|Peak:||Missouri Mountain (14er)|
|Route:||Northwest Ridge from Missouri Gulch|
|Date of Information:||04/04/2012|
Road access to Missouri Gulch is clear and accessible in any car. It is hard to find in the dark, so keep a lookout for the wooden post-and-rail fence on the left side of the road. You likely won't see the sign as it is tucked well into the trees.
After the recent storm there was ~6-9" of fresh powder (give or take depending on the wind). manbearpigg blazed trail all the way to the summit, while I slowly trudged along behind (never having done a 14er in winter conditions, I was slightly unprepared for what I was getting myself into...). In the morning, the snow was light and fluffy, which made travel slow. Because it looked like the normal route up the NW ridge may have had some avalanche risk due to wind-loading on the eastern slopes and some small point release activity, we went up to the ridge earlier than the actual trail (which was invisible under the snow anyhow). After getting to the top of ridgeline, we found that the slopes had less snow than they appeared (~1ft or less in most spots) The ridgeline itself had a good amount of snow on it. A little taller than knee height in spots. Snow conditions varied a lot between powder and windslap up there. The day was warm and clear, and the snow started to melt and get pretty slick. Later in the day, during the descent, this hardened and with the slight wind formed a decent crust over the softer snow beneath that should make ascents much easier than the conditions we went up in (provided you go up when it is still cold). By this time, I'd say avalanche conditions were pretty much nonexistent, and conditions should stay relatively safe. If it is really warm, one or two areas may have slight wet slab risk, but otherwise the no worries. Snowshoes are a must, and I'd recommend yakstrax for the slick spots on the lower 2-3miles of trail. Trekking poles were very helpful. If you don't use them, an ice axe may have been useful in a couple spots but isn't really necessary provided your snowshoes have good built-in crampons.
img 1 - Missouri Mtn. img 2 - heading up the ridge. img 3 - manbearpigg and dogbearpigg on the ridge. img 4 - class III crux (we went up and over rather than break trail around it)
Photos (click for slideshow):