The Presi Traverse has a few variants and wikipedia does a fine job of hashing out all the details and options available. A few seasons ago, the idea was planted to do the whole traverse on Alpine Touring gear, and the concept of the Presidential Range On-Ski Traverse was born. Actually completing such is another story. Ideal timing and snow conditions are essential. Predominantly NW winds carry most of the above treeline snow into the lee which also happens to expose it to the sun’s powerful radiation. While I was busy training and traveling for the Power of Four, a series of storms pounded the range with a significant portion on SE winds. Snow was now placed where it would be preserved longer combined with conditions to grow rime ice on the usually rocky summits and conditions were about as good as they could get for such an endeavor. Now all that was needed was a weather window.
March 9th conditions aligned and despite Jonathan S’s claim of the PROST likely being, “an exercise in frustration,” Nick, Dima, and I gave it a go. It was a great tour and scouting mission for some bigger days that are in the works. The ratio of good skiing/distance for this tour is low but there are some fun sections of skiing. As Dima said, “Keep your expectations low and you won’t be disappointed.”
- The spirit of the PROST; get down on skis (from the summit if possible which all are), climbs can be booted, some of the rolling descents were done with skins on, sideslipping/sidestepping done where needed, and skinning on rock/brush probably mandatory.
- Rock skis mandatory.
- I Skied from every summit (Madison, Adams, Jefferson, Clay, Washington, Monroe, Franklin, Eisenhower, and Pierce including a cool little chute from near the summit of Monroe.
- Skis on the whole way besides booting a short bit to the Madison summit and a short portage somewhere between Monroe and Eisenhower.
- Stats are similar to a standard traverse; my Ambit clocked 20 miles and 9800 ft of ascent (I did a short ski on Jeff snowfields as I waited for partners).
- I’d never skied South of Monroe, Eisenhower was holding some very nice snowfields.
- The Hiking trail often isn’t the most efficient ski/skin route. I’d be happy to share beta with anyone who is interested.
- Did I mention rock skis are mandatory.
I won’t bore you with prose but let the pictures do the talking.