Early Mornings and New Faces

“Hey google, set an alarm for 3 am tomorrow”

That’s what I was saying shortly after logging into Instagram and seeing a story posted by a stranger about a potential dawn mission the next day.

The name behind this new face was Ty Johns. I had never met him but I knew that anyone willing to wake up and ski at sunrise was someone I wanted to know.

After 3 missed alarms I finally glugged out of bed at 3:07 am. I wasn’t feeling it yet, but I knew that in just a couple hours I wouldn’t regret a thing.

At 4:05 I finally pulled into the parking lot with caffeine flowing through my veins. We wasted no time in getting started on the way up.

Hiking up in the dark is a very different experience, you can’t see anything so you have no sense of distance and you don’t play and mind games of getting to an objective and stopping. With this on our side we cruised up in record time, arriving at the ridge in just 2 hours.

This was just in time to watch the dawn start to break.

With stoke high we continued along the ridge to find out where we wanted to drop in

After looking over a few potential spots we decided on one that looked to be the best conditions

After just a few turned in, I knew we had picked right. After I posted up for pictures, I told the others to go ahead and drop in for one of those runs you drool about in the middle of summer.

Skier and Boarders Allowed

With only a few patched being icy. We had all to ourselves almost 1,000 feet of powder skiing. And boy was it a fun one to ski.

And just like that we were back to the cars at just about 8 am ready to head off to work!

Sunrise At 12,000 Feet

“It is currently 4:30 am, I have already been awake for an hour, hoping to get to the peak by sunrise”

Its noon of March 6, 2020, everyone is finally packed up and ready to start hiking the popular trail up to Pine Creek Lake.

Hannah, Jericho & Benjamin Hiking Up

The crew we had for this trip consisted of:

  • Benjamin The back country expert keeping everyone at a good pace.
  • Jericho Brand new to skiing and back country adventures.
  • Hannah Benjamin’s sister along for the adventure.
  • Me The photographer & sunriser

The Hike Up

The hike up Pine Creek is always a beautiful one. Around a mile in you pass the falls, which at this point was frozen so it was extra cool.

The hike up to Pine Creek Lake is one of the harder 7 mile hikes with 3,500′ of vert and lots of switchbacks, but it defiantly doesn’t lack in the views on the way up as you can slowly see more and more of Paradise Valley below.

As I said, Jericho was pretty new to the whole back country skiing world and about 2 miles in he snapped his pole in half on a tricky tree crossing.

Lucky for him we managed to make it work again with some sticks and duck tape. Good As New!

After that it was rather smooth sailing as we made our way up to the lake and set up camp. I got to bed in a hurry knowing what I was in for the next morning.

Here Comes The Sun

After a long night of being woke up by the harsh wind, I checked my watch and saw it was 3:30 am. Time to go

My plan was to leave camp by 3:45 and make it to the summit of Black Mountain by 5:30 when the sun rises.

With 2 miles and 2,400′ of vert ahead of me, I set off.

I had to stop every once and a while to check my digital map and take pictures like this one to make sure I was on track as it was too dark to see what was ahead.

Once I got to the ridge I thought it would be smooth sailing from there, but little did I know that only the easy part was done.

Once you get on the ridge the walk to the summit is quite treacherous, not to mention it was partially covered in snow and ice, and I was in ski boots. The ridge consists of a lot of rock scrambling, a little rock climbing and a lot of butt clenching. But I was determined!

Eventually I finally made it and was rewarded with the best sunrise I was ever witnessed.

After running around on the top taking pictures and taking some time to relax on top, I turned around and began the trip down.

I didn’t pack my skis up so I was actually butt sliding down on the snow which was terrifying at points, but actually pretty fun. Once I got back to camp I made sure to tell everyone what they missed out on.

After that the morning consisted of starting a fire and eating lots of food.

As we packed up camp, I looked back at the mountain I had just conquered with a big smile on my face.

Headed down

The skiing down was a good time, we were stopping every once and a while to let Jericho catch up. But he was keeping up amazingly well for his 1st time.

Once you get about 2 thirds of the way down you get back into the trees and that’s when skiing gets hard. You have to point straight and hope that you find a spot to get off to the side before you get going too fast. But we all made it back and alive.

This was defiantly a more simple story than the last one but it was defiantly one that I won’t forget. If you enjoyed consider subscribing below so you can hear more as I continue writing.

Until Next Time, Stay Crazy!