Peak(s):  Silverheels, Mt  -  13,822 feet
Date Posted:  04/18/2015
Date Climbed:   04/13/2015
Author:  GerryRigged
 Seven Years in the Making   

South Face of Silverheels from 285

My back country adventures began in 2000 but I really got into climbing and skiing in 2008 after seeing Chris Davenport's movie about skiing the 14ers. I drive Highway 285 quite a bit and have wanted to ski the south face of Silverheels since 2008. Because of work and weather and snow conditions the chance never came up but I retired in June of this year so now I can pick and choose my days. I had been watching and waiting for the line to come into condition and it finally got there about two weeks ago. Andy and I planned to ski it as soon as it was ready so I called him and we set the date for April 13 which was supposed to be a blue bird day but not to warm. We started from the truck at about 6:45, crossed Taryall Creek and were at the abandoned cabins in about thirty minutes. At this point we got our first view of the ridge line we needed to climb.

We went across the meadow and started up the slope but had to find a way around this blow down mess.

We hit tree line at about three hours. From here on the climb was straight forward up the ridge line.
Andy at tree line

As we came up over one rise we spotted this herd of around fifty big horn sheep. As soon as they saw us they headed up and around the next rise then appeared to our left headed across a huge talaus slope in single file. They covered in ten minutes what would have taken Andy and I at least an hour to walk. Oh to have four feet, but then how would a person ski with four feet?

At about the five hour mark we hit the last gentely slopping ridge to the summit.

And were soon on the summit (4.2 miles). We stopped a lot to BS and take in the scenery.
Ten Mile and Mosquito ranges behind

Evans, Beirstadt far right, Grays, Torreys center right, Bald Mt center left

In planning this ski I was somewhat concerned about the degree of slope down this face as I had estimated it from the Map Source topo map at around fifty degrees with the possibility of a cornice or convexity at the top. We were estatic to see a beautiful 45 degree slope with the smoothest corn snow a person could ever want. Our timing was perfect as there was about one or two inches of corn on solid snow. We sat down and had something to eat and drink and to take in the scenery.
Looking down our line

I got firstys and dropped straight from where we scoped the slope. We leaped froged each other going from safe spot to safe spot until there was no danger of avalanch. From there down to the end of snow, well below tree line was a game of who got there first. I sure do get a kick out of skiing through tight little gullys and dodging trees and rocks.
Looking back up the line

Looking down from the same spot

Looking back up from farther down the line

Looking down more of our line

Andy with a big smile after a fantastic ski

We stopped for some more food and water where we thought the snow had run out but when we looked behind us we saw it continued on for a ways more in an adjacent gully. Back to ski tag.
This tree reminds me of the devil's pitchfork

Any takes his helmet off to start the long treck out

We finally ran out of snow and had to face the fact we needed to get back out of there which meant climbing back to near tree line and into the Silverheels Creek drainage. This was a long, arduous treck through the trees by GPS. There was just enough snow to make it too dificult to walk but not enough to for a continious ski so we slogged along with skins on over snow and bare ground all the way back to the truck ( 5.3 miles from summit to truck). We arived at the truck at 6:00pm for a round trip of about eleven and a half hours over 9.5 miles. It was worth every step!
Blue is ascent, red is decent, green is treck out

Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):
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Comments or Questions

Very nice report!
04/19/2015 02:26
This is exactly the sort of adventure I hope I’m still up for when I retire...
(many years from now... more than I like to think about!)
It looks like you had a stellar day out! Thanks for posting!


06/21/2015 00:29
awesome gerry

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