Pinball Wizard Chute (and Little St. Joe), Bitterroots

Date: May 5, 2018
Trip leader: Joshua Phillips
Attendees: John Bardsley, Adam Drobish, Minot Maser

The third TRM trip on Saturday, May 5, was a backcountry ski trip over the top of Little St. Joe to the Pinball Wizard Chute. Pinball Wizard descends to Bass Creek about half-way along the ridge between Little and Big St. Joe Peaks and requires some scrappy and slow-going hiking along the ridge once past Litte St. Joe. Pinball Wizard is the second chute you see as you look down from the ridge heading west. The chute itself is a skiers dream: 4000 feet of vertical, with a consistent, but not-too-steep, pitch. It's definitely worth the extra effort beyond Little St. Joe. We were able to ski all the way to Bass Creek, then it was 5 miles out on the Bass Creek trail to the cars, and back to Missoula for the Rocky Mountaineers annual picnic. Although it was a long, challenging day, this trip was one of the highlights of the ski year for me.

Kootenai Canyon Rock Climbing

Date: May 5, 2018 Leaders: Kelsey Wellington and Forest Dean Participants: Alice Gustafson, Sierra Lake, Logan DeBoer, Casey Brown, Tom Jones, Diana Diakow, and Thomas Herwerden
This was my first trip lead for the Rocky Mountaineers, and I was excited that it involved my favorite sport: climbing. I am quite familiar with the climbing in the Bitterroots, so Forest and I chose Kootenai Canyon for our adventure. The group met at the Route 12/93 Walmart at 8:30am, and we were at the trailhead by 9:10am. The approach to the climbing is a short one—barely half a mile—so we were climbing by 9:30am.
The routes at Kootenai are stout, despite their intermediate grades. Many experienced climbers have found themselves frustrated by Kootenai, myself included. On this trip, I led a route named 11th Commandment, which had been the bane of my existence for about a year. This time, I finally reached the top without falling, and celebrated with many high-fives once I returned to the ground. Logan and …

Trapper Peak - Bitterroots

Date:  May 5, 2018.   Leader:  Alden Wright   Participants:  Julie Huck, Suzanne Panzica, Anne Yoncha, Bryan Kercher, Aaron Baldwin, Michael Riley, Neil Simpson, Edna Blanchfield, Marrea Matthews, Dave Patterson, Alec Patterson, Kevin Wright.
I did my first spring ski trip to Trapper in 1990 with an outing led by Jim Ullrich, former active Rocky Mountaineers member.Over the years, I did a similar trip many times, including a 1992 trip with my son Kevin.Starting in 2013, I led Rocky Mountaineers trips which have been billed as birthday hikes since they have been close to my birthday which is April 23.This trip continued this tradition for my 76th birthday.
We met where the road crosses Troy Creek the second time at 5500’ elevation, and this gave us a ¾ mile hike up to the summer trailhead.We walked by slash piles that were burned the week earlier.(Marrea and Edna had driven up to check out conditions, and reported extremely smoky conditions.)We started hiking from the cars at 8:00, an…

Trapper Peak- Bitterroots

Date: April 28, 2018 Participants: Forest Dean, Quentin Rhoades
Quentin and I met on the south side of Missoula at 4:20am and headed south, arriving at the Trapper Creek trailhead at 6:00am.No snow at this 4600’ start.Our goal was the Northeast Couloir route on 10,157’ Trapper Peak, high point of the Bitterroots.Both of us had climbed this route before, but never quite this early in the year.
We hiked up the trail for a little less than 2 miles then began a bushwack up into the basin surrounded by East Trapper, Trapper and North Trapper Peaks.The brush wasn’t too bad- just a fair amount of downed trees.We strapped on skis after emerging from the brush at about 5800’.The weather was warm and sky cloudless all morning and we enjoyed a nice ascent up through this drainage.This was Quentin’s first ski tour with his new AT setup and he was dealing with the learning curve as I forged ahead.At about 8200’ (11:15am) he told me to go ahead and make a go for the summit as he wasn’t sure he wa…

Petty Mountain

Date:  April 21, 2018 Trip Leader:Alden Wright Participants:Julie Huck, Kathy York, David Chapman, Edna Blanchfield, Marrea Matthews, Carolyn Pardini, Todd Kaye
The trailhead is marked with a Forest Service sign and is about 3 miles from the bridge up the Petty Creek Road.Unlike the out-of-date maps, the trail does not follow the old road, but leaves directly from the main road.We left the car about 9:25. The trail is very switchbacked and climbs with a consistent moderate grade.We were seeing buttercups, fritillaries, shooting stars, woodland stars, small penstemons, and other spring flowers.After climbing nearly 1000 feet, the trail traverses a very large steep open meadow which is home (at least at this time of year) to a herd of bighorn rams. The weather going up was cold and very windy.At about 5200’ where the trail goes into the trees Todd and Marrea turned around, and the rest of us we put on our snowshoes which were quite necessary.After another mile, we attained the top of t…

Snow Climbing and Glacier Travel- Field Days!

Dates: April 21-22, 2018 Leaders:Quentin Rhoades, Forest Dean Participants: Tom Herwerden, Lou Herritt, Diana Diakow, Andy Coe, Cali Caughie
This past weekend we held a two day practice event at Snowbowl.The goal was to work on skills pertaining to steep snow climbing and glacier travel, as well as help introduce those with little or no prior experience to these important parts of mountaineering.We had an outstanding group and it seemed to be a resounding success for all involved!
We began both days at the Snowbowl parking lot at 8:00 am.Saturday we reviewed footwork and techniques involved in ascending steep snow then split into two rope teams and practiced team travel on glaciated terrain as we walked up 900’ into the Bowl.Once up on a steep ski slope we worked on building anchors, placing snow protection, rappelling and finally self arrest.Even got some nice glissades in on the way back to the parking area.Wrapped things up at 4:00pm with a few refreshments at the vehicles.
On Sun…

Sweeny Peak, Bitterroots

Date: April 23, 2018
Trip Leader: John Bardsley
Attendees: Fintan Maguire and Leland Earle

We lucked out with a bluebird day on this climb of Sweeney Peak. The road to the Sweeney Creek Trail Head was open up to the switchback at 5100 feet, where we got started at 8am. We followed the ridge, gained the official trail, and then followed it as it traverses across the south face of point 7692. At the saddle and spring on the map, we left the trail and followed the ridge on up to the summit, enjoying spectacular views: south at Big and Little St. Joe and the Sweeny Creek drainage, and north at Lolo Peak and the One Horse drainage. We reached the summit at 1:30pm and spent some time relaxing before our descent. There wasn't time and energy for a lap in Sweeny's enticing northeast bowl, so we just skied our skin track down, returning to the car at 4pm.

The traverse across the south face of point 7692 was tedious both on the way in (due to Leland's poor fitting skins) and on the…