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Pinball Wizard via Bass Creek Trail

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 5.0 (1)

Ascent of a Bitterroot classic from the creek, almost to the peak.

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Map Key

6.1

Miles

9.9

KM

Ascent

8,435' 2,571 m

High

3,755' 1,144 m

Low

4,739' 1,445 m

Up

59' 18 m

Down

15%

Avg Slope (8°)

84%

Max Slope (40°)
Type: Backcountry or Sidecountry

Need to Know

Obviously, this can be a big avalanche performer and demands respect. Consider ski crampons for cold early ascent.

Description

This ascent should be accessible most of the winter with relatively easy access from the Bass Creek trailhead. There is an upper trailhead for access from the top but conditions probably won't permit much ascent towards Little St. Joe.

Committing to this tour should line up with stable conditions, as it is quite exposed to overhead hazard for the slow ascent once out of the creek bottom, and is obviously a huge avalanche performer. The skin track crosses the creek to the south and seems to start gaining more elevation than you would expect, and had Paul and myself stopping with greater frequency to orient ourselves. The path remains obvious, just stick to it and you'll cross the creek again to the north within about a mile of the avalanche path. We did have to do some rock hopping to cross the creek the second time.

Once you get to the avalanche runout, about 4.5 miles in, you'll be faced with your objective to the north. In the conditions we ascended, ski crampons would have made an astronomical difference. Skis were constantly off and on until the last 1,000 feet when they stayed on our backs.

While boot-packing, it was obvious that a difference in aspect made a huge difference in snow texture. The top of the couloir opens to a large bowl with some options for further ascent.

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Trail Ratings

  5.0 from 1 vote

#37

Overall
  5.0 from 1 vote
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Ascent Rankings

#5

in Montana

#37

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Photos

First of many sections with skis off
Jan 18, 2022 near Stevens…, MT
Crossing Bass Creek
Jan 18, 2022 near Stevens…, MT
Avalanche debris in the gully
Jan 18, 2022 near Stevens…, MT
Some fun wide open fields of January corn
Jan 18, 2022 near Stevens…, MT
Strapped Skis on for the top third
Jan 18, 2022 near Stevens…, MT
Looking up the Pinball Wizard Gully
Jan 18, 2022 near Stevens…, MT

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