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Ice Lake Pass 10,000′

ice Lakes Pass 10,000′

Location: Twin Lakes Trailhead – Bridgeport
Elevation Change: 4,200′

I did this tour with Eric Jan 24, 2006. It was a big snow year and we were feeling like a mellow sightseeing ski or maybe we were aiming for the Hulk and it was typical wind sculpted crust. I think I recommend this tour, it’s been awhile though. With that being said, every ski tour is amazing, and you probably haven’t gone up to the top of the Ice Lake Pass above Ice Lake in Little Slide Canyon. So, here’s what’s cool about it:

When you get to the top you’ll get that afternoon sun from the east and lounge on some rocks and soak up views in both directions. You will see most of the peaks in the area along this low angle mellow tour through Big Slide and then Little Slide Canyon. You’ll see some of the terrain in each of these other ski objectives which I’ve described in this guide such as Victoria, Hunewill, Mt .Walt, Glacier col, Kettle Peak, Eocene, and The Hulk Couloir. You’ll have some short steep east facing couloirs at the top of the pass, and some epic photo opportunities with the Hulk in the background. I got a few shots on this day that would have been epic, only we had skinny tele skis and the snow was breakable crust.

On the way back you could skin up about 1000’ through sparse trees just lookers left of the Hulk Couloir and get a nice run down into Blackwood Canyon. This gets you to the campground near the car in about the same time with more skiing. Additionally, you could even boot up the Hulk Couloir and drop the south side couloir into Blacksmith Canyon. You’ll want a healthy snow pack and firm enough snow to drop into a south facing couloir in the afternoon. It goes through at the bottom, but you can’t tell from the top.  Or just drop back to Big Slide Canyon and push out the flat few miles of the valley.

To get into Little Slide Canyon on skis, you’ll want widespread snow at the car. That’s a sign that you’ll have enough snow to skin south first through Big Slide Canyon. I like to go through the valley center and find a log to cross Robinson Creek at the mouth of Little Slide. There is also a bridge to cross Robinson Creek near the car on the west side of the campground. You can find that on maps. If you cross there, don’t accidentally enter Blacksmith Canyon. I haven’t skinned up Big Slide from this far west side of Robinson Creek, but I’m sure it can be done. It might be a little bit of an annoying side hill on crust in the morning though.

Remember to carpool, there is limited parking at the end of Twin Lakes Road. Don’t block the campground even though there is a chain across the entrance. Employees live there. There are signs that say no parking and no overnight parking. Luckily I have never heard of tickets or towing, but backcountry skiing is getting more popular and we need to minimize our impact or we will lose access opportunities. No land manager agency is ever going to build us a parking lot, I guarantee that one. I have car camped overnight in the area in-between the two lakes of Twin Lakes. There are many places you can hide along Twin Lakes Road, or just stay in a hotel in Bridgeport. These businesses need your money, but don’t buy gas in Bridgeport, it’s the highest price gas in the country. The lowest price gas in is in Minden, NV one hour north. Your cell phone will work in the town of Bridgeport but not in most of the Sawtooths. It will probably work on top of the peaks.

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