December 27, 2011

The Muir Disconnect

Seen from nearly any angle, Mount Muir's East Buttress would seem to be self-evidently unskiable. And then, from atop Thor Peak last April, Dave Braun and I saw what appeared to be a continuous thread of snow connecting the mountain's south shoulder to the base of the buttress.

Truth be told I'm of two minds regarding this footage. Muir's East Buttress is an extraordinary, dazzling, supernaturally-exposed ski route—a most unlikely avenue of possibility carved through the heart of one of the Sierra's fiercest walls. I can't help but want to share my excitement about it. And yet the entire line is also inarguably a death trap, likely among the spiciest 1300 vertical feet yet skied in the Sierra. Even the living legend himself was "apprehensive".

Enjoy the footage here, and decide for yourself what madness transpired there last April and May. I apologize that things are kind of raw; this was not our best day (or days, rather) with the camera. Pesky thoughts of terror kept intruding. That's my excuse, at least. One quick note of thanks to Trevor Benedict, who assisted on our first scouting venture up the lower part of Muir, and carried the D7000—no small task! Finally, sorry about the language! For some reason, we were swearing a lot more than usual on that day...

  1. Mark Jiroch says:

    Congratulations on the first descent. EPIC!

  2. MIke says:

    Epic is right. I am in awe.

  3. Congrats Andy, in my opinion there wasn’t enough swearing. Two things:
    1: Tell Super-Dave He needs to see about doing video narration on the side. I can totally see him narrating a Nova Special on Polar Bears. Resplendent with special voices and random cries of “Hairball”
    2: Ya gotta do the Giant’s Steps Coulior so we can live vicariously through you (risk bypassed.

    P.S. I really enjoy your T.R.’s

    P.P.S. You are absolutely bonkers :)

  4. Andy says:

    Agreed! I keep telling Dave to give up that JPL gig and get into voice over work! :)

    As for the future, I would say our work is not yet done…

  5. Dan Conger says:

    Epic … crazy, but epic.

  6. Michael says:

    What’s amazing to me is the route finding on the descent.

  7. Chris M says:

    Wow. Sweet. How do you learn to kick turn on THAT?
    Seriously – do you have an ‘advanced skiing technique’ blog for learning that stuff? and do the BD whippets ever get in the way of that technique?

  8. Andy says:

    Chris, I do have a post on steep skiing that might help, but thanks for reminding me–I was going to do a followup, based on some areas where I want to improve…

  9. Greg R says:

    Went back and revisited this video and I’ll say this…you guys are ski MOUNTAINEERS! Plake and Frannson(RIP) have got nothing on you guys. You go out there and get after it! Great inspiration in this largely snowless winter.

  10. Andy says:

    Yeah, I’ve been watching some of the oldies also. Also planning on re-editing some of the classics like Couloir to Nowhere and putting it on my YouTube channel. With what is now 4+ years hindsight, I’m glad we did this…but I’m much more glad we came home.

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When there is snow, SierraDescents is Andy Lewicky's California backcountry skiing and mountaineering website. Without snow, sierradescents becomes an ill-tempered hiking and climbing blog.

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