One line in particular has been catching my eye on my Griz N visits: the North Face of Ursus Minor.  Greg and I have been keeping tabs on it this season, and after skiing the S couloir the week before, we decided  today was the day to check it out!  Conor made the team three, my favorite size for missions of this sort.  Conor was with us when we skied the N couloir a couple of years ago, so he knew what we where in for… 

We kept a good pace up the Connaught drainage, past Ursus trees, up the boot pack, and along the always entertaining scramble to the summit, topping out just before noon. 

Greg topping out on Ursus Minor.

As we edged over the roll onto the E Face, our excitement grew.  My heart pounded as we ski cut down the slope, with minimal results.  It was looking really good, was this going to be the day?  Were we actually going to ski this thing?  It sure looks like it, there’s Greg down below, getting set up on a safe rib to film some action! 

the Director.

I edged my way along the rock rib that bordered the face on the skiers right, staying on top and cutting my way down until I could see a line down thru the choke.  Phew! I won’t have to go way out onto the face out right.   Slipping through, the rest of the line opened up right to valley bottom, and I did not stop until I reached a safe spot at the bottom.  I watched Greg and Conor ess their way down this 2000 foot alpine face with the  rush that I only get from skiing flooding thru my veins. YEAH!  


Tracks down the E Face of Ursus Minor, maybe the first?

As we transitioned in the sunshine, fueling up, conversation turned to the early hour and what to do with the rest of the afternoon.  The half-joking talk of a link-up with the East Face of Mt Sifton earlier this morning now seemed like a real possibility!  Greg, Scott Newsome and I had ventured onto Sifton’s E ridge many years ago and caught a glimpse of this amazing face, way beyond my comprehension and abilities at the time. Now it seemed within reach… 

We accessed the N glacier on Sifton a bit further N on the ridge than our whiteout visit here a month ago to avoid a sketchy steep and rocky slope, and after crossing the glacier we gained the N ridge, a fine scramble. 

Sifton N Ridge

Greg skinning on Sifton N.

Conor gaining the N ridge of Sifton.

I love these days when you can actually see!  We eyed our prospective “out” from a vantage point on the ridge, and it looked steep.  Good thing it was shaded by Sifton, giving me a bit of confidence… 

Once on the summit, it was almost a repeat of a few hours before:  poking out over the roll with a couple of ski cuts, then linking turns down the face to a safe spot out right where I waited for Greg and Conor. 

Conor laying one down on the N Face of Sifton.

We continued down the main guts, leap frogging our way to the bench below, and again transitioned staring up at the second stellar run of the day.  What an incredible place we live in!  Now we just have to get out of here.  Greg  puts in the final push, setting the skintrack and boot pack up the thankfully shady 600′ climb to the Sifton/Rogers col. 

Our descent as viewed from the bootpack out.

Conor emerges from the shady depths of Sifton N

On tired legs, we entered the Hermit zone with a hard traverse to the skiers right to find the shady E aspect and made our way to the bottom of Puff Daddy and back to the RPC.  One of the best “link-ups” I have ever done.