| West Ridge & Northwest Gulch
A lack of March storms left many ranges looking pretty dry for early spring. The Sangres looked desperate. The warm temps have already begun a pseudo melt-freeze in the Crested Butte area. I was getting some good riding in the Irwin area. A few storms cycled through the Sawatch during the week, and Josh and I headed over to Buena Vista. It was late, and we couldn't really tell what the weather was doing, but there was still a lot of snow way down in the junipers. There was a lot of heavy snow on the road to Vicksburg, and we were glad there was one set of tracks on the road to follow. We skied across the bridge from the TH at 2:00 am, and broke trail up the switchbacks to the creek crossing at 10,8. It was a little tougher to follow the trail after the crossing through the open areas with deep snow cover, but I try to feel it out so Josh will have a more supportable path to follow on the sticks. We passed the old Cabin and the trees ended. Beyond, there was still just blackness, no trail cut, and no real good indication of the surrounding landscape. We retraced to the old cabin, and dug out a place to huddle with the thermos, waiting for dawn . . .
"Hey, you awake?"
My legs were stiff from sitting there curled up in a ball for the past hour. Back at treeline again, Belford could be seen immediately, but looked minimal for snow coverage. Josh ditched the XC sticks at the base of Belford's northwest ridge.
The West Ridge
MO was still too early in the season for steep leeward north faces to be conservatively safe.
The clearing storm entertained on the final hike to the summit nub.
Oxford looked so far away, and really dry. Another day.
Some side stepping was needed to get off the summit nub.
The snow leading into the northwest gully on skiers left was thin. There was one small rock outcrop near the top that chewed the p-tex. Smooth sailing from there, though.
We picked up Josh's skis at the base of the ridge, and continued down to the valley floor. We traversed a few yards on foot here, and continued to the old cabin. The riding was a little bit commando from there down to the river crossing, especially for Josh, since he was carrying the XC skis like a lurk. I split here and skied the narrow trail with skins on to stay in control.
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