With medical school graduation approaching, the usual team headed south for a final 14er ski descent together.
Many thanks to the Benners group who wrote an excellent TR a month ago for this line. I won't add too much in this report regarding the route, as others have described it well in past reports.We departed Denver and headed to the deserted ghost town of Telluride to catch a decent night of sleep.
Arriving after 6pm on a Sunday makes for an interesting time finding a place to eat. After hitting the jackpot with some Detroit style pizza, alarms were set and we looked forward to the fun tomorrow.Departure from the trailhead was around 5:25am and unfortunately began with hiking boots for the first 3/4 of a mile. The shoes were cached and exchanged for skis at that point and we began the trek up the Cross Mtn trail turning left into the forest after hitting 11,000' and contoured over to the Slate Creek meadow. Snow was supportive and great for skinning.
Up in the Slate Creek drainage, the snow became dust covered quickly and began to soften in the hot late-April sun.
Chris and the dusty snow
The views of the San Juan's as the route continued up the ramp were absolutely stunning.
The awesome views up the ramp
Route up to the summit
Snow consistentcy was becoming soft but not concerning. At times a bit of a crust was apparent but it would likely soften by the time we descended. When the skinning got too precarious as the slope steepened, we began the bootpack.
Up in the col, the sun's intensity amplified and made the temperature feel somewhere around 80 degrees.
Topping out at the col
To El Diente
Most skis were left at the col as the summit ski was not in, and we began the short Class 4 climb up to the summit. There was very little snow for this last 50 feet so we had to negotiate the wonderfully loose Wilson group rock with ski boots.
The summit fit the four of us and some gear, that was about it. It makes it to the top of my list of favorite places above 14k.
Returning to the col
The snow was just past the point of being perfect up top as the sun had softened it quite well. There were no wet slides as we ascended and only minimal slough during the ski down.
Approaching the Boxcar entrance
The Boxcar entrance was dry for about 20' of downclimbing. Then we clicked in and began the classic descent.
The rest of the pictures show the Type 1 fun had by all.
The snow is melting out quickly in the San Juans and with the settling snowpack the window for good continuous lines is getting shorter by the day.
Back at the TH, after a cold muddy foot soak in the creek, priorities changed to food and hydration and we set out toward Telluride, taking in the magnificence of the unforgettable San Juans.