The Sliver is on many skiers' tick lists for several reasons. It's an improbably steep and constricted 1,200 foot gash on the east face of Nez Perce and it offers a fast and fun slope as a result. Just below the Sliver, however, there's an equally awesome section of terrain in Garnet Canyon full of short, narrow gullies, pillow-like boulders and ridges, and tight trees.
What Makes It Great
Many people are familiar with Garnet Canyon for being a passing through point during summer hikes and climbs. But in the winter it's a completely different beast. It may not feature gnarly, pacy lines like the ones on show at the Sliver, but it does offer an awesome destination for adventure/exploratory skiing. Traversing over ridges and around and down gullies, you never know exactly what you'll find.
There are some cliffs in Garnet that you certainly won't want to ski over. Skiing down carefully and never going super far in a single shot is the best bet. If it looks a little dodgy immediately in front of you, ski a nearby line and scout the unseeable one for your partner. (A partner is recommended).
Another wonderful aspect of skiing in Garnet Canyon, which adds to the exploratory adventure, is that it's often unpopulated. There are rarely any other tracks, and the snow is surprisingly very good. Even after a few sunny days, it will remain fresh powder, rather than crusty or heavy snow.
Who is Going to Love It
Of course skiing in unknown terrain necessitates a level of care above and beyond the usual avalanche knowledge you typically need in the backcountry. It's also very quiet around Garnet Canyon.
Directions, Parking, & Regulations
Skinning into Garnet takes a bit more work than the other areas accessed from the Bradley-Taggart trailhead. You have to cover some ground horizontally – heading north -- before the skin track starts gaining any significant elevation. From the Bradley-Taggart trailhead, you skin north over the ridge between Taggart and Bradley Lakes and then drop down onto Bradley Lake, the more northern of the two.
Continue across the lake; the real skinning (the vertical kind) begins just past Bradley’s western shore.