First off, props to all you folks who take the time to shoot nice pictures documenting your trip. I really don't have patience for that but...
I was invited on a trip to Sphinx Mountain on Saturday. Just me alone to represent the splitboard community in a group of 10 AT and tele skiers. It was my 3rd time riding the Sphinx and I knew it was going to be a slog. About 7 miles and 4000 ft of climbing, all the while trying to keep up with fast skiers.
The 18" of fresh that Big Sky recieved a few days earlier had us nervous about avy conditions but it looked like very little fresh snow fell on the Sphinx. After about 5 miles of skinning and kickstepping/bootpacking (icy sideslopes) the top of the mountain came into view.
And after another grueling mile we were about to begin the "real" ascent up the gully to the summit snowfield.
It was about this time that my legs started to cramp and I told myself that I probably would not do the trip again. We still had another 2000 ft of climbing to do over the next mile and I knew I was in for a hurtin'. But up I went, determined to make the summit despite the fact that my inner quads cramped everytime I slid my skis forward. Eventually I realized that it was easier to walk.
After a total of 6.5 hours I finally made the summit. I managed not to be last either. Here's a view of the Hilgaards to the South.
and Lone Peak/Big Sky to the northeast
Finally, after a quick bite to eat and a cold transition (the Burton is gone for next season!), it was top to drop in. Here's a shot looking down the snow field. You can just make out a couple skiers at the bottom. It was pretty variable do to wind scouring.
And what do you get when you have one snowboarder in a big group of skiers? Only one track worth looking at (although it might be hard to see in this shot)!
After this part, we skied/rode down the gully where the snow eventually got nicer. There was a thin (4 inch) layer on top that would slide a few feet on a firm crust but nothing too hazardous.
The real fun actually came when we got back to the lower flank of the mountain. Deep pow and huge smiles. I was having too much fun to stop for pictures though. After riding the entire 7 miles back to the trailhead I changed my mind about not doing the trip again
And we capped it all off with beers and a soak at Norris Hot Springs.
Joined: Sat Jan 08, 2005 12:26 pm Posts: 351 Location: bozeman
Nice work! Good call on Norris, nothing like beer and hot springs to soothe those aching bones. Where exactly do you head in? I have heard of people staying at that forest service cabin near there and using it for a base camp for sphinx. Oh yeah the southern madisons have endless possibilities.
Yeah, you start at that cabin in Cameron and follow the hiking trail. Eventually you turn can off of the summer trail and follow a gully to save some distance but the climb out of the gully kinda sucks.
I wish I wasn't so lazy with the camera - we also saw wolf and (huge) mtn lion tracks that I should have taken a few shots of.
Joined: Thu Nov 18, 2004 5:07 am Posts: 619 Location: Montana
Great job putting up with the Lew contingent of that party. I know Mark well. I get the same treatment up here. Wish I woulda gone on that trip - went to bag a 1st descent that weekend instead that didn't work out.
Lew as in L-town? Either way, it was a great bunch of guys/gals. I work with Mark P and although I had heard some stories this was my first time meeting Mark F. Great sense of humor and both of those guys are skinning animals.