Saturday, January 26, 2008

A long ride - Lost Horse

1/17 Fri – Lost Horse Canyon – Kerns, Finn, Vinni and I get 830am start from Lolo. Lost Horse canyon is in the southern end of the Bitterroot Valley on the west side. It's one of the only roads that extends way West, back towards the wilderness boundary, offering excellent access for skiing. We parked at the trailhead, the only trucks in the parking lot! We were stoked and on the snowmobiles by 10am. The trail was in horrible shape, with whoops the entire way. Every once in a while you could get in a little rhythm, which usually meant excessive use of the throttle.

Twelve miles back from the parking lot, we finally reached the area we thought we would ski. There was at least 10 feet of snow on the ground. Looking up at imposing Ohio Slided (a massive 3000 foot avalanche slide path), we were inspired. Vinni couldn't resist showing us what his snowmobile could do. He took off like a bat out of hell up the slide. As he started to loose traction and make his turn around, the sled died. Up comes the hood, never a good sign. After finally getting him on the radio, he said his sled wouldn't start. He said to go on w/o him, so we did.

The 3 of us rode past the cabin at fork (had 10ft on the roof), then all of the sudden the snow got really deep. Kerns was in front and started to bog down in the 2 feet of new snow. With snow coming up over the hood, he grinded to a halt. I gassed mine and tried to keep the trail going. It wasn't long and I too was totally buried. After a lot of digging and sweating we got all 3 of the snomo's turned around and we headed back to where Vinni was.

By the time we had got back, he was at the bottom of the slide with his sled running, sweet. So we promptly parked the sled and got ready to skin up. We cautiously skinned up the side of the path, with Kerns kicking ass and breaking trail the entire way. As we started to get close to timberline, we could tell the snowpack was quickly changing, for the worse. At about 7200 feet, we decided to call it good and dig a pit. The results from a Rustchblock test showed moderate to considerable danger with 18” break, pretty clean.

With our nerves wrapped tight, we stayed in trees for 400 feet then got into some thicker old growth trees. The snow was sun crusted in places, decent skiing but not what we had hoped for. With the sun starting to go down, we decided to head for the trucks. Unfortunately the road was still in rough shape. At about 9 miles, on a straight away, I was just passing a huge Ponderosa and I noticed I was falling off the sled. Next thing you know, I am rolling in the road and the sled is still going, ghostriding! I looked and saw that my handle bars had come of the snowmo.

I laughed but realized how lucky I had been. If that would have happened on a corner or in thick trees it could have been deadly. On closer inspection, the riser (that my buddy had homemade) had snapped clean off at the weld. Luckily we had enough tools and we were able to attach the handlebars sans riser back to the sled and ride out. Had burger and beers at the lodge; got home at about 800; rode 30 miles total

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