Yesterday, 1.15.16, Maestra and I set out exploring a peak that has tantalized and teased us for the last 16 months: Brad Peak at the Confluence of the Grey’s and Snake Rivers near Alpine, Wyoming.
All last winter I marveled at B-Rad’s dreamy North Side from Ferry Peak. I stared at her steep, sprawling South Side from my deck. I saw a lot of elk and other animal sign, a little avalanche activity, but never a ski track.
Bordered by a steep-banked, fast flowing river on both sides, guarded by steep ridges, false summits, and sporting dozens of sexy chutes Brad Peak embodies the expression, “So close yet so far away.”
Ahhhh! Right across the river I see mystery, uncertainty, a little danger of drowning, a lot of travel through avalanche terrain, and a taste of the most bittersweet medicine I know for this life: not knowing but still going.
You never know until you go. Last winter the snow was low, so I never got a chance to go.
Last summer Maestra and I swam the Grey’s and scrambled up the SW Ridge past four false summits before reaching the cairned peak proper. The view in all directions was astounding: down the Rake into the Snake, looking North to Ferry Peak, and South where Salt River summit after summit beckoned mockingly, seeming to say, “You are just a man and you will never see or ski 1/100th of me.”
A pack of vultures had followed us up from their rookery in the caves dotting a lower elevation crag. They soared overhead and I shouted smilingly, “Sorry boys. Not today, but I appreciate your optimism.” 🙂
After taking it all in as best I could, we scrambled down the S Ridge razoring W of the most prominent S facing chute, slogged through some serious sagebrush, got shot at by folks sighting in rifles across the river, and swam back to town.
This year things are filling in nicely and the South Side should offer adequate coverage top to bottom after this ongoing storm cycle. Yesterday we found a few inches of fresh on old sun and rain crusts down low. At higher elevations the skiing was great, if still a little boney in spots. Brad is rocky.
Yesterday we set out from the Grey’s River Parking Lot on foot and found an ice floe across the river down by the shooting range. Thick ice along the opposite shore let us follow the river to a break in the steep bank. We followed well-trod elk trails through the woods to the most sprawling of the South Ridges, studied the scene, and began a long uphill slog through boot deep powder and breakable crusts.
We made it up to the point where the toes come together and the ridge tightens up before turning around. It felt like about half way. We found a nice, flat, safe spot suitable for a mid-mountain rest and stomped out a parking lot. We skied nicely spaced trees and steeper wide open powfields down to the Grey’s River Bridge at 1.4 miles, sidehilling and searching for the safest route to ascend from that area.
Next time we’ll probably attempt to ascend from the Bridge and will bring a friend or two along to help break trail and for safety’s sake. We’re getting some serious snow right now. Hopefully it sets up well without seeing too much sun so we can explore more of Brad Peak soon and ski powder back down.