| Silverheels from Hoosier Pass
It's finally spring break and Scott and I were able to take a couple days off for a short vacation in summit county. After skiing Copper on Sunday and checking the weather forecast, it looked like Monday would be a good day for hiking. Chicago Transplant's recent trip report on Hoosier Ridge got me interested in that area and I finally decided on Mt. Silverheels as our objective.
We arrived at Hoosier Pass a little after nine, got our gear together and were on the trail at the crack of 9:30 with beautiful blue skies above and fantastic views of Quandary and Lincoln. We carried our snowshoes and didn't need them through the trees as the packed trail was still solid. Once at treeline, we peeled off from the main ski trail and headed up the slope leading to Hoosier Ridge. We stopped at about 12,500 with a good view of Silverheels and decided to stash our snowshoes and crampons. Contouring beneath Pt. 12,614, we crossed a couple small snowfields and found ourselves at about 12,850 on a ridge that led to Silverheels' NW slopes. We could see another ridge to the east with powelines at the saddle between it and the north face. Here's where I should have read the contour lines a bit better or checked some trip reports before we left. We decided to take the western ridge and ended up having to navigate through deep snow in some willows to a low point of around 11,900. Although the snow was still fairly solid, we knew we didn't want to come back this way later in the day after having ditched our snowshoes. We climbed steeply up to Silverheels' NW ridge, over a couple bumps, and finally reached the more gentle upper portion of the ridge. The weather to this point was still quite nice although we were starting to see some lower clouds rolling in and a bit of spitting snow. Still, we never had to put on our shell jackets and were fine with two layers.
The gentle upper portion of Silverheels' NW ridge
This was our first hike of the season after being extremely busy with school this semester. Suffice it to say, we were both pretty exhausted at this point and we just hoped that we would find an easier option for our descent. We stayed at the summit long enough to snap a couple photos before heading down to preview the route.
We made our way west, angling below the summit over snow covered, loose talus. It was fairly frozen in place, but not the most fun terrain. Scott was working his way toward a snowfield that we could descend that ended directly at our intended ridge. We got out our axes and plunge-stepped our way down.
Scott in the snowfield
Our descent route
The low point connecting this ridge to Silverheels' north face was at 12.500 and had we taken this route on our ascent, we would have saved ourselved a bit of elevation gain. Oh well, it gave us both an appreciation for the size of this mountain. We worked our way around the snow-filled basin, crossing only minor patches of snow and finally reached our stashed gear. The wind was starting to pick up but luckily it was at our back for the rest of the trip. We kept the snowshoes off but Scott was started some serious postholing - I had the advantage of being behind him and was able to tip-toe around the soft spots he fell in. After about four or five thigh-deep postholes, Scott called it quits and we put our shoes on for the last 1/4 mile or so.
I estimate our circuitous route at about 9 miles round trip with approx. 3,800 feet of elevation gain. It took us 7 1/2 hours - Hoosier Pass may be a high trailhead, but there are many ups and downs along the way to Silverheels.
Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):