind drifts. That's the actual summit off in the distance. As we neared the top, it got soft and we finally put on our skis.

East ridge

We hit the top in about 2.5 hours. The sky was trying to be blue and there was no wind.

Here Beckbird gazes down into the heart of the Frank Church Wilderness, with the Middle Fork of the Salmon River (the deep depression just left of center).

After staring for a while, we moved just off the top and found a good spot in the sun, sat down, and had a luxurious lunch.

Summit dorks


Looking back at our return, we could see the dents left by our skis, and in the background, Cape Horn Mountain.

Summit dorks
As the day had warmed up, the snow had softened, making for some fun turns on the way down. Beckbird worked on learning stem christies and the beginning of telemark turns. Mt. Cramer

Skiing in the warm spring sun was so fun, we decided to make the most of it- that's about as far as you can go without taking off your skis. From here, is was about a 50 yard walk to our camp.

We got back to camp at high noon, a lot earlier than we had anticipated. so after another lunch (stage-race stomach) we grabbed our gear and headed back across the bridge that leaves the wilderness area. Arms full of sled, pack, skis, etc., I tried to make it across the bridge in one trip and dropped a ski into the river. Bird moved quick and caught it before it floated downstream, narrowly averting disaster.

Bob boarding

Then it was time to haul the pig back home. Here Bird takes a hard pull to the top of Cape Horn Summit with the "angry man" following.

We got home about 7:30, tired from our 17.5 mile day. As I was getting ready for a shower, I found the first tick of the season- it truly is spring!

Figure 8s

Mr. Natural Home | 2008 | Back to top of page | Questions :: e-mail to splattski