(Last Updated On: April 26, 2010)
Ant Peak is part of the string of mountains stretching from Mount Justice to Purple Mountain known by Marble skiers as “Little Alaska”. Other peaks in the range include “The Nipple”, at 12,789′ and “The Blob” at 12,781′. These peaks are most commonly skied from Marble, although their South faces are very prominent from many Crested Butte area summits and offer up 3,000′ descents into the Dark Canyon. There is a short window every spring, however, when these peaks can be reached via snowmobile access. Barring another big snowstorm at lower elevations, this was probably my last trip up Slate River, which is badly melted out with a lot of long dirt sections.
Last year at almost the same time of year, travel up the valley was quite simple- but this year that wasn’t the case at all, and John Jasper and I even took the time to build a short road to make sure our sleds didn’t get dumped into the river.
The clouds continued to grow, which was a shame because the climbing near the summit was more fun than I’ve had climbing in a long time. A steep, fluted snow ridge was the only route up, and at times it was deep enough that I would use my hands to burrow away a little path to go through. “Little Alaska” indeed. At the summit, I tried to get a photo of our tracks:
Everything about this day was reminding me of my year spent in Whistler, from the snow and clouds to the heavy but creamy nature of the snow. In Whistler, oftentimes it’s very obvious when and where a small snow pocket will rip out and avalanche. When I lived there I called it “Permanent April”, because that’s the way the snowpack acts up there- like Colorado in April. Long story short, both Jasper and I could tell that in a few pockets the snow from two days ago hadn’t quite bonded, and sure enough, Jasper got one spot to go. As he said, “It’s not that scary when you know it’s going to happen.”
We continued down the face without any more slides, and began the gentle trek back to Yule Pass. There is so much terrain back here, one could easily spend a week here ticking off lines. The southern faces spilling off of Treasure looked like so much fun in wintertime, with literally hundreds of 5-10′ drops. Sadly, there just isn’t an easy or very safe way to get to this zone in wintertime from Crested Butte.
Mother’s day is on the way, a gift certificate from Backcountry.com is so much better than flowers.
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