Urus Minor West Face- SOAP BOX COMP
We drove up to the Pass today hoping to get up Sifton and ski the backside North face. Unfortuately for our plans, Hermit WRA was closed, as were most of the other restricted areas. So we decided to go for the West face of Ursus Minor mountain, as we had already figured out our approach, and were just keeping it for later. Temps were -1 at 1300m, and we had ~5cm of super light fresh snow last night, a nice bonus that wouldn't upset conditions, and the sky went full bluebird when we got to the pass.
I'll keep approach and exit verbage to a minimum as there is tons of beta on just about every ski area at the pass. There was a rain crust below ~1800m, skin tracks to Hospital Knob and Ursus Trees were great. We brought ski crampons, boot crampons and an ice axe, as last time we did the ascent up SE Ursus to the col we only had ski crampons, and wished we had it all. This time though, we needed literally none of it, not even for a little bit. Travel conditions were awesome. Looking back over to Grizzly, we saw Greg Hill and co. heading up to get backside Grizzly apparently. Not sure if they were successful. Seems they hit a shallow spot (which Grizz ascent route is covered with) and caused a small wet avalanche. They seemed all fine though.
Lookin fine in the sunshine, the ski ascent to Ursus col
After reaching the col we booted off to lookers left to get a good look at the west face. Seemed a bit wind affected at the very top, but the rest looked all-time. So we put skis on backpacks and scrambled up toward the peak. The skiing was phenomenal to say the least, the vid says more than I could in text!
Looking into the W bowl off the scouting hike
The scramble route to the peak
700m of sustained glory
After we got to the bottom, we were discussing whether to skin partway up the face and exit out the col between Ursus Minor and Video Peak, or head to the next drainage West and go up the Bruins Glacier to Bruins Pass. We decided on the pass as it would be at least an hour till we got off steep terrain on the Ursus-Video col, and the sun was only getting stronger on West aspects. So we headed up Bruins, HS around 250-280. Nice ski down to Hospital Knob, then around 1900m Southerly aspects got gloppy (surprise, surprise). So we made er down and back to the car.
Bruins glacier. We're heading for the col just out of image on the left
Awesome day, everything went perfect. Well, other than forgetting sunscreen but I can pay for that later. Oh, and not getting our line, but that's just fine. On the way back to Golden there was a good sized pillow that released above the road right in front of me and covered up the right hand lane in a passing lane stretch, and then back at home my whole roof slid in a size 1.5 or so. It's a good thing the sun is going away for a while, or everything good might slide out, even in the alpine. Temps 4c at the pass, 8c or so below 1100m.