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Friday, July 30, 2004

Chatter Creek's Vertebrae Glacier

Powder Skiing at Chatter Creek
Tracks on Vertebrae Glacier. The col at the top center of the picture is the entry point for the cat road. It's elevation is about 9600 ft. The glacier is large and offers many lines of fairly mellow skiing. The views are spectacular and embrace portions of North America's Continental Divide. Here's an earlier post showing Mt. Columbia and the Snow Dome. A predominant feature in the view from the glacier is the Sullivan Fault, a wall of folded rock. One of our favorite photos taken from the glacier is this view looking north.

The summit in the center of the picture is the highest point in Vertebrae Ridge, which slopes away to the south, a great steep-sided spine. Here's a view of the ridge as seen from the East Ridge.

Guests elect to visit the glacier as much for the views as for the skiing. For intermediate skiers, the skiing is marvelous. For expert skiers, the skiing is pleasant, but not challenging. However, the run back down the other side can be a different story. There are many lines there, and guides have choices, depending on the skill of their group and the snow conditions.

Vertebrae Glacier is east-facing and protected. However, sometimes the sun and wind will have "toasted" the other side and the "run back down" to good snow becomes a long cat ride. Nevertheless, guests still want the top-of-the-world experience and they rarely regret the time spent. The trip takes about 45 minutes, if there is no skiing on the way. Usually, it is taken in sections with stops for runs along the way, to break the journey.

Click here for another view from the top of the glacier and a shot of the run back home.