Nak, Yak and Thar Peaks: Nak n’ Cheese

Beautiful rime covered trees

Last Sunday we headed to Nak Peak for a day trip that I organized through the VOC. A Nak is a female Yak, by the way. On the way it was raining hard, and I was starting to wonder if we were going to suffer in the rain. We had three cars that arrived within 10 minutes of one another, and after not too long we were on our way up. The snow was hard, and the route heads straight up through pleasant glades (well spaced trees). Higher up we passed through a grove of rime covered trees, like natural sculptures.

We arrived to the Yak-Nak col and took a break on a nearby bump, with very nice views of the summit of Yak. The sun came out a bit later, and we got beautiful views of Yak Peak, with its very steep north face. Someone joked about climbing it, from this angle it looked sort of ridiculous. Since many experienced people had signed up for the trip, but there were also a few inexperienced people, I volunteered to do sweep duty, so I was right at the back at this stage. When I saw the group heading towards Yak Peak, I wasn’t too surprised. I watched as they dug a hole through the cornice so that we could get through, and then followed them up.

String of VOC'ers on Yak: what an impressive (but easy) peak!

The peak looked very steep from afar, but as often happens, as I got closer it became less and less steep, and was in fact quite easy to get up. Most of us took off our skis for the last little part, and then we were on the summit. The light on Needle Peak and Flatiron was filtering through the clouds, lighting them up with a magical looking light.

Beautiful light on Needle Peak

We headed back down while a few guys, headed by Veenstra, went to try and cut off a large cornice slightly off our route. I watched for a bit, hoping to get a side shot of the cornice falling, but then I (and they) realized that this was a huge job that would take some time. Finally after about half an hour, the cornice came crashing down, with a big snow cloud as avalanches will do. Perhaps surprisingly no avalanches were triggered on the slope below.

Kathrin passing through a neat tree gate

From there the summit of Nak was just a short way away. Brad took the lead, weaving our way through the snow sculptures to the rounded summit. We skied down easily to the Yak-Nak col, and then skied a fine run on the north side of the ridge. This run started out with a steep convex roll. Anna did a “yard sale” fall here – her skis flew one way, her poles the other, and one of her skis started sliding down, not stopping despite the brakes. I skied down quickly to catch it, but by that time it had stopped by itself.

Piotr and Yak, both call the mountains their home

From the bottom of the run we skied up to the Nak-Thar col. I was quite excited about skiing another run, but most of the group was interested in heading down early. We still had time for a quick ascent of Thar, hardly out of our way. Yak Peak poked its wonderful head through the clouds, beckoning us or perhaps reminding us of its existence. The south slopes had baked a bit in the sun, so the snow was heavy, but still fun to ski. We skied down open slopes right down to the logging road and out to the highway, all smiles.

More photos

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