Get out and Ride

After living in Montana for most of my grown life, I have found myself always serching for new zones to snowboard and bike. Over the past few years alot of my adventrues were inspired by looking at mountain ranges on google earth, then getting online to reasearch access to them. I have found that the majority of my inspiration as of late, has come from blogs that I have stumbled apon. These blogs have not only inspired me, they consistently teach me of all the great areas of Montana I have not seen. On top of the inspiration, these blogs have kept me curiously searching for more. They have also helped me plan trips and access areas without a throw-away scouting trip. I hope that this blog can do the same for a couple more people in Montana. I hope that this inspires other to get out and REALLY see Montana. This blog is for all those who participate in the endless search for more....More mountain escapes, whiteroom apointments, after work bike rides, or persuit of personal progression, Most of us are in the constant serach for Gnarnia. Lets get out and Ride. What do you ride for? I made this blog to display my seach in hopes of inspiration, less solo missions, and more adventures with like minded individuals.

Saturday, February 25, 2017

Marshall Mountain-Southern Swan Range

The older I get, the less a trips "success" is measured by riding the set out objective. In fact as of late the objective seems to be a general area instead of a particular line. I am starting to get intrigued and excited by checking out new terrain, terrain you don't hear much about. If the area is good skiing with lots of objects it becomes hard to determine any one effort as a "failure".  In fact no trip is ever really a failure, unless you let it be.  Chances are the line you didn't get to ride will linger in your memory and haunt you until that day the conditions are right.  I feel blessed to have a partner with a snowmobile finally affording me the luxury of checking out new terrain just out of reach.  It has allowed us to reach the summit of three southern Swan Range peaks and leaves me sometimes questioning why I would go elsewhere. 

After summiting Pyramid and Crescent earlier in the year, and discovering breathtaking lines present on Marshall Mountain, nestled between the two, we had high hopes of scouting the peak and riding some of the lines off its most northern aspect.  Forecast were calling for a decent day for the attempt but the weather was horrendous all day.  The mountains were socked in all day with a steady wind bringing temperatures into the negative territory.  Navigation was challenging with a new area and no points of reference as well but we decided to push on. 

The peak briefly exposes itself

Nearing the summit
As we sledded in my hopes of catching the lines in the right condition started to deteriorate.  Almost a foot of snow at the trailhead had me concerned for more at higher elevations.  If wind was a factor with the low density snow it would be a risky move to commit.  We decided to proceed in the hopes the clouds would break, at a minimum getting a lay of the land and scout the lines.  The initial skin was tough and questionable with a weird collapsing crust just below the fresh snow.  When we eventually gained elevation the crust disappeared.  Never a good sign for stability though. 

We continued on a sub ridge to the summit with winds and snow depth increasing with every step.  At some points the snow was close to knee deep.  On the low angle slope the snow was cracking under our steps reassuring us that we would not be riding steeper terrain this day.  We eventually made the summit as it came in and out of view through the clouds screaming by.  It was cold.  We sat and waited until there was no feeling left in our bodies hoping to catch a glimpse of the surrounding areas.  Nothing materialized so we decided to ride the two feet of cold smoke on the ascension ridge.

The ridge was of mellow pitch but the snow was so light we were able to ride 2-feet of fresh snow like it was 8-inches.  Carving turns, loosing sight, feeling the snow come up over our thighs into our face was about as good as a consolation prize gets. 

It was so good we figured we would do a second lap expecting our skin track to still be intact.  It however was not as the winds were quickly transporting snow that day.  Another quick push to the top and we were treated to a 3500 foot run nearly all the way back to the sleds with fun snow and a great fall line the entire way.  There is something magical about finding tours where you can get runs like this all the way out to your sled, cutting out what can sometimes be a demoralizing egress without one.
Peak exposes itself on the second lap

Scouting the abyss

While the tour was not a success by the initial objective, it was still a massive success to summit and figure out the access.  This will set us up for an amazing return trip, if we get a clear day in the near future.


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