Sunday, March 29, 2015

Prospectors Mountain Triple - V-Notch, Apocalypse, Son of the Apocalypse

After being shut down on Mount St. John we stopped by Zahan's and picked his brain for some north facing lines that might stay skiable later into the day.  Off the top of his head he recommended we ski a handful of lines on Prospector Mountain.  Having never been there before it seemed like it'd be worth checking out.

This time we got a 5AM start from the trailhead and were across Phelps lake before first light.  The night before, Z ran through Google Earth with us and described the approach perfectly.  It's amazing how helpful trustworthy beta is.  With the only difficulty being the trailbreaking, we made it up near the entrance of the Apocalypse without a hitch.  From there you can look south at Prospectors and see the V-Notch.  
Andy just above Phelps Lake.  
We traversed over, skinned the apron and then booted firm bed surface to the crux choke.  Not wanting to pull packs off and rope up I made a few weak attempts to boulder through the ice bulge.  It was short and off vertical but brittle ice had me backing off and asking for a belay.
The entrance to V-Notch
Andy mid crux
Once through the ice bulge we booted up through 6"to 1' wind slabs to the summit ridge where we got pounded by wind.  Rumor has it the summit is closed for the protection of Bighorn Sheep so once we hit the ridge we flipped it and headed back. A few belayed ski cuts yielded no results so off we went.
Hard to tell how fast wind is moving in a picture but it was birsk

Just off rappel and past the crux
Lowerd down
Even lower
 Once out of the V-Notch it's a gradual uphill traverse to the top of the Apocalypse.  Z told us the night before that the terrain always leads you directly to the entrance.  Turns out he was right.  Three 30 meter raps had us sitting in a little cave at the begining of the usual start to the skiing.  Once again we ski cut on belay with no results so away we went.  We were worried about daytime heating as there is a huge east facing slope (The Four Horsemen) hanging over the bottom of the chute but clouds blew in and everything seemed to cool off a bit as we decided to start skiing.
Andy entering the Apocalypse
High in the chute, photo by Andy
Turning the corner under the Four Horsemen
 Our other worry was the lower portion of the chute which on many occasions can be cover in ice from Prospector Falls.  I skied to just above the ice and found an anchor.  It looked like there was a fair amount of ice mid chute so I was about to pull the rope out when Andy came up to me and said no.  Fine with me, I just made hime go first.  There were a couple spots where ice flowed across the chute but they were quite small and luckily were always followed by soft snow.
Andy nearing the ice 
Sending the ice
Once out we sat for a second and discussed the possibilty of booting up The Son of Apocalypse.  Since it was still cloudly and windy we decided to head up.  How long could 2400' take anyway? Turns out thigh deep wollowing can take a LONG time!  As with the other two lines of the day, the Son did not disappiont.  It was long, sustained and still dry.  As we skinned back to the car we looked around and saw another handful of lines that, if we had more time and energy, we could have added.  The possibilities are endless!

Andy in the upper Son of Apocalypse
Lower, photo by Andy

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