With all the west facing lines filled in and melting out fast I’m loving the ability to sleep in and get late starts. This was another one with a 9am start from the Devil’s Thumb Trailhead. I made good time up Cabin Creek even though my headphones seemed to be crapping out for most of the ascent. This peak would be an epic from the east side this time of year, it’s only a couple hours from the west.
At the summit I snapped pics of the Snow Lion and Leopard and got a really nice look at Apache and South Arapaho. The Indian Peaks are so beautiful cloaked in snow and this spring there is plenty of snow. I clicked in after enjoying a snack and made my way down the ridge to the entrance to my line. The entrance rolled over nicely and things got steeper. The snow was money in the upper couloir. Down to the choke things were pretty good. At the choke things got interesting with some blue ice in the upper 50s. Below this things opened up and I skied hot pow down to Cabin Creek.
The exit was a mix of poling, skating and finally skinning. Not a bad tour.
I wasn’t planning on getting out today but everything seemed to work out and I figured I’d give it a go. We didn’t leave Denver till about 10:30 so I was more than a little dubious on the way up. Aspect can be everything. The high cirrus clouds also helped; the only question was whether the thunderstorms would stay at bay. You never know till you go though so up we went. At the bottom of the summit gully things got dark but instead of building the clouds dissipated and we kept moving upward.
We dropped in from the summit and got the best corn of the year so far. There has really been much corn this year, with all the new snow this spring it’s been all about the pow. At about 3000′ of vertical and 4.4 miles round trip this is a quick and dirty line you can get on late. Thanks for the suggestion DougE.
I’ve been wanting to get back into the Keyser Creek zone for a long time. This would be easy if I had a sled but without one not so much. I headed up the night before and car camped to get an early start. In the am I made coffee and watched the sunrise and then headed up the long way, via the Byers Peak Trail from Deadhorse Creek. Once I got to tree line it seemed like I was there, I was mistaken, that ridge is a bear, it never seems to end, but the views are dramatic and the sense of being truly alone is truly profound. Finally at the summit I didn’t dare go near the edge of the East Face, the cornices are massive up there and they are still overhanging.
From the summit I dropped west into the unknown. I knew there was plenty of coverage from a day up on Bottle Peak not too long ago. What I didn’t know was how much snow the line I was heading down had. I was in luck though and found a nice gully. The skier’s left side had about 8″ of well bonded wind rippled pow. I couldn’t even feel the hard slab underneath. Heavenly turns ensued down to the choke. At the choke I slowed things down to see if it went thru and I was in luck, though the choke had poor conditions, I was back in luck at the apron.
I headed up valley to a glacial know below Bills North Face and set up the Big Agnes Three Wire Bivy for the night. This was my first night out with it and it was time to learn the new setup. The evening light was amazing and it was nice to play with the camera and just decompress from an ever maddening world.
In the AM I was bummed to realize that my stove was out of gas. I had enough water from boils the night before but cold coffee just isn’t the same. I headed up Bills via a wide gully and the made my way up the Northeast Ridge. This was spicy and I actually had to back off and pull out my ice axe at one point. There’s nothing like spicy solo climbing to center oneself. Getting to the summit was a challenge. The summit was guarded by a huge overhanging cornice but as it wrapped around to the east it mellowed out a bit and I was able to cut my way thru it.
Being solo and not having a spotter I wanted nothing to do with the direct lines threatened by the cornice. I skied down the ridge a little ways and dropped into the first line not threatened. Down a fun spine over some exposure to a narrow slot. At first I wasn’t sure if it even went thru, I was stoked to see that it did. It was narrow and steep with angle above 50 and a width at the narrowest around 200cm. The snow was a little on the thick side but it was manageable. Such a money line.
I had planned to hit another north facing gem nearby but while I was putting the bivy and camping gear away it started to snow and then I heard the thunder. It was time to go and the safest way out was via Bottle Pass and then back down the Byers Peak Trail, this route would keep me below treeline.
Got out with the Phil Lindeman, the sports editor for Summit Daily News and skimo athlete Teague Holmes. Phil wrote up a great article about it for today’s paper. Honored to have been invited to join you Phil, and it was great to finally meet you Teague, let’s get out and do it again guys. Maybe next time we can progress it up a notch.
Or, to be more accurate, they slowed me down. Lesson one of the backcountry is humility and I quickly learned it with my partners. Holmes and Sperry are no strangers to this kind of rugged travel: New York native Holmes finishes with pro skimo racing in February and spends most of April, May and early June touring the routes in his backyard, while Bronx-born Sperry wrote the book on Tenmile touring. Literally: His 2012 guidebook, “Making Turns in the Tenmile-Mosquito Range,” is the only comprehensive print guide to 42 peaks and nearly 60 ski routes between Frisco’s Mount Royal and Buena Vista’s West Buffalo Peak, including six 14ers, from Quandary and Sherman to the foursome of Mounts Democrat, Lincoln, Cameron and Bross.
“The best mentality is to have humility: humility with the people you join and humility for the mountain,” Holmes says after checking his watch once more. “I like to go into it with justified confidence. You always know there will be risk, but if you’ve evaluated everything that can go wrong and shown the mountain humility, you can be safe….”
I’ve been waiting for the upslopes to come for this one. Finally with the storm last weekend it seemed like the way to go. I had some apprehension though wondering whether the 2+ feet of new would be stabilized but I figured I could manage it if need be. There are so many nuances of aspects in chuted faces like that; I figured there had to be an aspect that the sun had settled out. I love a good solo and this 4,100′ vertical line is a great solo. I will call it a rare classic. I was also nervous about how thick the trees were in Parry Creek; I was relieved to find a great line with decent spacing. This is a spring line for sure and without upslope loading probably isn’t gonna be in. Get it while you can.There’s a short, skis on downclimb or if your knees are better than mine you could jump it. I’d wait for another storm to refresh it.
Got up for a fun tour from Berthoud Pass Summit to Winter Park Ski Area. Skied Current Creek Bench, Y Chute, Something in Second Creek, Chimney Chute and Zero Creek Bowl. 5,000′ of descent and about 8 miles covered. All the laps were pow and some were pretty fresh. This is a cool traverse with only about 3,800′ of gain. North Chute on Russel didn’t look very good which was why we went for the Bench instead. Stayed away from the ridge line routes as there was a small skier triggered slide on Postage Stamp.
Fun day and nice to meet you Jarrod. Way to tough it out. Be sure to hit the HD button on the video.
Got up for a morning dose. It’s always a challenge to find some lines that are moderate and offer safe turns in the winter. The East Slopes of “Mt Machebeuf” provide just that; not that we were worried too much about stability this day. We got the little chute up in the alpine and the trees, then had some fun skiing the Y Gully. This was a fun quick outing as I had to get back to Denver to speak at REI that night. No matter how much I prepare I still have some sort of technical snafu when I do a presentation.
Thanks for joining me Jason. We need to ski more than every 2 years. It was fun chasing your skimo speed with all my heavy gear. 3800′ of vert and back to the car by noon.
Got up for a couple laps on Berthoud the other day. Tried to get into the Knuckles but the pack was super hollow in there. Mines 1 skied really well with more than a foot of snow blown into it. Good to meet Luke on the way up and ski a few laps. Thanks for the tour Allison.
After a frustrating day before, I was scratching my head trying to figure out a better tour. I’ve been wanting to get this line for a while and just needed the snowpack we have right now. The northeast aspect protected and trees cached the 6″ we’ve recently gotten. The higher winds just added to the tally and we finally hit the goods.
We headed up Butler Gulch with the intent of skiing the Divide Chutes but they didn’t really look all that great, read windfucked. The snow in the protected north facing trees along the skin track seemed fun though, so we headed for Hourglass. The upper section was wind hammered so we took the low entrance and it was money. Couldn’t believe no one had been back there yet considering that there were like 20 cars in the parking lot. At the bottom we figured out the plan, skins on and head across the valley to the top of Jones Brothers,; though with all the activity over the last few years this name would only apply if they were Siamese twins. The skin was really easy to the base of the south east ridge of 12085′ the skis went on the back and we had some fun moderate snow and so ski bouldering to get to the summit
A very short walk down the ridge had us at the top of the 1,600′ line. There was a cap of slab at the skier’s left of the entrance but by staying on the margins we avoided under cutting it. Green light avy conditions doesn’t mean it’s time to follow bad protocols, if you hit the sweet spot you can still set off a slide. We skied it in sections one at a time yo-yoing our way down. The deepest it got was about a foot and a half. About two thirds of the way down we switched to the east side of the chute to find snow that hadn’t seen sun hit. It was the right call as the snow stayed dry to the bottom the line. one hundred feet of trees and we were at the gate for Butler Gulch.
Thanks for a great tour and the nod goes to Alpine Restaurant and Bar in Georgetown for their amazing meatball sliders. Your food rocks Tina and Aaron.