Cooke Pt. 1

Published 2011-03-16

If there is a heaven, I think it might be near the NE entrance to Yellowstone..

On another random Wednesday evening, Brad and I planned a quick and dirty trip south to rip big lines in classic Montana fashion. The Tacoma adorned with my old Summit 700, a case of PBR, winter bags and a tarp, we blazed through the park, losing count of the numerous close calls with various hoofed animals.

Home sweet home

We had some big missions in mind, and thankfully, the snowpack in the region has been very conducive. With no consistent weak layers, and a minor threat of wind slabs, our confidence in some of the bigger objectives started to overbear any fear of strength, ability or prowess. We toured around day 1 ripping some beautiful east facing lines only to be blindsided by one of winter’s deadliest predators. Skirting along a knife edge ridge, making it a point to stay as close to the windward side of the ridge as possible, Brad stepped just far enough to make everything go BOOM!! Scrambling to secure himself back into terra firma, a truck sized cornice ripped itself loose and tomahawked downward. Usually the best sign of instability, proved itself worthy, when nothing on the slope below ripped. So…. I guess cornices are the big concern, as we continued our search for the entrance to the line we had scoped from below. Steep, stable and soft. Honestly, a heavenly threesome.

Brad on warm up laps

Brad's brilliant ballet

Steep, Stable and Soft

Sunday we awoke, a little drier this time, to mixed weather and mixed feelings about going towards our main objective of the trip. After a little dry out time in the Soda Butte, and sufficient caffeine intake, we decided it was worth a shot, and we ripped our way through the burn and into the basin below the pinnacle of a stellar mid winter descent.


The great white plateau

A few hours battling steady winds, steep switchbacks and variable snow, we gained access to the ridge that would eventually allow us the entrance to this monarch of a line. Staring down the gut of this beast made my hands do their usual nervous sweat. I think I recall saying to Brad, “hey, I’m not doing this unless you are 100%” His response, “how can you be 100% in a place like this?” We agreed……75 was good enough… And we dropped in….

Thank you Cooke, for this gift

Skiing lines you’ve been eyeing for years is always rewarding. Especially when in good conditions with the best partners. Thanks Brad. Always a pleasure, amigo….