Sky Pilot Northwest Face
May 11
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West ramp on left, northwest face on right. Taken from the gondola.

To cap off a lackluster winter, my spring was mostly spent at the computer. Got things backwards and ended a major work contract just as the season is about to end. I knew there was some quality corn up in them hills, but couldn’t be bothered with the extended low snow approaches. Enter Eric Carter, who just got back from 3 months rando racing in Europe. He got me off the couch by suggesting Sky Pilot’s northwest, which I hadn’t skied in over 15 years. Don’t know what’s scarier: skiing a face with full double exposure to cliffs, or being completely out of shape and heading into the mountains with one of the fittest guys in Canada, who also happens to be wearing a speed suit. Certainly the latter.

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Climbing the west ramp. Unique lineup of Habrich and Atwell in the background.

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Climbing northwest face

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Down-climbing the south side scramble

An early start had us driving then biking into the alpine. We hit the snow line after a quick hike through old growth. Possibly the best access to the alpine on a low snow year. Regardless of the daytime summer temps of 25C, the snow had frozen overnight. We were way too early for our objective, so we detoured and headed up the west ramp. The skiing was icy but easy. We then headed over to the northwest and climbed the face in perfect stiff conditions. After reaching the top, we ditched our skis and scrambled up the classic south facing Sky Pilot summit route, which was free of snow. I had never been up that route, and it was fun scrambling around in ski boots. After a lengthy summit lunch, we down-climbed the route, and then relaxed for about another hour on the summit of the face. Finally we got bored, and I made the first turns out onto the face. The position is classic, with the top turns being super easy, and then the face gradually rolls ever steeper. The snow was perfect grippy cream cheese, which made for easy turns in seriously exposed terrain. Great warm-up for round two the next day . . .

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Eric exiting the face. The top turns are fun as hell, as well as the turns on the bottom sun/shadow prow

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The next day, I finished my ski line and watched Justin Sweeny split board the face.

 

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