James didn’t waste much time bagging one of the most sought after lines in Thompson Pass. Heli-skiers frequent Mt. Dimond and there are several ways down but arguably the most aesthetic of all are the “Gun Barrels”. While within the realm of a day tour from the road, James and I wanted to try our hand at digging and staying in a snow cave up on the glacier for a few days to enjoy the sunny Chugach spring weather.
Day one was a grueling slog in the spring heat to get the sled to the glacier and build the shelter but man was it worth it. Cozy snow living with a hell of a backdrop. Plus no hurry to get out the door or get down from our lines since we could literally ski to our front door from dozens of chutes including the Gun Barrels.
Day two we set our sights on the Gun Barrels. Meeting with the Brown Brothers at the Shrund we deliberated on how to cross the massive crack in the glacier to continue up our lines.
The Brown’s took the first chute to a saddle below the summit while James and I traversed out above the schrund to our line and began the long ~3,000 ft bootpack to the summit. The weather turned for the worse and by the time we reached the top it was whiteout and lightly snowing. With no hurry to get to the car we decided to try and wait out the snows hoping it was just a passing shower. After an hour on the snowy summit however we decided to bite the bullet and pick our way down the 55 deg spine entrance into the chute below.
The line itself was absolutely sick. The upper spine was steeper than we wanted to deal with in a whiteout but we picked our way down the bootpack using the definition in our quickly filling footprints to navigate by. Once on the main face the turns to the entrance of the gun barrel were some of the best I have ever had. Steep, deep and butter smooth. The chute provided more contrast and we were able to open it up a bit, carving our way back to the schrund in two large sections. Back at the schrund we had planned to air the crevasse, but with flat white conditions we were forced to traverse its edge again as new snow sluffs went zipping by off the steep rocks above – certainly a hair raising experience.