| Northwest Face
Solo again for this one, Nick, Fab, and Shannon all left for Shasta a few days ago. Others are on the rivers or in the des. I was left to ramble, but still clinging to the snowfields, and ended up in Lake City again almost reflexively. The roads were punched way up to Cinnamon, but had blown in again recently near the top.
I slept in Ol'Blue and came back to the TH at 4:00 am. A couple of cars were parked there. I walked up into the woods on the Silver Creek trail, and caught up to a crew of three putting skins on about halfway to the fork. They were headed for Sunshine, but soon diverted up to the right side of the steep valley for a bushwhack. Too bad Parker & Co hadn't bothered to ask the snowboarder on a strategy. I had been here before, and just stuck to the valley floor to the confluence. I took a break up in the South Fork, letting them catch up again.
Although I was solo, I had brought my beacon and rescue gear, and expected others today. We skinned the basin. I relaxed my pace again, dropping to the back.
I took my skis off for a short climb through a gap in the rock band exiting the basin.
We climbed the face, working left to a notch to stay on the main snow line to the ridge. I could tell it was going to be windy on the ridge, and slowed my pace to allow more time for the snow to soften on this late aspect. It is always best to reach the summit dry, relaxed, and cognizant. The group passed again. A great chance for photos.
Uncompahgre rose to the north. I collected the view from the top, noticing the gentle alpine landscape on Snow Mesa, the Divide, and Cataract basin.
I assembled the board and left the summit on a powder and struge mixer. Spotting a more direct line off the ridge to the face, I parted with the acsent route slightly. It was still a little early on the face, but the harder the crust, the thinner I can play the snow through rocky sections. Out on the face I was making big carves, looking down on the broad ridge between the Cinnamon Pass and the South Fork of Silver. I carried speed out onto the saddle, and waited on a rise for the group.
We went one at a time through the rock band, taking variations into the long swooping gullies. These long runouts are always savory. The corn softened further down the coolies. No ptarmigan today. I rode past the Redcloud camp, to the confluence, and split to skis to intercept the trail again. A great day out with strangers.
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