Skiing the N face of Democrat has been on my to-do list ever since I read about it on Stan Wagon's web site, but detailed information was hard to come by until Fritz Sperry's guidebook was published last year. After debating the pros & cons of an approach from Kite Lake we decided to approach from the N and set out from Montgomery Reservoir at 7am. Conditions were almost perfect - sunny, warm, almost no wind, plenty of snow cover but nicely frozen first thing in the morning. The trail was snow-free for the first 1.5 miles but after that we were on snow almost the whole way. We were able to wear sneakers and traipse across frozen snow until we reached the base of the N Face, where we changed into boots and crampons - our skins never came out of our packs. We climbed the leftmost of the gullies in the picture below. The snow was nicely consolidated the whole way up. There was a few feet of exposed rubble at the top of the gully, but otherwise we were on snow all the way to the summit.
For the descent we dropped in further to the west of our ascent gully and turned skier's right to rejoin our ascent line - that allowed us to avoid the short section of rubble and keep our skis on the whole time. (If we hadn't turned right we'd have ended up in a choke at the bottom of the next gully to the west. This has slid recently and we weren't keen on trying to ski over avalanche debris). The snow was a bit icy for the first couple of hundred feet, but after that it was creamy goodness all the way down for almost 2,000'. Average angle was probably around 40 degrees, maybe reaching 45 degrees in a few spots.
On the way out there was a bit of double-poling across the flats down in the valley, and we had to carry our skis across a few bare sections, but for the most part we were able to ski all the way until the snow ended 1.5 miles from the trailhead.
Left Montgomery Reservoir (11,000') 7am
Base of N Face (12,200', 4.3 mi) 9am
Top of ascent gully (14,000', 5.3 mi) 10:30am
Summit (14,148', 5.5 mi) 10:40am
Top of descent gully (14,050') 11:05am
Base of N Face 11:15am
Back at car 1pm
My GPS Tracks on Google Maps (made from a .GPX file upload):
Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):
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