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Ramshorn Peak – A boyhood dream

Maybe it’s where you were born and raised,
Maybe it’s what you learned from your parents,
Or maybe it is what burns deep inside you.
I just know that some dreams grow stronger the longer you live.
For me, the only place is the mountains, this is where I belong.
This is my dream.
– cf –

Winter in the Hoback

Winter in the Hoback

This year I made good on a dream that has been with me my entire life. Sometimes it smoldered, other times it burned bright, but it was always there. My childhood home, (from birth until I was a freshman in high school), was the ranch at the head of Hoback canyon. When my family owned it, the ranch was the V-V Ranch. It is now the Black Powder Ranch. The signature peak that towers over this little piece of heaven is Ramshorn Peak. I have skied all my life, and in fact, I spent many a day honing my skiing skills in the foothills around my home, with Ramshorn as the backdrop. Somewhere in my subconsciousness I began to dream of skiing this beautiful peak. After moving away, and moving on to other things in life, the dream faded to a small smoldering ember. But, it never died out and a few years ago as I began to immerse myself into backcountry and ski mountaineering, the flame was fanned and this peak definitely made my “to do” list.

Thanks to a fortunate series of events that lead to finding a couple of willing recruits, (Andrew C. and Mark B.), we were able to get together and climb / ski Ramshorn earlier this month. I knew roughly how I wanted to approach the peak, (from all my days of hunting around it, and a climb to the summit a couple of summers ago), and I found some excellent route descriptions in the book, “Jackson Hole Backcountry Skier’s Guide South“, by Thomas Turiano. Our main target of the day was the big, classic NE bowl and if it worked out, I was looking at the NE Couloir from the summit. We ran a little short on time, and the conditions on the summit into the couloir were a bit sketchy, so I opted for the main bowl only. (The summit and NE Couloir will be there next year). Mark was the only one of the three of us to actually summit. He was by far the most fit, and so I told him to go for it.

The bowl skied great, and aside from a few dirt spots that we had to hike through, we pretty much had our skis on all the way back to within 50 yards of the highway. A long, but rewarding day, and most importantly a DREAM FULFILLED!!!

The historical photos below are scanned images from some old 35mm slides. As you look at the images, if you are older than a “gen X”, you will be taken back to a day when we used slide projectors to “share” photos.

This photo was shot in late May, or early June as we were bringing the cattle in for the annual branding session. On this morning I definitely would have rather had been staying warm by doing some skiing. It was definitely a bit brisk.

It's a cold morning on the horse.

It’s a cold morning on the horse.

The peak was always there, calling my name every time I left the house. This shot is from our back porch of the house that I grew up in.

Ramshorn from our porch.

Ramshorn from our porch.

This is the view that our guests were treated to as they stayed at the ranch. This photo dates back to the 60’s. It was taken in front of the main lodge at the guest ranch.

The cabins at V-V Ranch.

The cabins at V-V Ranch.

Here is a shot of my siblings and me. Behind us are the foothills where we honed our skiing skills. The area to lookers left in the picture is where we would setup race courses made from willow branches. I think there were some early versions of terrain parks also built there. The high point on the far right in the photo was my first “peak” ski descent. I hiked up this in the 6th or 7th grade and made the descent. That definitely was one of the triggers that started to light my backcountry dreams.

Playing on snowbanks.

Playing on snowbanks.

The following photos were taken on our recent ski trek to Ramshorn’s NE Bowl.
This photo is of the ridge that separates the Kerr creek drainage from Lime creek drainage. It was steep and narrow with these huge cornices all the way. In early season, the monsters could be deadly, and we still treated them with caution. But, they were rock solid on this day.

Cornice alley

Cornice alley

Here is the peak from point 9625 at the top of the “Cornice Ridge”. At this point, it was tantalizingly close, but yet seemed like a lot of work still to do. As usual, it almost never seems as bad once you set out and just go do it. Our route took us climbers right in the main bowl, just south of the northern sub-peak.

Ramshorn Peak

Ramshorn Peak

At the bottom of the main bowl and very big avalanche gully, you hit the old Kerr Creek road. This looks to be a very popular snowmobile route, and in the winter months, or bigger snow years, you could “cheat” and use the sleds to eliminate the long, arduous skin in from Cliff Creek, or Hoback River. On the one hand I’m tempted, but the purist in me wins out and I will skin/climb in from the bottom.

Mark takes a break as we transition at Kerr Creek Rd.

Mark takes a break as we transition at Kerr Creek Rd.

Andrew relaxes at the bottom of the NE bowl.

Andrew relaxes at the bottom of the NE bowl.

A little bare ground to be negotiated.

A little bare ground to be negotiated.

Mark is ready to hi the NE bowl.

Mark is ready to hi the NE bowl.

This shot was taken as Mark and I set a skin track to the final ridge and a bootpack up the bowl. (photo by Andrew Chilles)

Mark and Cody on the skin track.

Mark and Cody on the skin track.

We didn’t get a lot of action shots, but this is one of me near the bottom of the main bowl before transitioning into the big avy chutes. (photo by Andrew Chilles)

Cody descend the NE bowl.

Cody descend the NE bowl.

The obligatory selfie, not on the summit of Ramshorn, but on the summit of point 9625. After a little rest and fuel stop, I’m all smiles and ready to get the final push in.

I'm almost there.

I’m almost there.

Back at the cabins and after a very big day, I’m showered and ready to hit the road for the trip back to Boise. That was a long drive, (arrived around 1 AM), but Andrew humored me and we talked the whole way back while I sucked down the Diet Cokes. (photo by Andrew Chilles)

A dream is fulfilled.

A dream is fulfilled.

2 comments

  1. Bert

    Proud Dad!!!

  2. Bert

    Proud Dad!!

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