This 2021/2022 season felt like a study into the aspects of Nitonupuri. Earlier in the season we’d sked the SW aspects and southern aspects, and absolutely loved it. Today the weather was stellar, and we were keen to check out the other aspects Nitonupuri offered.
Contrary to the route guide above, we climbed Nitonupuri from the southeast (route guide coming). It was a concerningly warm day for February, following a warm day the day before. The whole southeastern face appeared to be baked to a crisp. If we were lucky it might soften just enough to make it half-way decent skiing on the descent, but this ascent up the southeastern side made us even more keen on checking in on the western side.
We soon gained the false summit under windless, perfect skies – a rarity in February.
Furtively, I skied off the summit, somewhat apprehensive about what we’d find with the surface conditions. Beyond all expectations, however, this WNW slope from the summit was fantastic. I set up lower down and called the crew down.
Having launched himself off a number of natural jumps, Tim was beaming when he caught up with me.
“We should just lap this all day!” he exclaimed.
On the back of a clear-sky, cold night, we were essentially skiing on a thick layer of soft, delicate hoar frost, on top of good quality powder. The good turns continued into the well-spaced woods below.
It was hardly even a debate over whether we’d lap this slope. We transitioned quickly and started the 30 minute trek back up to the treeline.
On the way up, I tried not to focus too much on my envy of those skiing the eastern face of Chisenpuri just west of our position. Those were some big lines in perfect weather.
My second ski down the west face of Nitonupuri was just as exhilarating as the first.
Unfortunately, however, I was a little too quick in my drop in. A large guide-led group was already at the treeline when we arrived, in various stages of transition. I whipped my skins off quickly and sped down the face to get into position so I could photograph our party coming down. Just as I left the treeline plateau however, I spotted the guide to my left. The large group was to my right. Apparently I left a sour taste in the group’s mouths, as the rest of my party got an earful from the guests – the guide had been setting up himself to get shots of the group skiing fresh tracks, apparently.
In the confusion of two large groups dueling it out for their slice of the west face acreage, my party ended up skiing the WSW ridge to the south of the west face. They figured the tour party must have been fixing to ski the juicy west face slope.
In the end, once they’d all made their transition, the tour group also inexplicably skied the ridgeline.
In hindsight I probably should have waited the 20 minutes or so till the large group had skied off.
I could only be left pondering the complexities of Nitonpuri on a bluebird day. Surely the moral of the lesson is to get there early to avoid the madding crowds.
We were still keen to at least try skiing the southeast aspect today. So after regrouping, we climbed back up out of the west face on our nicely laid skin track back up to the false summit.
It was now 2pm, and the baked southeast face was starting to crust over again. We survival-skied our way back to the cars – more on the southeast aspect in another post.