Backcountry skiing opportunities in Blodgett Canyon require good low elevation snowpack unless you are prepared for long approaches to the Idaho divide. The most obvious lines descend to the south from Mill Point. There are three main runs from here all offering 3000-4000 foot runs depending on snow coverage. Access is via the Blodgett Creek trailhead. Either walk east to the front and work your way up the east face as described in the Mill Point link. Otherwise make your way up two miles to access the bottom of the first run from Mill Pt. The second run is a bit further up the canyon and bisects the Kootenai Buttress and the Nez Perce Tower both destination climbing crags in this very beautiful canyon. The third run from Mill Point bisects The Shoshone Buttress and Flathead Buttress and follows a southwest aspect from the summit. These last two are very committing lines and should only be attempted with adequate coverage and safe conditions as the runs are funnels for sliding snow. All require crossing the creek. Further up the canyon passed the bridge there are other south facing runs to explore including a southwest face from the third point on Mill Ridge. Once you have managed to break trail six miles into the canyon the possibilities get better with open slopes on both the north and south facing slopes ascending long runs from ridgetops. At the back of the canyon the bowls above Blodgett Lake and at Blodgett Pass have ample snow and open terrain to make overnight trips worth the effort in certain conditions.
January 15th- I made a trip up Blodgett Canyon today with two others and we crossed into Mill Canyon via a bowl east of Sears Lake. The snow was warm and sunbaked on the southfacing approach with increasing avy hazard. The ascent was gorgeous with views of High Lake, Blodgett Peak and the whole canyon below our feet. We stuck with the plan of descending the north face to Mill Canyon via a steep headwall, followed by a mellow bowl ski, to a treed traverse to the outer east face which we descended on challenging hard packed variable conditions. We found nothing more than two inches of powder blown here and there and in the trees. Today was the day for this tour and hopefully others. There have been some slides on the south sides and rather little noted today other than some probable ice fall noise and a southeast facing pocket had pulled out high on the ridge west of Castle Crag. On the tour out Mill we ran into wolf sign after about two miles and the moose the pack had been following. Blodgett Canyon in better shape for skiing than Mill as found last year as well.
January 18th- We skied another fabulous line today from Printz Ridge south off Alaska Peak. With its sunny 3500+ vertical well softened, we skied top to bottom non stop in about fifteen minutes. It was a thigh burner. This peak to creek really excited my season with many more looking somewhat filled in with snow. With the valleys filled with fog and temperatures hovering about 15-20 degreees colder in the canyons, the south face was a scorcher of deep reflected solar gain and we sunglass and t-shirted it up to the summit in about 4 hours. The run is a long undulating steep run with quite a difficult and exposed approach ascent. There was lots of week old avalanche debris piles and snow rollers. All variably refrozen snow on the approach, we were happy for the harscheizen and whippets. The narrow gully splits a thousand or more feet up from the bottom and the descent route is in the steeper eastern chute. At the top, below the rocks of Printz Ridge the face is a 35+ degree steep broad canvas broken by the occasional tree clump and rock outcropping. We sideslipped into this face from a notch in the ridgeline, before laying into continuous linked turns down the headwall, passed Douglas Fir, around corners picking up side gullys, rolling over slab rock faces, pinching through narrow gullys and chokes,, and spilling out into the valley through an open thicket of talus and willow all the way in the shade to Blodgett Creek. The descent run, then obscured behind turns and rolls, trees and rocks rose far above into the sunshine we quickly noted was missing. Donning parkas for the inversion cold we skied back east toward the valley hiding under a dense fog. The sunny side of the Bitterroots have elegant patchy old growth Ponderosa and Douglas Fir and Sub Alpine Whitebark glades nicely open for ski runs. With the wide open bowls, steep chutes and lanes generally stretching directly from Peak to Creek, there are hundreds to explore in the Range.
January 20th- We pulled off a great link up today of the east face of Alaska Peak (Mill 2) and the direct south face of Mill Pt. Alaska peak's east face was not as heavily clad with snow as we had hoped, and once we dropped into this 50+ degree slope, we realized there were a couple rollover rock bands that needed our FULL attention. We made the moves, felt lucky for the warmed settled powder snow staying well put(except for one wet slide we kicked off about a third of the way down) and moved on to Mill 1 where we skied a peak to creek non stop 3800 vertical run from bright sunshine into the ice fog canyon. What an incredible day ski of these two fine peaks in Hamilton's backyard. The south approach to Mill 2 while difficult is straightforward and offers a good alternative to reach the summit with a minimum of rocky ridge fuss. To link the east line to the south line of Mill 1 was an extraordinary tour that gave us about 5600 vertical skiing for the day and seven hours on the trail.The south faces have seen so much sun settling that they seem to have stabilized nicely, however the east faces are still in the process of settling and therefore allowed for a pretty good loose snow wet slide to break under foot and propagate and run another 800 vertical or so. There was sun warmed powder, settled powder and full spring slop on this day tour.
4-7-09 Post- What a great month of snowfall we have had with great skiing accompanying each storm. This greatly increased the avalanche hazard and we have had multiple reports of skier triggered slides as well as some natural slab avalanche activity as well as a full wet slide cycle. With the high snow load and the variable bed surfaces, as well as potential high temperature swings with the April sun, this is a good time of the season to be careful while the snowpack settles out fully into spring conditions.
Monday April 6th found us back into the mountains for a final day of fast settling powder skiing in the north facing chutes of the Swan slabs in Blodgett Canyon. The powder was still good, but will likely only last on full north facing terrain.
February 10th-Don and I made it out for a day skiing in the backyard. We escaped from the valley and skied up Romney Ridge to check on the conditions of the Swan Chutes above the ice falls. The falls had looked really good yesterday as there has been virtually no new snow in weeks. Blue and thick it is well built up and solid. The ski run however is suffering due to the lack of snow and many rocks were showing in the bed of the twin gullies. Don skied the left lane and I skied the right and we met down a thousand vertical where they come together again. The snow was a mixed bag of sugary old snow, windblown powder and bed surface crusts. It was managebale in decent form and the exit to the left around the upper falls was fine though it is a small route that actually gets the skier down without mandatory air. A great half day venue to ski 3000+ vertical in twin chutes and car to car in only four hours. More reports keep making there way in of folks still getting after it in the mountains. Peak to creeks are still mostly intact in the mountains above 4500 especially on north faces and with the lack of new snow, avalanche activity is at a serious lowpoint for the season. If you are excited to ski steep terrain, now is the chance, take whatever conditions are there as skiing is better than no skiing!
5-2-09 Yesterday was a beautiful day in the mountains, and taking full advantage of this weather window, Chris and I headed as far up Blodgett Canyon as we thought we could for a day ski. It turned out to be a long day of fourteen hours and a I am tired and somewhat lame today as is the dog Pearle who begged hard to come. Just passed the High Lake trail junction we began climbing the south facing slope to gain the ridge and the hight point there, with our destination the Sear's Lake couloir and basin.
With new snow to contend with, 6-8 inches above 7000', travel was slow. Our route finding worked well and we skinned the steep face and then into the gentle gully west of the peak that guards the east ridge of Sear's Lake basin. Gaining the ridge we had a great view across Mill Creek to Castle Crag. Working our way up the ridgeline we encountered the couloir where the map has it placed west and below the summit a handful of vertical. It appeared nice and powdery at the top and it was, but in many...okay most places, it had sluffed down to the icy bed surface and we control skied the line alternating between ice, slough deposit and a few sublime pokes into pristine powder on the sides of the gully.
Exiting the trench in this rocky, treed face skied us onto a fine apron that rolled over and sang us down to the lake below. The peaks and bowls framed across the drainage above the treetops and the lake was a fine way to spend the lunch break. Pearle had abandoned us at the icy crux and headed back up and I thought she would make her way home from there.
As we headed back up and out to the Blodgett side, Pearle came bounding down to meet us, obviously pleased with herself and success in finding us via another route, unless she later braved the icy crux. Climbing steadily west we broke onto the ridge heading for the high point on this portion of Printz Ridge and the great south facing avy path descent to the creek. We declined trying to climb and summit ski as the thin veneer of snow on the upper portion rocks was likely rotten and dangerous.
Tired as well, we pointed the skis down this sweet corn run and farmed for over three thousand vertical. The lower run has a rock band running through it and we had to negotiate a snow free brushy spring lane left of center to reach the snow again below. From there we skied down to just above the flats and feasted on the Rocky Mountan spring water growing out of the run. Back to the trail then and the long march 7-8 miles out to the truck. With the new snow changing conditions back to transition we caught both the couloir and the south face in waning winter conditions. That will likely be my last trip up one of the deep canyons this spring to ski a south face as they are melting out and going rapidly now. Another great season of new peak to creek runs with this one an inspiration for more next season.