A burnt forest: backcountry skiing near Lincoln, Montana

In All, Montana, Skiing by DylanLeave a Comment

White smoke.

White smoke.

After keeping a watchful eye on a Snotel site, Paul Cullen and I decided the best snow would be found in Lincoln, Mont. Known as a snowmobile Mecca, we weren’t surprised to find the main road a snowmobile freeway. But we had our own too.

About two miles into the sled, the sun disappeared behind a storm. From that point on we were in a whiteout. It took us 30 minutes on the sled to complete the 10 mile plus approach. After a short discussion, we decided to head south, away from the buzzing engines, toward what looked like a sheltered steep pitch. We followed the main creek, which was still flowing and then veered left toward Copper Lake. The forest was completely burnt out, giving it an strange, ethereal sensation.

 

Paul Cullen heads through snow blanketed trees south of the Scapegoat Wilderness in western Montana.

Paul Cullen heads through snow blanketed trees south of the Scapegoat Wilderness in western Montana. (Click image to purchase print)

We circled around the head of the lake and cut diagonally across what would be our second pitch, until we made our destination, the “sheltered ridge,” which became the first pitch of the descent. It was by far the steepest, averaging well above 35 degrees, and forcing us to cut switchbacks. We headed for the lowest part of the ridge, on lookers left, and made our snow pit.

 

Paul standing in our pit.

Paul standing in our pit.

he snow was super stable, but we decided to stay in the trees anyway. One, neither of us had skied in this area and two, the visibility was much better in the trees. We skinned along the top ridge until we found a fall line we thought would provide us with the most sustained pitch and vertical. It was steep and creamy!!

We were all grins by the time we made it to the bottom of the first pitch. The snow was consistent, creamy and fast! It was an epic run. We wanted to head back up for another lap, but it was getting late and we still had two more pitches below us.The second pitch had by far the best snow! It was the shortest, but it sure was the sweetest! From there we skinned across Copper Lake and headed east along a ridge until we found a good line through the tight tree

 

Yes, the top is steep.

Yes, the top is steep.

 

Finding the fresh turns.

Finding the fresh turns.

In total, we were out for 5 hours and bagged 1,800 vertical feet of skinning and climbing! Awesome trip and I can’t wait to go back on a bluebird day!!

 

Coming down the first pitch.

Coming down the first pitch.

 

The author comes through the burn.

The author comes through the burn.

 

Paul making a slash.

Paul making a slash.