Basin 13,281' and South Basin 13,240'

15-17 Apr 2011 - by Stephane Mouradian

On Friday, Craig Haupt and I drove the very bumpy dirt road to Horton Lake TH and we gave in at 7400' just before it became impassable.

At 9:30am, we strapped our skis to our packs and hiked in through the sage brush until we hit snow at 8000'. We reached Horton Lake at 12:30. We felt "up for it", so we quickly pitched the tent then took off for the SW class 2 face of Basin. We did not ski the classic east couloir because one of us (me!) wanted to summit and the east couloir has a class 4/5 face to summit, which is not easy to do in teleboots with no rope. On the SW face, there were some bare spots but we could skin up snow slopes almost to the summit which we reached at 4:45pm. We skied back down and reached camp 6:30pm. It was a 6000' day after the long drive the night before and we were pretty spent.

Next day Saturday was supposed to be easier but it ended up being another full day. We left camp 8:15am toward unnamed Peak 13,240' (aka "South Basin"). We skied up 3 miles via Upper Horton Lake and left our skis just below the SW ridge of the peak. We had left our crampons in the car and we could have used them to gain the ridge up some 45 deg, hard slopes. Instead, we found some mostly rocky class 2 slope which took us to to the ridge proper.

The ridge was solid class 3 and narrow. At one point, we decided to drop right (South) to avoid a difficult section that seemed past class 3. Dropping right to a notch allowed us to continue climbing while staying on the right and eventually regain the ridge proper and the summit after tackling a few large blocs. It was 2:15pm, a 6h climb from camp. This unnamed peak climb was much more "interesting" that the named peak the day before. No wonder nobody comes here. Down climbing the peak took a while until we could finally get back on skis and we reached camp at 5:15pm.

Day 3 was supposed to be Mt Tom from Horton Lake but there were a couple issues: #1 the steep slopes from Horton lake were hard in the morning and having no crampons would have required us to have a late start if any, #2 we could clearly see the previous days that the summit plateau on Mt Tom was quite bare and we wanted to ski and #3, we could come back later and ski the classic Elderberry Canyon on the east side which has a class 2 route to the summit (different TH). So we just headed out and hang out on the east face of Mt Basin to carve a few in the very good corn snow.

Great trip, perfect weather. Always take crampons. Need to ski Elderberry Canyon next, it is only a 7000' day :)

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