Spring BM and Spring Mtn North

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We spring forward on a snowshoe the day before the time change.

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It had been a couple weeks since I last got out for a real adventure (although I had been skiing on Sunset, hiked Cervidae, etc.). So I needed a fix. So did Dave, who had missed his February outing due to the flu. We bounced around several ideas amongst an allegedly enthusiastic group, including heading south to Nevada for some pretty aggressive windshield time to avoid possible inclement weather.

But eventually it was just Dave and I. Less driving was in order, so we sort of fixed on the Banner Summit area. I've spent a lot of time on skis there, so nixed several of Dave's ideas for peaks I'd done many times. Then a bit of inspiration hit and we found a multi-summit day, following a ridge, to an area I hadn't visited. Solid!

So after a 2.5 hour drive, we were snowshoeing under bright blue skies in boot-top powder. Excellent!

Setting the trench

This ridge line leads south from Banner Summit above Canyon Creek, on the opposite side of the road from Copper Mountain. The view from early on our route helps understand why Copper is such a great place to ski.

Copper Mountain

There were only a couple good views from the early part of the ridge; most of it is pretty heavily timbered. And also steep.

We were regretting not including more folks on the call list when we were trying to recruit trailbreakers. But we got discouraged with so many rejections. As a tactic for persuasion, we should have remembered that whenever Big Dan mentions foul weather (NOAA was saying something between 40 and 50% chance of precip after 11am), Dave and I are almost guaranteed sunshine and no wind.

But onward- more slugging it out ensued as we worked our way upward.

Deep powder

When the ridge finally eased, we started getting out of the trees for magnificent-- and unique-- views. Here's Red Mountain off to our west.

Red Mountain

And to our east, across Canyon Creek, is Peak 9290. I absolutely loved the views we were getting (that's my excuse for stopping so much).

Peak 9290

I don't know if I'm out of shape or if it was just extra hard work, but I was feeling a lot of fatigue and stopping a lot. Dave's altimeter gave us the bad news: we were averaging just 1.0 miles per hour. But at least our first peak was now in sight. Here's Dave, camera in hand, at another of our many brief rest stops.

Tourist

We finally got to the summit of Spring Mtn North at around 11. No precip in sight.

That's our second peak, Spring Mtn Benchmark, just over Dave's head.

Summit

And here it is zoomed in. Doesn't look too bad?

Except that saddle is 450' below us, and we're going to have to climb back up on our return (I'm not a fan of CLIMBING on the way DOWN).

 

Spring Mtn Benchmark

We slogged down to the saddle, then slogged back up the other side. As we neared the summit, we were admiring the huge fan of avy debris at the bottom of the left side of this ridge. Then we were admiring the rocky cliffs on the right side. When we got to the section with exposed, unstable sugar, we took a few moments to reflect.....

But we followed the bunny tracks over the most difficult section and were soon on the summit.

Cornices
The views were incredible. And I love this kind of lighting: with the high overcast, all the mountains take on a silvery hue. We were so busy trying to untangle all the summit names I didn't take as many pictures as I had thought. But here's an example of the cool things we saw from this unusual perspective. I'm pretty sure the pointy peak in the distance is Plummer, with Everly just to the right. No idea what the pinnacled summit is on the left without consulting a map. Anyone? Plummer and Everly
The big mass in center is Elk Peak. Elk Peak

We spent a full half hour on the summit having a little lunch and staring. Then it was time to head back. This shot, with the pure-white summit of Copper in the background, gives an idea of the terrain we needed to cover to get back.

Because the day had warmed up considerably, my snowshoes were icing up and getting heavy. That's my excuse for why it took us almost as long to go down as it did to get up.

 

SuperDave trip report

Looking back

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