Citadel Ski Tour
Start at the "gate" Loveland Pass exit ~10,600 into Dry Dulch - 6 AM
Summit Citadel 13,294
Out Herman Gulch to Herman Gulch Trailhead at ~10,300 with a Car Shuttle - 2 PM
Who - Mickeys Grenade (Jeff) and Chuck
We were able to drive to the gate at ~10,600 from the Loveland Pass exit. We left the car at 6:00 AM and carried our skis in to Dry Gulch for a short time. Then we were able to skin up the valley floor with our skis on.
Looking Back Out Dry Gulch
We left Dry Gulch and climbed up a steep hill to the North while carrying our skis. There was a dry ridge that we followed up to the "bench". Climbing this steep hill was difficult with ski boots on.
Sun Hit Across the Valley
Almost to the "Bench"
Chuck Climbing up to the Bench
The snow covered bench was great for skis!
We headed West with our skis on, along the flat bench. Next we turned Northwest and carried skiis up to the dry saddle at the low point of Citadel's Southeast Ridge.
Dry Saddle on the Low Point of Citadel's Southeast Ridge
We followed the Southeast Ridge to the summit.
Looking up the Southeast Ridge
Chuck Climbing up the Southeast Ridge
Looking Down on the "Bench"
We stopped a few hundred feet below the summit on the Southeast Ridge to leave our packs and skis at the top of our descent route in to Herman Gulch. I built a snow anchor with my skis and used a short piece of rope to head down the slope while on belay to dig a snow pit. There was a lot of snow there. I dug a hole 3-4 feet deep and did not reach the ground or the depth hoar. I did a shovel compression test and the snow would not fail. There was a very hard ice layer underneath the 4-6 inches of soft snow. I pulled out the entire 3-4 foot column and it stayed intact! I came back up to the top and then sent Chuck down while on belay to check out the snowpit and then fill the hole back in with snow. We decided to leave our gear there and head to the summit. I felt comfortable with a whippet. Chuck did it without a whippet or an ice ax. He said that it would have been nice to have an ice ax. We had to traverse some cliff bands on snow and then climb up a short 40 degree snow couloir to the final summit ridge. There was some post-hole action along the traverse that was annoying! After the snow climb, there was a short rock scramble to the summit with one or two class 3 moves to the summit. This was intersting with ski boots on!
From the Summit Looking at a Slightly Lower Summit
Chuck Descending the Snow Couloir
We made it back to our skis and our backpacks. Now its time for the best part. The ski descent.
It was a blast skiing the East Face of the Citadel.
The descent out of Herman Gulch was tough There were times where you would post-hole with your skis on. Some sections were not snow covered. You had to either take your skis on and off or walk across with your skis on. I had one incident where my ski went under the snow pack and my shin smashed against some semi-hard snow. It hurt! We perservered and made it to within 20 minutes of hiking while carrying skis to the Herman Gulch Trailhead. I had a great time in the mountains today. We were back at the cars at about 2:00 PM. I don't think I will be doing anymore ski tours this year unless we get some more snow fall.
The photos below are from Chuck.
I'm getting Ready to go Dig a Snow Pit
Looking Up at the Start of our Ski Descent
I'm Digging a Snow Pit
Jeff in the Snow Couloir