Skiing one of the 12 big-drop runs requires re-ascending the ridge to get out unless you want to wack your way down Mueller Park canyon. Re-ascending the ridge along-side big-drop 12, I accidentally broke a cornice and nearly fell with it. Stay back further from the edge than where you think a cornice might break. In my case, I traveled from a non-corniced section of the ridge into one that was corniced, not realizing it until it was too late.
Also, a friend of mine gave me a first-hand account of a terrible avalanche that took place on Big-Drop 1, and I've heard other first-hand accounts of avalanches occurring up along B-ridge. Though the avalanche danger here is generally less than that of the tri-canyon area, it's good to be reminded that avalanches can and do happen here every season. Sometimes you can piggy-pack off of Powder-Bird guide's avalanche mitigation work, but don't let this be your only reason for thinking a slope is safe.
The route shown here on the map takes you from Black's Peak to a prominent peak west of Grandview Peak, and can be quite time-consuming as the wind can't make up its mind which way to make cornices. Plus, both sides of the ridge can be very steep. The said prominent peak marks the top of a run called Big Drop 12
. Yes, this is the 12th run in a series, the first of which is not far beyond Black's Peak, and all of which drop-off the north or northeast side of the ridge into Mueller Park canyon. The big-drops, collectively, land you in either Frederick or Wiley Hollow. You'll notice LZ landing markers left by Powder-Bird guides on the ridge, as well as in possible pick-up zones mid-way down the big-drop runs.
Note that the top of BD12 is a massive wind-drift, and the run itself is perhaps the most aesthetic of them all, yet it is often ominously left untouched by Powder-Bird guides when they've taken everything else. This might be a clear message as to the stability of the run. Or it may be that they throw their clients down nothing that doesn't slide for them after they throw a bomb at it, and BD12 just doesn't slide for them. In any case, consider this a caution.
Get up early for the big-drop runs! If you hear a chopper on the approach, you're probably too late! That said, I've heard that the heli-skiers will let you have a slope if they see you've gotten there first. A friend of mine told me a story where he reached a big-drop run just as a helicopter was about to land on it. The pilot was startled a bit, then waved off in apology.