Bedal Peak - Northwest Ridge (attempt), April 2006
I originally intended not to post this report, but I can't seem to help myself. In any case, though the ski descent proved to be a disappointment, the beautiful weather and views of peaks still firmly in the grip of Winter proved worthy of sharing. Not to mislead anyone - I'm sure the ski descent of Bedal's North Slope (as we'd intended) would be a fine outing. Certainly Paul Klenke's March '06 post on CC.com revealed the obvious ski-descent potential of the North Slope. As a matter of fact, Paul's vivid photos are what first lured me to attempt the peak.
Anyway, my powers of persuasion must be good, for I managed to convince Eric Houtkooper Jerry S. and Cosmo (Jerry's dog) into joining me. Approaching from north on the MLH, we took a left onto FR-4096 (not shown on the USGS map). Based on Paul's information, we stopped a few hundred yards before the second switchback where a boot path cuts left into the woods (c. 2,100 ft near Merry Brook). The path was promptly lost, after which an annoying ascending thrash-traverse was endured before encountering small boulder slopes in the forest and the first patches of snow. Turning uphill, we booted up the snowy forest to reach a minor ridge crest overlooking Nels Lake (which we never saw). Donning our skis here, we continued up along the ridge eventually reaching a small, but aesthetic basin with steep cliffs ringing its left side. Dropping left a bit off of the ridge, I continued into the basin and on up towards its apex. A short, but steep headwall of powder snow overlying frozen avalanche debris proved most annoying and exhausting to surmount, but we soon found ourselves at a saddle, high on Bedal's craggy Northwest Ridge. From the saddle, steep, exposed snow led right around a corner with a short but unappealing snow gully with rock constriction seemingly providing the only exit onto the North Slope above. Hmm...it was supposed to be much easier than this.
Stymied by the unexpected problem and with only one ice axe between the three of us, we were effectively stuffed. Also, without a leash to secure Cosmo, there was also no way to carry him or keep him from falling down towards Bedal Creek Valley should he lose his footing. Sure, all these factors weighed on me...and add to that the fact that we were clearly off-route and I had lost my motivation to continue. BBQ and beers were calling. Traversing back left onto the ridge we followed earlier, we continued down through icy forest and descended a large clearing for several hundred feet before running out of snow. Soon finding the trail, we were able to follow it most of the way back to the Subi. So, where did we go wrong? Best guess is that we followed that forested ridge a bit too long and should have traversed left above Nels Lake much sooner.
Click here for photos.