CANYON PEAK- 9000'+

Canyon Peak at the head of Canyon Creek and the iconic looking mountain's east face highly visible from Hamilton and its South face visible from peaks south of the mountain are all skiable at the advanced level. The northeast snowfield is small and exposed with no safe approach. The south face is huge and offers a sustained open falline run from peak to creek into Sawtooth Canyon. The easiest approach is from Canyon Creek and Romney Ridge. A small pass will allow entrance to the Sawtooth side of the ridge. There are two peaks north of Canyon Peak with moderate terrain off both. The moderate slopes surrounding the lakes basin offer the tourer great options for rolling open telemark terrain. Following the trail back out is fairly good with not too many uphill sections. Expect a fairly long day to ski into the lakes basin and back out. There are descents from Romney Ridge Highpoint into Blodgett Canyon from the high point at 8000 feet. These are expert runs with steep loading at the entrances and cliff bands at the bottom to navigate and avoid.

4-26-08 Saturday proved to have great weather as predicted. I had planned to ski up Canyon Creek to investigate skiing the south face of Canyon Peak. I used Romney Ridge to access a high traverse from 7990 to the bowl just east of the first lake at the falls. I skinned from here into the Middle Canyon Lake basin then approaching the southern ridge of Canyon peak from the highest lake. I used the obvious pass through the rocks via a snowfield and cornice chunk. The approach from there to the south face consisted of a traverse into the main gullet and then a short hike to the rocks within 100-200 feet of the summit. I climbed to an alcove where with room for one person only I donned the skis and skied carefully from there on the 45+ terrain above a couple low rocks. Once below the rocks I linked some decent turns down through the sunny side powder and debris. As I had hiked the final bit it had slabfractured a 3 inch warm sheet about a quarter acre from my feet as I ascended. Most of the powder had therefore been scoured off the upper face. I made a few powder turns above an island that held the old snow, cut across the debris field left and skied good warm powder for a total of 1000 from the summit. Skins on from there and made quick work of climbing back to the pass out of Sawtooth Canyon. Skins off again for a short 200 powder run on the shady shide from the notch with some of the best snow for the day. I traversed the uper bench below the cliffs and approached the northeast face of the peak from there. Skinning up to the final 100 vertical it looked like the face held a decent line from the summit ridge. Indeed when directly below there was a twenty foot wide lane running from the summit snowfield through the cliffs east and west. I ascended to the base of the cliffs and switched to hiking. After an aborted attempt on a central gully I gained the main gully and ascended to the skiers summit rather quickly as it was only 200 vertical but 45+ and thin with bad fall zones right and left. I stuck to the only fall line for the full ascent. The summit ridge was cozy and I took my time switching over and taking a look around. High Lake Basin was beautiful and deep and fun to look across to Blodgett Mountain and Shatuck Peak.in Idaho. The sun was shinining brightly and then it was time for the descent. The most tenuous descent of the season for me as the fall line was so confined by cliffs on both sides. Fortunately it is not too long with a decent tree free runout 500 feet below. I skied the boottrack or just right of the line in the fresh. After five feet of sideslipping down, one slab chunk peeled of under my feet and schussed down the gully fast and heavy. At 6+ inches this was a very hazardous slide, but it confined itself to the fallline. Leaving another patch of fresh to the left I worked the margin between left slab and right bed surface until I was able to get the left slab to release, which ran smaller down the same gully. From there it was a sideslip down through the chute hop turning only for better fall position until I emergred on the fan for some delightful powder skiing into the basin below. With another north peak beckoning promising good views of Canyon Peak and another basin to explore I skinned up for the final 500 vertical. The views were perfect of the mountain and my tracks and the fracture lines. Turning north I watched as a couple of Mountain goats loped across the rocky ridges to gain the final summit rocks to the north. They perched there looking my way for a minute before bounding downhill on the rocks and snow patches of the headwall above High Lake. A quick descent from this point entered me into the northernmost basin. This descent was ratherr relaxing compared to the other two peak runs and from the bottom I had a delightful two mile long moderate ski run down to the middle lake and on to the lower lake and then down Canyon Falls to the trail. The ski out the trail was pretty good with snow the whole way except on the one lower gorge bypass where I skied down and across the creek before regaining the trail. Eleven hours on the trail with 7500 vertical. The south face is one of the largest runs I have seen in the Root. It is close to a mile wide and descends all the way cleanly to the creek aspen grove. I hope to return in better winter powder conditions next year.