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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Mar 2012
    Location
    Salt Lake City
    Posts
    308

    The Shield, Horstmann Peak, Sawtooths ID March 2017

    I went on two hut trips to the Sawtooths this year, and every day on each trip we rode some great lines. But this one, the Northeast Face of Horstmann, generally called The Shield, is the coolest descent I've ever done. And since I don't want to write a shitload (and you definitely don't want to read a shitload of my writing) I'll just go into detail on this single run. I took a lot of these pictures, but some of these are from Dan and Sam. If the quality sucks, I probably took the picture.

    This story started for me in late summer in the back of a crew buggy on a two lane road outside the small Central California farm town of Greenfield. My crew was on it's second roll on the Soberanes Fire. We spent all day cutting through thick ass poison oak. The steroid shot I'd gotten on the first round had wore off, so I was getting itchy again. Right as we started leaving cell service, my friend back in Salt Lake texted me asking if I wanted to go on a hut trip to the Sawtooths. I didn't ask which hut, what dates or anything, just said fuck yes. That night he told me the deposit amount and the dates, so I sent him the money and went to bed, and didn't think about it much more for a few months.

    January rolls around, the Wasatch is getting storm after storm, and I run into Dan, another buddy who is going on the trip. We start talking about what we'd like to ski, and he mentions this big face next to the Sickle on Horstmann Peak. It sounds cool, but I honestly don't look into it much. The Sawtooths have tons of badass stuff, I know. In the meantime, I get an invitation to go to the Fishhook Yurt in February with JTrue and others. So I start researching some. JTrue and I make plans to look at the Shield. Our first day, we hit the Sickle, and scope the Shield. Looks rad, and well filled in, but strong winds in the previous days make us too nervous to get on that big exposed face. The shield is the big, obvious face coming down from the summit in the background, that ends in a cliffband.
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    So, that trip goes well, and I'm super fired up for going back in a month. March 20 arrives, and myself and six others are heading in to the Williams Peak Yurt this time. The weather our first day is weird, really warm and soggy. About 8 inches of new snow fell a couple days prior. On a quick afternoon lap above the yurt, we trigger some good sized loose wet slides. Luckily, the temperature drops some that night and the next couple days we get great snow above 8500 feet. A small storm passes thru our second night and leaves a couple inches of well bonded snow.

    Thursday the 23 was our last full day at the hut. The evening prior, Dan, myself, and a buddy named Sam decide conditions are right for an attempt at skiing The Shield. The Sawtooths had a huge year, and the stability is good. We discuss the best way to traverse over from where our hut is located. I for one, have nervous energy. There's very little info on this thing, and it's very rarely in good condition to ski. With an early wakeup the next morning , I can barely sleep. I keep telling myself everything looks burly when looked at head-on vs being on top.

    We leave at 430 am, and mostly skin flats and downhills til we get to Fishhook Creek, which goes up under Horstmann. It's actually pretty fun rallying thru nicely spaced trees over frozen snow, and do a surprisingly good job of routefinding in the dark though some confusing, featureless terrain. There's patchy cluds as the sun rises, and as we skin up towards the Sickle, get this view of the bottom of the NE Face.

    Click image for larger version. 

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    We are grateful for the clouds and cool weather, since the face gets a lot of morning sun. We will have to traverse skiers left through this section above cliffs, til we get to one of the tiny ramps that cuts through. It looks really good, and raises our hopes we may not need to rappel. Next, we grind up the Sickle. It had been skied, and Dan and I had Verts, so wallowing was minimal, particularly if we could stay in the old bootpack that had been sluffed out. On top of the Sickle, we put on crampons and harnesses, had a snack, and started up the east ridge towards the summit.

    This was our first view up close of the upper face.
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    Ok, it still looks steep as fuck. I focus on the climbing, which is fun. The ridge gets pretty technical, so we bump down onto Horstmanns south face. There's a couple easy rock bands to negotiate, then a steep snow climb to the top. The clouds have burned off, but the snow hasn't gotten wet yet. The summit views add countless more peaks to the list of things I wanna do.
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    The main face of the Shield is beautiful. Stacked with beautiful flutes and spines. It's nice and steep, but well within all three of ours abilities.
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    We get ready, and Dan ropes up to kick the small cornice at the top. The sluff builds and then explodes against the wall where things choke out, and over the cliffs. Small continuous turns in the fall line will not be an option. Either go fast and keep working away from your sluff, or pull aside every couple turns. Dan dropping first:


    He rips the upper section, skiing fast and in control, before pulling off on top of a large spine outside the gut, where he anchors to a tree. I wish I'd filmed him longer, cuz the sluff racing down the lower part is impressive. Sam goes next in similar fashion, and charges down to another little tree below Dan where he anchors in.
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    Dan looking up from his tree anchor:
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    It's my turn. The snow is pretty much perfect, and I race down and across the flutes, looking over my shoulder and staying outta the way of the freight train of snow coming down. I pull up below my buds, and then keep riding towards my right until I get to where things neck down.


    The soft snow here is gone. A rough crust is all that's left. No more beautiful turns. I make loud scraping jump turns til I'm out of the way at the point we start traversing above the cliff band. The others join me. Now it's time to pay for the pure glory we had on the main face. We get to a tree, beyond which there's a glazed, ten foot wide runnel. This traverse section is steeper, probably sixty degrees, and alternates between a couple inches of soft snow on a stout crust, and icy runnels. I'm a regular rider which would put me heelside for this whole traverse. That's not gonna work. So I make my last turn for a while and flip around to my toeside so I can use my hands. We rap off a tree down and across the first runnel. Then pendulum across to a second tree.

    Sam setting up the second rap
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    Looking back at Dan as he gets ready for the second rappel across to me.
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    We regather, and debate what to do. There's no anchors for a while. So we slowly traverse across. In good snow, this whole section would take a few seconds. But sidesteppiing and sliding across it takes a while. The runnels are smaller and negotiable here. One nice thing about snowboarding is you can self belay off an ice axe. Unfortunately in this case, I had to be switch to do that. We got above the exit ramp, sidestep/sideslip though, and are out into the bowl.

    Me coming down the exit-if you can see me, I'm a blurry dot above peppery rocks down low:
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    At this point we let loose. We raced down the bowl to a sunny spot, yelling and laughing. In the sun we decompressed a bit before skiing out the drainage and then up to our hut.
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    The high of skiing this thing lasted days for all three of us. Strong, smart partners made it possible. In a season full of great days, this was the best.

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    Last edited by claymond; 05-07-2017 at 09:27 PM. Reason: Making pictures work

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Sep 2006
    Location
    Midgaard
    Posts
    2,101

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jan 2013
    Location
    Eagle, Idaho
    Posts
    69
    Great TR! I know that line is rarely skied, but this was definitely a good year to get it.
    Not sure if it is just my computer, or your post, but the first half dozen pics don't seem to be available.
    Anyway, way to get after it and I enjoyed the stoke.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Dec 2006
    Posts
    3,377
    Sweet! I couldn't see the first half dozen images, but it looks like a sweet line from the rest. I enjoyed reading about it.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Mar 2012
    Location
    Salt Lake City
    Posts
    308
    Hopefully those pictures are showing up now, let me know if they aren't!

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Sep 2010
    Location
    Den/Baltimore
    Posts
    3,935
    Sick line, for sure! Pics are working for me.
    "Alpine rock and steep, deep powder are what I seek, and I will always find solace there." - Bean Bowers

    meager stoke

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jan 2009
    Location
    Squaw valley
    Posts
    1,490
    Beautiful

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Mar 2008
    Posts
    3,134
    Such an incredible line, amazing it even exists. Stoked for you guys.
    "The skis just popped me up out of the snow and I went screaming down the hill on a high better than any heroin junkie." She Ra

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Jan 2006
    Location
    Vanity Fair
    Posts
    2,614
    Great line, congrats on pulling that off!
    Ich bitte dich nur, weck mich nicht.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Oct 2009
    Posts
    308
    Thats big boy shit, i look at that sucker all the time, congrats on a very committing line!

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Nov 2014
    Location
    SLC
    Posts
    2,850
    Very nice

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Dec 2006
    Posts
    3,377
    I can see all the photos now, which really demonstrate what a rad and puckering line that is. Congrats!

  13. #13
    Join Date
    May 2009
    Location
    pdx
    Posts
    7,665
    thanks for sharing!

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Jan 2009
    Location
    SLC
    Posts
    426
    Shiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiit son, first and last shots belongs in La Liste! So rad!

  15. #15
    Join Date
    Apr 2006
    Posts
    758
    damn, for real. nice work mister. hoping to spend some time in remote idaho next season.

  16. #16
    Join Date
    Sep 2004
    Location
    Where the center is on the right
    Posts
    580
    Yeah Clay! That is one of the sickest lines I have ever laid eyes on. Seriously committing. Nice work. It was flushing pretty big in the morning sun when we were there.
    "If you're gonna be dumb, you gotta be tough."

  17. #17
    Join Date
    Aug 2007
    Posts
    3,210
    Dang, impressive. Dan did well skiing fast and first, but I would be scared to anchor on that face. Of course I can't tell what options were and not trying to judge, don't get me wrong.

  18. #18
    Join Date
    Sep 2005
    Location
    Brokane / Fresh Lake City
    Posts
    2,821
    Rad! That is just a beautiful and exposed face. When I skied the sickle a few years ago, my buddy told me about people skiing it and how he hoped to one day ski it. Its been on my "list" ever since. Awesome to read about someone skiing it! well done

  19. #19
    Join Date
    Jan 2008
    Location
    Paper St. Soap Co.
    Posts
    1,801

  20. #20
    Join Date
    Nov 2010
    Location
    13 miles from the Bird
    Posts
    465
    Nicely done!

  21. #21
    Join Date
    Dec 2011
    Location
    Timbers of Fennario
    Posts
    1,469
    This is definitely top of page 1 worthy, fantastic stoke!

  22. #22
    Join Date
    Nov 2009
    Location
    CA
    Posts
    1,133
    That is a proud line. Solid work - and thanks for sharing!

  23. #23
    Join Date
    Jan 2013
    Location
    Vermont
    Posts
    231
    dope

  24. #24
    Join Date
    Sep 2006
    Location
    Rossland BC
    Posts
    820
    Sweet line, and great write up.

  25. #25
    Join Date
    Feb 2017
    Posts
    7
    Great TR, always wanted to spend more time skiing in the Sawtooths these'll definitely be on my list now

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