Wading and Wallowing to Mount Wood

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torstenprahl
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Joined: Fri Apr 22, 2005 3:43 pm
Location: deadrock, MT
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Wading and Wallowing to Mount Wood

Postby torstenprahl » Mon Apr 17, 2006 2:02 pm

Tom,

From 4/6 - 4/9, Myself, Kris Erickson, Whit Magro, Bean Bowers, Jim Earl, and Jeff Hollenbaugh made a journey up the west fishtail creek drainage to ski Mount Wood. We spent the first 2 days traveling into the west fishtail lake drainage. We covered approx. 4-5 miles. Yes i said 4-5 miles in 2 days! Traveling was hindered due to excessive rain from 4/5. The snow conditions up to 8600 ft were totally isothermic, which made breaking trail extremely difficult. Luckily there were six of us breaking trail. Besides poor snow conditions traveling through the drainage was difficult due to a lack of a trail and thick foresting. Poor visibility also hindered us for the first 2 days. At times we were unable to even see 1000 ft . Navigating through the area was challenging to say the least. Maps and Altimeters we very important tools during this little expedition. We were forced to stick to contouring up the drainage the entire way. Normally with better weather conditions traveling through this area could be done without the need of either. The other interesting thing was the total lack of snow in this drainage. Consistant snowpack only started at 8500 ft and even there it was patchy on certain aspects. All in All it was not the Beartooth snowpack i was expecting.

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Looking up West Fishtail Creek at Mount Wood. Kris Erickson photo.

After day 2 we were able to establish a base camp near the lower west fishtail lake. From this point snow conidtions were much better. A consistant snow pack existed, however, it was still smaller than expected. On day 3 we left camp early in the AM to climb Mount Wood. After navigating through many moraines we were able to get a full view of the 2 permanent north facing snow fields of Mount Wood. The quickest and easiest route to the summit, and a longer ski, was to climb the eastern most coulier. I'm not exactly sure about the vertical length, but i would guess around 2000ft. We climbed to the top of the coulier, which brought us to the northeast ridgeline of Mount Wood. Once at the top of the coulier it's a quick scramble to the summitt of Wood. Skiing from the summit is not possible.

After spending some time on the summitt trying to catch a glimpse of the surrounding area, through the cloud cover, we finally made turns down the coulier. The snow conditions on the upper half of the coulier were so-so. Wind packed and punchy. I would say the steepest section of the coulier was around 45 degrees + or -. The lower half was fun , kind of an icy corn condition...very fast. Once down, we were able to ski back to our camp. This trip was a very humbling experience. Never had any of us experienced traveling through such conditions. I think the word to sum it all up was ,"BRUTAL!"

The real question about this trip remains some what unanswered. Does the West Fishtail lakes drainage ever have more snow cover than we experienced, we were too late in the season or is this just a dry spot in the range?

Considering Montana has had significant snowfall this Winter, I am leaning towards the idea that this drainage just doesn't get any snow. Would I vernture into this area again? Probably, but not for Mount Wood.........

TomTuriano
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Stillwater Plateau?

Postby TomTuriano » Wed Apr 19, 2006 9:13 pm

Torsten,

Why didn't you guys take the Stillwater Plateau?

I guess it wouldn't have worked with the weather you had, but I have heard that the Stillwater Plateau is a cruise and easy to access by mining road from Benbow Mine.

Wow....sounds like it blew the misery of Hawley Creek out of the water. I guess I'm not too surprised that there are other fools like Forrest, Wes, Matt, Joe, and I around who would keep going despite the idiocy of it. I'm glad you were able to find some up there. I thought you were missing us.

got any pics?

t

torstenprahl
Posts: 7
Joined: Fri Apr 22, 2005 3:43 pm
Location: deadrock, MT
Contact:

Postby torstenprahl » Fri Apr 21, 2006 3:36 pm

"Why didn't you guys take the Stillwater Plateau?"


Yeah the weather prevented us from heading up to the plateau. I am not sure if snow exists on the plateau. It's very windy in this area and the snow is probably blown off. Dropping into the drainage from the plateau would've been difficult, steep skiing with heavy packs....
"Wow....sounds like it blew the misery of Hawley Creek out of the water. I guess I'm not too surprised that there are other fools like Forrest, Wes, Matt, Joe, and I around who would keep going despite the idiocy of it. I'm glad you were able to find some up there. I thought you were missing us."


As I was slogging through the snow, the thought did occur to me that," hey this qualifies as a Tour-iano". The over all trip was pretty brutal, but the trees weren't nearly as thick as that lower drainage near Douglas.


got any pics?


Waiting on Erickson.......he mentioned he would send some over your way. He got a great shot of Wood on the way out.

I have an idea for another trip for next year, I'll email you the details, maybe you J-Hole boys can come up to MT for some REAL backcountry approaches. None of that open sub-alpine sissy stuff you guys are spoiled with in Jackson....;)

TomTuriano
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Posts: 167
Joined: Thu Dec 02, 2004 11:02 am

Pics from Kris Erickson

Postby TomTuriano » Mon Apr 24, 2006 9:14 pm

All of theses images are from Kris Erickson.
http://www.kristoffererickson.com/

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Where do all these parts go? We did put it back together and it worked.

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Wade or waller, I can't remember... lots of special moments.

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From summit looking down at the glacier route.

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Torsten Prahl on his way down.

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Jeff Hollenbaugh on the Goat Traverse variation.

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Shot of Mount Wood just as we were about to leave West Fishtail Creek. Two miles to the Benbow Mine Road.


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