Before the heat wave crested over Missoula and washed the low elevation snow away, I took a last go at the Rattlesnake. North-facing slopes still held powder, and morning clouds kept things cool enough for good skiing into the early afternoon.
From Point Six I crossed the upper part of the Grant Creek Basin and, after summiting Mosquito Peak, took my first run midway down its north ridge. After sidestepping all the way down this thing in white ice conditions last year, I felt pretty cool racing my slough down to the bottom this go-round.
Back up to the top, and this time a couloir further south on what I'm calling the Mosquito Chuting Gallery.
Steep off-camber snice at the top gave way to settled powder in the main gut.
Mosquito's north face. Tracks barely visible in the gully looker's right and the flaring chute at the center of the frame. Brian Story and I skied the line from the top back in 2008 in foggy conditions before continuing on to complete a stellar linkup of north faces on a loop back to Snowbowl.
With the temperature rising, I made tracks for the unnamed peak directly north of Mosquito. After watching a group of mountain goats scamper away to the east, I skied a terrific run from the summit to a beautiful banana chute before climbing back into the basin and traversing my way out.
The central Rattlesnake doesn't offer the longest lines or the easiest access, but it's a beautiful spot, wilderness with access less than half an hour from town. Beyond Murphy Peak, I've never run into another skier out there.