Skiing the Tobacco Root Mountains: North Meadow Creek

In All, Montana, Skiing by DylanLeave a Comment

Chris Chafer coming down the spine in the Cliff Lake cirque. (Click image to buy print)

My buddy Tom was heading in three days earlier, so we made a plan for him to pick me up at the trailhead of North Meadow Creek in the Tobacco Roods at 10 a.m on a Saturday morning (there is no cell service, so both of us had to be exact.).

I rolled in around 9:30, met another friend in McAllister and were met by Tom at 10:15. The nine mile sled-in wasn’t bad except for the last mile or so of tight off camber trail through narrow trees.

Our destined place (let’s call it Secret Cabin), was packed full of friendly sledders and skiers.

The first day the visibility was horrible. We could see maybe 20 feet in front of us. And the report from our fellow cabin mates was the avalanche conditions were bad, at best. Natural slides on every aspect. We decided to try some tight trees that we figured would be moderately wind sheltered and close enough together to create an anchor.

 

The clouds rose a little bit, allowing a glimpse into the valley below.

 

Flight light powder.

The snow wasn’t as stable as we had hoped. Small pockets were letting go, so we just decided to find mini-golf style spots and play around. We did this for about an hour before retiring back to the cabin for some evening activities.
The next day we woke to a blue bird day. We went up to the Cliff Lake and scouted the cirque. There were some big ominous cornices and a couple recent slides, but for the most part things felt good. We decided to skin up a tree ridden ridge and hang on that side. The snow was good, but the sun was strong. It was clear we would have about two hours of “safe” skiing. All but two members of the group called it a day. The other two boot packed up one of the old avalanches and skiied a ridge lookers right. It was a cool line and I was glad to have witnessed them ski it.

All we had was the two days, so we packed up and left the snow for another day.

 

Nothing like an old mine shack to provide shelter.

Nothing like an old mine shack to provide shelter.

 

The crew checking out the Cliff Lake zone.

The crew checking out the Cliff Lake zone.

 

Playing it safe in the trees on the second day, first lap.

Playing it safe in the trees on the second day, first lap. (Click image to buy print)