Wind powered


Many Glacier is shaped by the wind. On even the harshest days during the kind six months of the year, you only see the obliquest angle of this. In winter, it’s full bore: wind sucked down off the continental divide down three gaping drainages and blasted out onto the lakes of the main valley.


M and I got it the minute we stepped out of the car. Parked on ice, you could almost get blown off your feet putting on ski boots.


Typical winter conditions in Many involve lots of drifting. We had packed-snow sastrugi for the first part of the reservoir, until we rounded the point at caught the 60 mph gusts full force. Skiing against such a wind on bare, textured ice is not so easy, so we bailed into the road.


The going on the road was not so easy.  Some bits had snow, some had ice, and some had nothing but pavement.  Transitions eat time, so skiing in the ditch is often the way to go.


M hasn’t done much winter camping, and deserves a lot of credit for putting up with all this.  It takes a unique attitude to get into a windy, frustrating day of travel.  Fortunately the wind died with the sun, the stars were huge, and we had the Seek Outside Big Sibling stove to take the edge off the dark, and the coyotes howling to keep us company.

And scenery the next morning to investigate.


Not much like a late, winter, delicate at 10 am sunrise to enhance the feeling of being the only person on an alien planet.

The snowed in hotel added to the effect.


We had a bit of hiking on the way out, but also a screaming, wind powered ski down the ice of the lake, dodging sticky patches while hitting 10 mph just coasting during the strongest gusts.

It was awesome.

6 responses to “Wind powered”

  1. It was awesome, but also, kind of terrifying… the wind was so strong it felt, at times, like there was no control, and even it you tried to stop the wind would just keep pushing you.. Sometimes it felt like I could have hit a patch of sticky snow, fallen over face first, and the wind would have pushed me, crumpled in a heap, along the ice forever… it was one of those moments of suspended tension where you have to maintain just enough force and just enough flexibility in your legs to stay upright… except instead of being a moment, it was like an hour or more of suspended tension, until the snow got thick enough to provide a consistent braking surface. Whatever… awesome!

  2. Nice! No need for a tarp-sail, eh? And I guess winter camping means no wolverine/fisher project this year? The photo of Gould looks soooo amazingly calm. I could just stare and stare at it.

  3. That looked effortless on the way out. Wheeeee!

    And the hotel scene looks spookily like the one from The Shining. “Come and play with us, Danny. Forever… and ever… and ever”.

    1. Every time I see a picture of Many Glacier in winter I can’t help but think the same thing, Joe.

  4. Wild. Loved the video.

  5. […] Many is nice, but St. Mary hems you in quickly and hard. Besides the usual nuclear headwind and weird snow, at 7 miles you have a short piece of mandatory, low-level avalanche exposure (visible at far right). More on that later. […]

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