Peak(s):  PT 13,546  -  13,546 feet
Date Posted:  11/13/2015
Date Climbed:   11/02/2015
Author:  moneymike
 Back in Action   

Hey everyone. It's ski season again. The long, depressing days of summer are finally over, and my dark gloomy mood is starting subside. I'm feeling a lot better now that the snow is falling. Other people are even starting to notice my mood change. My girlfriend, for instance, says I'm finally being nicer to people. Like when people ask me what I've been up to, I now say "skiing," instead of "not a god-damned thing!" Or when people ask me how I've been. I'm starting to respond with "I'm great, thank you," instead of my usual response, "shitty, there's no god-damned snow!"

So, now that I'm in better spirits, I thought I'd come back to and start sharing some stories again with you folks and check out what everyone has been up to. I'm trying to catch up with everything I missed since I went into hibernation in July. I've been reading the summer trip reports for the last couple weeks. I'm going through them alphabetically, and so far I'm only half way through the Bierstadt trip reports, but I promise I'll get through all of them. I'm sure they're all very informative.

Anyway, here's a trip report of a ski descent, in marginal snow conditions, of an obscure, unnamed 13er in the Sangre de Cristo range.

Peak 13,546 is located one mile to the northwest of Willow Lake, and is connected to the centennial, Mt. Adams. All but one mile of the route follows the Willow Lake trail, outside of Crestone, CO.

Just to update everyone, the recently constructed dirt road approach to the trail head used to be an easy 2wd road just one year ago. However, a bit of erosion has occurred and left some pretty big bumps, which might be a problem for low clearance 2wd (i.e. don't take the Porsche).

Monday November 2, I left Colorado Springs and arrived at the Willow Creek trail head in about three hours. By late morning, I hit the trail with hiking boots on my feet and skis and boots on my back. If you haven't been on this trail before, check out the Kit Carson and Challenger trip reports. It's as easy as a Sangre de Cristo trail can be.

I cruised the snow-free, south facing trail up to about 11,000' where I ditched my hikers and donned my ski boots. The snow was thin, but skinable to Willow lake.

The trail goes left (north) around the lake and climbs up in elevation to get above the waterfall above the lake. Before the waterfall, you come out of timber and cross scree slopes. This is a good place to leave the trail and begin your bushwhack, north into the basin below peak 13,546 and Mt. Adams.

At the beginning of the scree field, climb up and left onto a steep, grassy slope. If you veer left, you can gain a ridge. This slope is south facing and will likely be snow-free or have very little of it. You might even find some game/social trails to follow in the grass. Once you have gained the ridge, follow it into the basin.

If you've made it this far, you shouldn't have much trouble navigating your way through (very manageable) willows and tundra to the base of 13,546.

Looking down on Willow Lake

Looking north into the basin

Pt. 13546

Boot's eye view of Mt. Adams

Pt. 13546

The path you take up peak 13,546 should depend on your assessment of avy conditions. For me, the snow pack was thin (one layer) and sun and wind hardened. I considered the avy hazard to be low, but still practiced safe travel techniques. I headed to the back (north) of the basin before ascending a low angle ramp of snow up and to the left. Then I followed a steeper snow slope directly to the ridge (the ridge connecting this peak with Mt. Adams).

Once on the ridge, it's a safe and easy hike to the summit.


Damn! I might have to add this one to my list

Looking north

On the summit looking down to the San Luis Valley

How many Sangre 14ers can you see?

Looking down the SE face

I descended straight off the summit, down the SE face and made my way slightly left.


Above the cliff bands, I made my way into a narrow gully of moderate angle (mid to high thirty degrees), which took me all the way down into the basin.

Onto the apron

For the hike out, I just followed my path coming in. Even at a very leisurely pace, stopping for food and to enjoy the views, I still made it back to the car before dark.

A Sangre ski tour without using a head lamp? That's unusual. None the less, time for a little reward...


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

11/13/2015 13:48
Yesssssssss. I’ve been waiting to see that little ski icon for what seems like forever. Can’t wait to get on some snow this weekend. 8)


welcome back!
11/13/2015 15:07
I recommend you start reading the summer trip reports from the back. This way you may encounter a couple reports on Weminuche...Summer is not as bad as you’re trying to portray it, lol. If you’re not into climbing, I hear mountain biking is a decent pastime for skiers when there’s nothing else to do. Anyways, I am finally getting excited about skiing myself. Looks like a pretty good start to the season so far.


11/13/2015 15:14
Any idea what peak that is that you have to add to your list?


11/14/2015 08:31
gspup: Get after it!

SnowAlien: 31,300’ and 58.5 miles? Ugh. My knees hurt, just reading your trip report.

kushrocks: That’s Mt. Adams seen from the west. The approach to that snowy NW face seems pretty lengthy. Maybe I’ll have SnowAlien scout it for me.


11/18/2015 11:00
Welcome back! I’ve had my own, again, this summer. May the snow cure all.

I thought about skiing this peak once, but then just added it on with the other 13er gems in the region for a fun scramble romp. A few other Sangre 13ers on my list, like Twin Peaks A east face looks fun. Wonder how heinous the approach will be.


Good call
11/18/2015 16:54
Took me too long to realize that Twin Peaks is skiable. It was pretty obvious from Lindsey – as in "what’s that caked mountain amongsts the dry Sangre peaks?". Basically same aspect as Ellingwood. Approach shouldn’t be too bad – there is a trail to Zapata lake.


there he is
11/20/2015 19:54
welcome back from hibernation! Glad you were able to gather enough beer to get you through summer. Looking forward more of these man.


Thanks dillonsarnelli
11/23/2015 12:02
Hopefully, this will be a snowy and productive season!

Bergsteigen: I’m glad you’re recovering and getting out there. I’ve been looking at Twin Peaks A as well. Hopefully SnowAlien is right about the trail. It looks like it would be a pretty long day.


Hitting it early
12/02/2015 06:37
Willow Clipper!

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