Tuesday, March 3, 2020

Scar Ridge Slides: 3/2/20

Excellent firm snow conditions for a long bushwhack to visit the two northwestern slides on Scar Ridge. Ascended 2/3 of the east slide and 1/3 of the west slide. Tracks revealed that both had been skied by a pair of adventurers over the weekend.

Open hardwoods and firm snow provided wonderful whacking in the big valley between Black Mountain and Scar Ridge. One valley east of Loon Mountain Ski Area, but a world apart.

Partway into the bushwhack I came upon tracks from the pair of backcountry skiers.

Big rock.

Long sight lines through the forest.

Hardwood dreams.

Snowshoes barely denting the snowpack. Wander at will.

A glimpse of the slides ahead.

A hardwood inner sanctum.

Getting closer.

A beautiful valley.

Slender yellow birches line the track where the two slides meet.

Heading up the track of the east slide.

Reaching the base of the open slide. I had snowshoed in to here in November 2018 but there was not enough snowpack to continue up. Conditions were ideal today.

High crags on the ridge joining Black Mountain with the Loon-Scar ridgeline.

As I gained elevation, views opened up to Black Mountain (of Black Mountain Burger fame) and the south end of Franconia Ridge.

Liberty, Flume and Whaleback.

Looking back.

Owl's Head comes into view.

The "knife-edge" of Owl's Head.

Up and up it goes...

This ledge step/cascade was too steep to snowshoe up.

I made a steep bypass through the woods.

In here the snow was deep, steep and mostly unconsolidated.

Side view of the ledge step. These skiers were good and maybe a little crazy!

The upper slide in sight above.

The Franconia Brook valley, Galehead Mountain and North Twin (with twin slides on its west ridge) were added to the vista.

This pitch looked uncomfortably steep and I was running out of gas with the strenuous breaking on the steep grade.

Time for a late lunch break, at 2870 ft., just below the fork of the slide.

Heading back down.

This steep sidehill below the ledge step was the hardest 'shoeing of the day.

Ghostly Kinsmans behind Big Coolidge Mountain.

Skier's view.

An amazing swath on the steep mountainside. These slides are apparently quite old, as they were mentioned in accounts by AMC explorers in the 1870s.

The bottom in sight below.

Wild crags on a northern spur of Scar Ridge.

Looking back from the bottom.

I decided to also pay a visit to the western slide, which I had ascended 2/3 of the way up last summer.

Zoom on the icy crags and precarious rocks at the top of the western slide.

A surprise peek back at South Twin and the Redrock slides.

Through the archway.

Onto the open slide, which is much easier to access when the slippery slabs are buried in deep snowpack.

This ledge step could be bypassed on the left, but solid snowshoe steps were needed as there was a dropoff on the right.

In summer the ledge step exhibits remarkable scalloping.

Ice bulge.

Views into the Pemi Wilderness starting to appear.

Looking up the slide.

I climbed to a Pemi vantage point I remembered from the summer.

Late afternoon glory shines on the Twins and Bonds. The East Branch snakes through the valley.

The Bonds, with West Bond's "Guitar Slide" on full display.

Back down at the foot of the slides, winter beauty at every turn.

In the amphitheater of the slides.

Bear tree.

A graceful maple shows the way home.

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