Got up early for a quickie in the neighborhood. Me and Allison met up with Kevin and we headed up to the Ruby Gulch trailhead. The trailhead is recently reopened following the construction at the mine. There is a new parking area just below the trail. Use this and park all the way off the road. We headed up the trail with the intention of checking out a line on Parnassus and then heading up the east slopes of Woods. That’s exactly what we did and were treated to sweet skinning and moderate booting. Once at the top we headed across the ridge to our line. The skiers left side of the bowl gets more snow from cross loading. It was loaded nicely and skied very well. There’s a hard layer under the new but the bonding was alright. The skier’s right of the ski line had a little bit of a wind slab that we avoided. As long as you weren’t turning too hard the slope skied great. Back at the ride by noon. Plenty of time before picking up the kids at school.
We headed down the night before and camped near the Browns Creek trailhead. There’s a ton of sweet camping spots nearby. You know you’re in for a long day when you’re camping in the juniper. The alarm went off at 4am and we were on the trail at 6:15. We were treated to a very fine sunrise. This route is one of the longer options for 14er skiing. Unfortunately it really is the best way to get Tabeguache done. Jones Peak provides the splendor though with it’s spires and Mount White, to the north of the trail also inspires with it’s beautiful rock formations. Once you make it to the Browns Creek Falls intersection plan of skinning intermittently to Browns Lake. Past this you can stay on dirt and hike if you like. From the lake you will go to a willowed clearing. This is marked as a lake on the topo. Cross this semi-clearing and head from the North Face of Tab. The snow was rock hard yesterday so I just hiked one of the ridges up. With ski crampons you could easily skin most of it. The North Gully would make the most sense but even that has steeper sections that approach 45 degrees. Like all Sawatch peaks this one is a grunt to get up.
The skiing yesterday wasn’t very good. The winds, which were gusting to 60 mph were tough to deal with. They kept the snow cold so it was very firm. But it’s still nice to ski right from the summit and get in 3000′ of vertical. About halfway down I had to take the skis off and downclimb about 40′ of vertical. Once back at the trail I skied as much as I could but was thwarted by the need to shoulder them on too many occasions. 15.1 miles and 5500′ of vertical or so.
Allison thanks for a great day in the hills and kudos to you for turning around when you thought it was too much for you. It takes a lot to walk so far and realize it’s not doable. I also appreciate that you let me go for the rest solo.
I did a big loop around the state selling my new greeting cards and took a ton of pictures of lines. Hope you see some stuff that makes you want to go ski some routes. Info is in the captions. Have an awesome and safe spring. Use your head it’s the best piece of equipment that you have. Start early and watch those temps.
It’s always good to go for it. After heading around the state doing some sales it was time for some skiing. I’ve been itching to get on some big peaks for a while now and I’m finally feeling better after getting struck down by the flu for almost 3 weeks. Met up with YC and we headed down in his Taco. Blanca Road is a tough beast and with not so great shocks we didn’t make it very far up the road. We had an hour and a half walk on dirt before we hit the snow in the gulch. The original plan was to go for Little Bear and Ellingwood but with so much vertical added in and YC coming off the couch and getting better from the flu too we opted for just the one peak. It turned out to be a wise choice.
We made it to Lake Como before one of the groups up there was awake. We then caught up with a lone climber heading for Blanca right as we got to the site of me and Joe’s snow cave site. It was a trip seeing that. It brought back a flood of memories, mostly being colder than I care to ever be again. Lessons learned and survived are the best lessons.
I dropped the rope, gear and harness at the base of Ellingwood’s South Face and up we went. It was a little later than I would have preferred but by stay on the more southwesterly snow we made good safe progress upwards. There had been about a foot of new accumulation up there that had compacted down to 6″. This wasn’t bonding very well with the older spring type surface. We needed to deal with this but by staying on the southwesterly aspects we could deal with it while skiing instead of while ascending.
The summit ski was very boney. I made a turn right off the summit and hit like 5 rocks. Then I side stepped a bunch and made another turn. I hit like 8 rocks on that one. More side stepping brought me back to the line and good snow. I put in a quick cut and got all the new snow to slide off. The bed surface skied very well. We then yo-yo’d down the line from safe zone to safe zone. There was still potential for snow from above to start moving on it’s own.
The exit out of that drainage is always painful. It’s especially painful when you go past you shoes that you stashed and have to go back up the road to find them. The long walk back to the desert was a challenge. 13 miles roundtrip and 6300′ of vertical for the day. I’d say that I’m ready for the spring. I’m looking forward to many more big lines this year.
Thanks for a great tour YC. Lets get out again soon.
With the big snow in the forecast we decided to head up Friday night and avoid the I-70 shitshow that is Saturday morning. It didn’t work in our favor though, I-70 was closed as we got on in Golden so up 285 we went. The storm was raging over Hoosier Pass and we went and did some business in Breckenridge. Then we met up with Mike and Bryan and headed up Ute Pass to set up camp. Ah winter camping, it is different. Friday night was easy but after a bunch of laps in a snowstorm and then managing temps afterwards Saturday night was less fun. It’s really the waiting game of going to bed. Once you’re in your tent it’s nice and warm, anyway I’m rambling. The skiing was what I was hoping for as we were in a new zone. The east trees of Prairie were stacked with snow from the northwest flow and there was almost no wind. On our third lap we were skiing about 16 of new. It’s not steep terrain but there are sections to be careful around, the creeks have some steep banks.
The next day we hit up Victoria. We had planned to go for another line on Ute Peak but thought the viz wouldn’t be very good. The snow in J Chute was less deep but plenty stable. The spacing over there is just money.
Had another article published with GarageGrownGear.com’s magazine.
The Sky Chutes in Colorado’s Summit County have long been a favorite for backcountry skiers. With Breckenridge’s recent expansion into terrain on Peak 6, and the new sidecountry access gate, getting to them just got a lot easier.
That said, remember that anyone can still climb up to this terrain from the bottom; and for those who do, keep in mind the likelihood of parties dropping in above you.
Got some skiing in this past week. First day was up on Victoria, the next day we hit Dry Gulch. We took a day off for working and then headed up to Grand County. We had a late start and did Bottle Peak with a ski of Bottle Pass. Night time exits are the price to pay for being in the alpine at sunset. The beauty is well worth the price. The next day we went up the other side Bottle Peak into Deadhorse Gulch. The snow those four days was money but the winds were picking up.
Day five brought us to Berthoud Pass after waking up to a low cloud deck and high winds. We did the 3 valley tour from the summit. The last run into First Creek had the best snow but the wind had made things pretty heavy. We need a refresh.
Here’s a video and some choice shots from the day. Be sure to check it out in HD. Thank you Bloomie for putting us up and thanks to Allison, Gary, Zack, Yuki, Nate and Mike for coming along for the fun.
Here’s an excerpt. Click the link above for the full article
“There are only three sports: bullfighting, motor racing, and mountaineering; all the rest are merely games.”
Adding skis is just adding weight to mountaineering, though the descent is far more exciting than walking down.
Some things about winter backcountry travel are obvious, or at least should be obvious – like carrying a beacon, shovel and probe and knowing how to use them, and watching avy conditions closely – but often the subtleties are just as important. Here are a few backcountry skiing tips I’ve learned from years of making turns in remote mountains.”