Jun 25 2016

Berthoud Pass to Moffat Tunnel Traverse plus Jenny Lake Bowl 6/11-14/2016

Well this didn’t go as planned. I was originally hoping for a traverse from Berhoud to Wild Basin. Again the weather had it’s way with me. I felt like the entire experience was a lesson in futility. My goal was to do a light mostly solo traverse across the Front Range, skiing as many lines as I could along the way. Yes weather would be a factor but if things played out the way they normally do i could ski in the am and cover ground in the pm. Well the first day I got in 4 lines, the next day I got in two and avoided the storms the rest of the day. Day 3 was really tough in that the storms came at 9am and kept up all day. It was that evening that I met Allison for a resupply and was having serious doubts.

The next morning was the last straw with 70mph winds and the prospect of a 20 mile day to keep on schedule. Then there was the skiing factor. With all the weight of a 5 days supply of food skiing steep lines was just plain scary. I called it then and rearranged the schedule to get in some other lines that I knew would be gone after the travere was done. I think I made the right call.

It’s important to do what you love well. I felt like I wasn’t doing anything well. Routes for the book were getting missed and I was going around the very ridge I was trying to traverse. Another time perhaps.

Radiobeacons prime lines guarded by broken cornicesour line in backgroundFlora FunNon stoppedmy bedFlora's other side from WitterWitter Welcome CouloirFun skifrom another angleEast EvaLake below East Evataking the low road due to lightningthe way to Jaes Peak LakeGood MorningFun Turns down James NorthHaystack was goodTaking the very low roadwaiting for resupplyJenny Lake BowlEntranceFun lineLoking back from Rollins Pass Road

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Jun 25 2016

James Peak Shooting Star Close Call 6/8-9/2016

This was a tough one. We went in via Mammoth Gulch to access the east side of James. The plan was to camp near James Peak Lake and get a nice early start for Shooting Star. This access route isn’t recommended as there are two parcels of private property to cross. The owners were kind enough to allow us passage but the St Mary’s access should be the preferred method. On the way up very cloe to the lake the storm came in and we got drenched setting it up in  hurry. The rest of the evening was spent drying out and fueling up for the next day. The clouds parted for little while in the evening.

I made a big mistake with this line by not getting us started early enough but looking back I wonder if were alive now because of my oversight. I had been skiing so many west facing lines that I erred in not adjusting my start time to an east facing line. In the morning we made breakfast and geared up. Not sure what time it was when we started but the snow was still cold. We made our way across the lake and up the slopes to the apron of the line. Here we put on crampons and got out the axes. We made good time to just below the junction of Shooting Star and Super Star. We were following good route finding protocols by sticking to the margins of the slope near the rocks to avoid exposure to rock fall.

Then bam!!! A massive cornice fall came cascading and crashing down the very line we were about to enter. Chunks of ice the size of school buses and refrigerators came exploding down the line. It was a close call by the very definition with the ice chunks a mere 10 feet away from me. Our day was done and we switched over as fast as possible for our exit.

The ski out was a somber one though we did find the sandwich we dropped on the ascent. As we munched on our reunited lunch we pondered how lucky we had been.

Mammoth Gulch RoadWet everythingA break in the stormLinesApron

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Jun 25 2016

“Golden Bear” Hagar Citadel Pettingell Hassel – Tunnel to Butler Traverse 6/7/2016

After checking out conditions on Pettingell’s North Chute I knew that this tour needed to be done. I wanted the benefit of sleeping up high to give a little assist for the day so I headed up the Guanella Pass Road to sleep. The lot at Guanella Pass provided just what I was looking for. The alarm went off at 5 am and I headed down the road and got some coffee then went to the tunnel. I was hiking by 6am and only had a short way to go before strapping on skins for the ascent of Golden Bear. The northeast line on Golden Bear was a fun warm up. Hagar’s ridge was fun with a little scrambling near and around the summit. The east face of Hagar was money and I made my way over to Boomerang Gully. The skier’s right was better as the skier’ left was still too cold. Then I headed up Snoopy’s belly to the Collar. That was a fun snowclimb as the snow was still nice and firm. The North Collar line was a bit chewed up and could even have been called bumped out. And then the line I really came for. Pettingell’s North Chute has turned me back three times so far. I eased into it and cut some wet sluff. The bed surface was perfect. So glad I waited to get it in good condition. After that I headed for Hassell. About half way up I heard the thunder and looked to the approaching storm a few ridges to my west.

“Oh geez!”

Time to find another gear. I climbed 1000′ faster than ever on my 5th 13er of the day. At the top the change over was under a minute. Down the East Bowl I went and then into Butler as the rain and grauple started. I was at the trees when the lightning and thunder came at the same time. A fun day in the hills.

Mt Wilcox morning alpengloGolden Bear WestCoon HillSkiing BoomerangSouth CollarNorth CollarSkiing North CollarLooking back at CitadelHagar's North FaceSkiing PettingellThis zone looks interestingBottom of PettingellPettingell North FacePettingell CloseupHassell West sideFrom the top of HassellHassell's East BowlDropping into Butler

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Jun 16 2016

Pettingell Peak East Ridge to UN13,418 – Fun in the hills – 6/6/2016

After cutting my western Indian Peaks trip short I headed to Zuma for a little camping and to get in position for Pettingell. It was nice to carry a light pack and just ski. I went up the East Ridge and had fun playing on the steep rock and snow. I was planning on doing the traverse from Eisenhower Tunnel to Butler Gulch the next day but wouldn’t be able to get all the lines I wanted so this seemed like a good chance to get the fun lines on UN13418. The timing was perfect and the snow was money.

Herman GulchHeading for the saddleNorth ChuteRidge fun, thanks Scarpa for the MaestralesI'm skiing the chuteMmmm creamed cornFun line

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Jun 16 2016

Watanga 12,375′ Hiamovi 12,395′ Irving Hale 11,754′ 6/4-5/2016 – Exploring the Roaring Fork

After Byers I fueled up with some coffee and had some dinner in Fraser. I headed up to the Roaring Fork Trailhead and made up the 4Runner house. It was hot that night and sleeping was rough. I slept in and got started up the trail at about 10am. The Roaring Fork trail is part of the CDT. But there was still plenty of deadfall for such a popular trail. Chalk it up to it being early season. On the up the gps was helpful in navigating to the correct drainage. At this point I slipped and fell while skinning over some rocks; I broke my pinky breaking the fall. Time to bust out the tape. I found Twin Peaks but couldn’t see any viable lines so I pressed on to Watanga Lake. I timed it pretty well I think. I crossed the lake and made my way up the South Slopes. These peaks seem Ideal for winter fun with mellow angles on some aspects surrounded by glacially carved grandeur. After reaching the summit I snapped some pics and got in a beautiful sunset ski. I found good snow all the way to the valley below and set up a bivy at the bottom of the drainage leading to Hiamovi. It was a windy night and the throbbing of my pinky also kept me awake. One of the main goals of this little trip was to dial in my solo bivy set up for future trips.

At sunrise I woke up and made some coffee and oatmeal. Gotta have fuel. The skinning was easy to Hiamovi and I made great time to the summit. The views of the other Indian Peaks to the east were impressive. However the two lines I was looking for weren’t in on Cooper and Marten, so it didn’t seem like the best idea to go into the other drainage. So I just skied Hiamovi and Irving Hale and returned to the Roaring Fork drainage. Note to those that follow “The east side of the creek is a mess, cross the river and get on the trail for the exit!”

TrailheadMy baggageSummerWatanga LakeTwin PeaksHeading up WatangaApache West FaceLongsIrving HaleSkiing WatangaSunset from my BiveBivy SiteHeading up HiamoviWatanga East FaceIrving HaleMarten West ChuteBack Side of Ohh La LaWest Couloir PiauteSunset

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Jun 10 2016

Byers Peak 12,804′ Southeast Gully 6/3/2016 – A Long Solo

After success on James I headed to the Deadhorse trailhead and got ready for the next day. I had planned to go for K Chute on UN 12393′ as well so this day was looking like 14 miles and 7000’+ of vertical. I made good time to the summit of Byers but it was clear that two lines just wasn’t going to happen this day. I thought the direct line of K Chute was north but it’s actually east facing and would be scary with how warm it was getting. So just one line this day, the mountain will  be there for another attempt.

It was nice to get some alone time. Perhaps some more tomorrow.

This looks familiarYesterday's funPettingell West FaceHagar North FaceHmmmmEast Face/ Southeast GullyFun Line, steep summit chokeLower down the SE GullyBottom of the SE GullyOptionsLots of options

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Jun 10 2016

Summit Daily News Column #1 6/10/16 – Failure and Persistence

Published by under Published Writing

I recently signed on as a columnist for the Summit Daily News. I’ll be writing monthly for print the second Friday of the month. It may be Summit County or it may not be, but it will focus on the moments that move me during the adventures I live for.

Link Below for the Whole Text and Photos:
Summit Daily News Column#1

When I research routes for my guidebooks, the “Makingturns” series, I try to focus on cool lines and spend a lot of time looking at topo maps, scanning Google Earth for potential routes.

The west face of James Peak inspired me. It’s a 13,330-foot peak between Winter Park and Idaho Springs on the Continental Divide in Arapahoe National Forest, where snow tends to stick around early into the summer. But, would it be enough this close to press time?

James Peak, 1st try

Life sometimes gets in the way of success. We can’t always schedule our free time around the weather, so we have to just show up and give it a go.

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Jun 10 2016

James Peak 13,301′ West Couloir 6/2/2016 – Finally

Life changes sometimes. I finished moving out of my house and loaded up the storage unit, it was a lot of work but had to be done. Time to ski and finish the guidebook. Sacrifices for success are needed sometimes. I got in touch with Scott and made the plan to go back and get the West Couloir done already. It’s not that hard a route but the weather had its way with us on our first two attempts. We drank too much and slept in finally getting started at 8:10. We made great time to base of the couloir and were climbing it around 10am. The couloir is nicely inset and hallway-like, as it should be.

It was so great to finally lay turns down this line. The snow was perfect for about 80% of the line, only getting punchy down at the apron. It’s not super steep or anything with a measured choke steepness of 46 degrees, but its great vertical and the lack of information on the line it was really cool. Jim Creek Delivers!

Will miss that house, garden and life :(Heading out of townNew HouseCampfires and rumGetting thereScott in front of ParryFBS_9247Upper skiingSuch a fun lineMmmm so satisfying

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May 25 2016

“The Citadel” 13,294′ Snoopy’s Tail – 5/24/2016 – Perfect Corn

After James, I headed over to the campground on Zuma Road to get some rest, the GPS had the James trip at 12.7 miles and 4200′ of vert. I was very tired and got an early nights sleep in preparation for this days fun. This of course included a visit to the camp by a young black bear. I tried to chase him off but he decided he didn’t like that so he charged at me. I yelled at him and he bailed to the Snake. That was a little exciting and made me sleep in the truck. In the AM I made my coffee and made the drive over Loveland Pass to get to the Herman Gulch Trailhead. It was sweet seeing the alpenglo on Citadel. My partners for the day, Gary Fondl and Devon O’Neil arrived shortly after myself. Devon is doing an article about guidebooks for Backcountry Magazine. The premise is about developing the books for the increase in users. I feel very honored to be a part of it.

We geared up and got a nice early start in hopes of a corn harvest. We kept the pace conversational and got to know our new partner for the day. The freeze was really good the night before and we made decent time to the notch below the Tail, covering it all on skins to the notch. Once there we checked out the Belly and threw on our crampons. The upper 300 or so feet is steep and exciting. The summit itself is airy.

From the summit we dropped into the line after discussing how we were going to shoot it. The corn was the best of the spring so far and it was really cool to be so close to so much exposure on the North Face, a mistake to your left at the entrance would be fatal. The East Bowl skied very well too and it was fun dialing in the Apostles on such good snow; I haven’t skied that fast in a long time.

Thanks for the tour Gary and it was nice to finally meet and ski with you Devon. Oh and this is a bit more difficult a first line than I normally like to get with a new partner, but you handled yourself very well Devon. Looking forward to getting out again.

From the PassDevonGary pointingPinwheelSkinning to the notchGetting steepIn the chuteTop of the BellySummitGary on topEntryGaryNice cornBold tele turnsAwesome day

 

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