Mt. Lindsey North Face ski – 4/30/2021

With ski season solidly in to “playoff season” I’ve been finally getting back at it regularly. The Sangres have been above normal in snowpack, so a couple weeks ago John and I drove down as close to the Mt. Lindsey trailhead as we could. A little after 11pm we hit a solitary snowdrift. It looked like if we could get through it we’d be able to drive quite a bit further, so we spent at least half an hour trying to get through it, without luck. The next morning we’d discover more (and deeper) drifts scattered along the road ahead, so ultimately it didn’t matter. About midnight we climbed in to the back of the truck for a couple hours of shuteye and were walking in shoes before 3am.

About a mile in we hit consistent-enough snow that we decided to put on ski boots and start skinning. A couple miles later we hit the summer trailhead, at which point the great bushwhack began. The summer trail was impossible to follow, so we just went where looked best. This resulted in a slow and unpleasant time, along with several creek crossings. Eventually we broke treeline (though a couple hundred yards off-route, which was not-ideal but at least let us go in the right direction).

We pretty quickly came to the ridge dividing the basins, which was a welcome sight after the way the first few hours of the day had gone.

The standard route gully to the summit ridge looked well-filled with snow, so we worked our way to it and started up with microspikes on our feet, an unusual decision based on what we expected to find.

The route (and microspikes) worked out pretty well, and we found our way to the summit ridge pretty quickly, which has a less-than-trivial false summit (aka “West Lindsey”).

Fortunately the line was in from the top, through not without a little bit of rockiness between the summit and the main ski line. Weather was calm and pleasant, so we didn’t rush to get ready.

The skiing and snow quality was very good, though wasn’t the sort of conditions that justified us bringing our bigger powder skis…oh well.

And here is the full line.

From there we had to climb close to 1000′ to get back to the drainage we hiked in, which was pretty uneventful aside from the heat of the day getting to us.

After that we had more fun skiing, for a while.

Unfortunately John hit a collapsing section of snow next to a small tree, and injured his ankle. Fortunately it wasn’t worse, as he was still able to ski and then hike out.

Once we got in the trees again the bushwhacking was back, though not quite as bad as on the way in. However, because the valley is so flat here, we had skins on for four miles on the exit, and then the final mile out in shoes.

We’d gone in to this thinking it would be a relatively easy day, and we ended at 16 miles with 5,600′ of climbing in just a bit under 12 hours. Much bigger than we expected, but no one was seriously hurt and we had a fun ski which is always worth celebrating. I think this line is one that, once you can drive to the summer trailhead, is unlikely to still be in condition – so I’m glad to have gotten this done in such good shape.

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