Saturday, April 19, 2014

Full Circle on the North Face of Mt. Maude - A Splitboard Descent

June 1st of 2004, myself, and my good friend Tyree Johnson, climbed the North Face of Mt. Maude in hard snow, early-summer alpine conditions.  I can still remember the warmth of the sun as it hit us halfway through the traverse to the face from the Seven Fingered Jack/Mt. Maude col . The morning quickly changed from alpine cool to uh-oh warm and we got pelted with rock fall as we delicately made our way across exposed runnels of hard alpine ice.  This was the first of a number of classic alpine ascents that summer, as I cut my teeth, and ticked my way through Jim Nelson's Select Climbs of the Cascades Volumes 1 and 2. Fast forward 10 years, and I returned to Maude, with completely different intentions, for that same, classic, high-alpine face.

Our day began just before dawn as Chris Petry and I fired up the sleds a mere 2.7 miles down the Chiwawa River Road, outside of Lake Wenatchee, WA.  Sparks flew from our skids as we cruised down bare pavement for the first 1/2 mile, we soon hit snow, which remained nearly continuous for the rest of our motorized journey. The views got better and better and our psych level crept higher and higher as we rally'd down the long forest service road.

Petry getting amped!

Early morning scenery
23.1 miles later we parked our rigs at the Phelps Creek TH and took off skinning up the river valley. The trails stays relatively flat for the first 3.5 miles until you abruptly turn right and head up toward Leroy Basin on the Leroy Creek trail. We skinned as long as we could before the steep and hard early morning snow forced us to bootpack.

Epic views greeted us in Leroy Basin as we pushed on over to the moderate and aesthetic south ridge for our ascent.

Ski lines for days

The South Ridge rambled onwards with easy snow and a touch of scrambling.

Au Cheval

We took some terrible selfies on the summit, enjoyed the views, and got prepared to drop. We had seen zero signs of instability throughout the day. The drop in was steep but looked to mellow out quick after the first exposed choke.


The first couple of turns were hard, though edgeable, and soon gave way to 1-6 inches of light, stable, alpine pow.  I tucked into a sheltered rock knoll and watched Petry drop.

Minimal sluff, runnels, and overall soft conditions had me giddy for the rest.

Overall, the line was much more moderate then I had anticipated (or then it looks). We shredded on down, crossing the face a couple of times, and jumped over one small runnel mid-way.

Petry shredding


As alpine pow gave way to breakable crust, we traversed off the face and over towards the bench that would take us past the Icy Lakes, around the mountain, and back to the south side.

The man, the myth, the legend, Christopher Petry - Mountain Guide, sole proprietor, Oh Yeah Farms.

We nailed the traverse and were soon ripping skins and cruising towards the South Ridge. Perfectly creamy corn led us down the South Ridge where we bounced off as many pillows as we could find through Leroy Basin. Best corn I've skied in years.

Some zigs and some zags got us down to Phelps Creek as the sun set, and an annoyingly flat split-ski got us back to the sleds and some well deserved cold beers.  The sled out flew by as we pondered our great day in the hills.

Thanks for the great day out Chris!


I've been getting lots of inquiries into my Phantom Splitboard Bindings and Dynafit TLT 6 system, so please stay tuned for a new blog post  of the pros, cons, ups, and downs, of this revolutionary new set-up.