people in group: Ben Koelker, Mark Manko, and Zach Taylor
ascent route: northwest flank
descent route: east face and northwest couloir
Mt. Belford 14,197'
photo- A view of Mt. Belford from point 13,930' on Missouri Mountain's long ridge. photo by Zach Taylor, 2009.
Ben, Mark, and I made plans to climb and snowboard Mt. Belford a couple days prior. Ben and I drove to the Missouri Gulch trailhead on the afternoon of May 9. We backpacked in with all of our snowboard/ski gear to treeline by the old cabin ruins. At this point in the year all the snow was melted off up to about treeline. The peaks in Missouri Gulch all still had plenty of snow.
We set up camp and started cooking dinner. The sun went down and a bit later we hear Mark yelling out of the dark. He had gotten off work and hiked in after us. We hung out for the night by a nice fire and made plans for the following day.
We got up at 4:00am on the 10th. Belford was immersed in clouds but alot of the sky was clear. We decided to take our time and see if the clouds would clear up. As the dark began to fade so did the clouds. We began to make our way up the northwest flank via the summer hiking tail which still had plenty of snow. The snow was fairly firm without being to slippery. We were able to walk on it with relative ease.
photo- from left to right: Zach Taylor, Ben Koelker, and Mark Manko standing on the summit of Mt. Belford in strong winds, photo by Ben Koelker, 2009.
photos- Zach Taylor descending the east face of Mt. Belford. photos by Ben Koelker, 2009.
The wind began to whip at us as we hiked toward the summit. We reached the top to beautiful views and wind. I wanted a summit descent of the peak which involved dropping of the east face into Belford Gulch and then hiking back up to the summit and descending back into Missouri Gulch where we came from.
Mark and Ben wern't feeling it so they agreed to hang out on the summit and get some photos of me descending the east face. I strapped in and dropped off the summit onto the east face. It was wide open and in good corn conditions. I let loose and made some great, wide turns as I descended into Belford Gulch.
I got to the base of the face attached my board to the pack and started the climb back up to Belford's summit where Ben and Mark were waiting for me.
I saw some fast moving clouds blowing over the summit of the peak. I was shielded by wind while I climbed back up to the ridge between Mt. Oxford and Belford. Ben and Mark were starting to get pounded with wind about this time on the summit. I finally gained the summit ridge and got blasted with very powerful sustained winds.
photo- Zach Taylor climbing back up to the Belford-Oxford saddle. photo by Ben Koelker, 2009.
I tried to walk across the ridge back to Belford's summit. The wind was blowing me sideways and knocking me over. I ended up crawling along the ridge dragging my board across the ground so that it didn't get blown off the side of the mountain. I saw Ben and Mark sheltering behind a rock.
We quickly descended off the summit. As soon as we got off the summit ridge the winds died down quickly and we could walk normally. We hiked down to the top of the northwest couloir a couple hundred vertical feet below the summit. We dropped into the couloir riding one at a time. There was some nice soft, still cold snow on this shaded aspect.
We rode out to treeline and hiked back to camp. Mark and Ben packed up and headed down. I settled in for another night out. I was going to attempt a solo snowboard descent of Missouri Mountain in the same drainage the next day.
photo- Zach Taylor descending the northwest gulch on Mt. Belford. photo by Ben Koelker, 2009.
photo- Zach Taylor descending the northwest gulch. photo by Ben Koelker, 2009.