Mt. Niles solo summit

This mountain had never really registered on my radar until I went to ski Sherbrooke lake. It’s just a really cool looking mountain with a wicked looking south face. Not gnarly, just really sweet looking. So since I’m recently parted with my fat freeride-oriented touring setup and just on my 90mm spring setup, I thought it would be a good objective for a fast and light day trip.

It was forecasted to snow the day and night before, and what better conditions for a big face than powder?! However, in order to ski it before the powder turned to wet slide avalanche prone glop or just another sun crust, I had to ski it really early in the morning before the sun had much time on the south aspect. So I woke up at 2am and got to the Great Divide Lodge and skins on by 3:45. Solo trips are nice because you can just plow on and not worry about group dynamics, and get to learn how fast you can really go. I got to the far end of the lake in an hour, and the base of the mountain in another two hours.

I kept on skinning to the base of the rock band, then switched over to boot crampons to get up through the rocks. From there, I opted to skin up the left side of the face as the right side appeared to be steeper (and a good ski). Two hours after arriving at the base of the mountain, I was on the summit 500m above. So 5 and a bit hours to go 10km and climb 1500m, with some technical bits. Seems good to me.

Once on the top, I started snapping pics like crazy. Visibility was pretty good, especially on mountains to the west that were basking in the sun.

Sherbrooke Lake with the O’hara area in the valley behind

Then it was a quick ski down to the base of the mountain. There was 10cm of fresh light snow, with up to 30cm in sheltered areas, a great pow run. I had intended to make a full day of it, but the sun was beating down hard. There was one north facing couloir which unlike everything else didn’t have a rock slab in the sun above it. The longer I watched sluff after sluff pour off the slabs, the more I thought that getting to the base of the line wouldn’t be all that safe, just in itself. So I slogged all the way back out of the valley and went home. Got this banger shot as I left the lake:

It’s been a busy week so I just got around to the video:


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