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Early Season Powder Skiing in the San Juan Mountains

Another Major Winter Storm on Tap for the San Juans!
December 23, 2009
Intro to Ice Climbing and Winter Mountaineering Course
January 4, 2010

A spell of high pressure in December means it’s time to get high in the back country.  Mark U. and I warmed up on the East side of McMillan and found virgin powder.  Me donning Black Diamond Verdicts and Mark on his K2 Coombas, we floated down Northeast facing slopes towards Cement Creek.

Mark scrambling San Juan style to the summit of McMillan.

Mark scrambling San Juan style to the summit of a gendarme on McMillan peak.

Day two we skinned up the Northeast ridge of the Battleship, which had not seen a descent this season, and fought our way up through the fallen trees and soft snow for three and a half hours to the summit, which my friend fondly termed a “goat rodeo” ascent.  After soaking up the views of peaks like Bear, S. Lookout, Sultan, and Anvil, we skied the Northwest bowl down into Middle Fork of Mineral Creek, and back to the car on the Ophir Road.

Mark skiing powder with perfect form on the Battleship

Mark skiing powder with perfect form on the Battleship

We were all smiles on our drive home, tired and satisfied, looking forward to the rest of the season in the San Juan backcountry.

GF