Peak(s):  Helen, Mt  -  13,164 feet
Date Posted:  01/23/2017
Modified:  01/26/2017
Date Climbed:   01/22/2017
Author:  eskermo
 Winter on Mt. Helen   

Mt. Helen 13,164'
Route: East Slopes
TH: Spruce Creek
When: 1/22/17
Stats: ~5 miles, 2,750' roundtrip
Partner: Becca

I wanted an adventure on my splitboard. It had been a while. Becca wanted an adventure on her splitboard. It had been a while. Mt. Helen looked really good from the lifts at Keystone on Saturday. We studied the East Slope route that evening, procured the necessary Pop Tart and Lifesaver Gummy trail snacks, and set plans for the next day.

The CAIC forecast Sunday morning was yellow above treeline, and green at treeline and below. Mountain-Forecast called for partly cloudy skies clearing later in the morning, along with 20-35 mph winds. Little did we know that when we arrived at the trailhead, near boot deep powder would await us


The Spruce Creek trail was well packed, but no one had been up the trail since the new snow had fallen. Skinning through 2" - 8" of fresh stuff with snow still coming down was delightful.

Nick skinning


Becca skinning

Cool sun

Reaching the Aqueduct Road turnoff, the sun started peaking out a little more.

Wheeler trail turn

We took the hard right turn onto the Aqueduct Road toward the Wheeler Trail and quickly reached the gate. Looking left from the gate, we identified an older skin track heading uphill and finally began gaining some significant elevation.


The steepest section of this route lies here, between the gate and treeline. A few short cliff bands interspersed in the trees guard the more moderate upper slopes. We departed the old skin track to find a line that steered away from the taller cliffs and steeper slopes.

Gaining the East Face

Above the cliffs, we rejoined the older skin track and followed it until it disappeared near treeline. And just like that, BAM! Upon broking out of the trees, that good 'ole Tenmile Range wind greeted us in earnest.

The remaining skin was straightforward up a consistent, well covered slope. Wind was ever present, whipping us relentlessly in the face. There were a couple short rocky sections to cross at the very top, but we were able to keep skins on from the car to the summit.

Nick on summit

Becca on summit

Looking toward Quandary

Father Dyer. Must. Climb. Ridges.

We decided to de-skin, re-board, and un-pole as fast as possible. Just as we were taking our last pictures and starting to head down, two skiers appeared near the summit. A line of 6 more followed not far behind. We strapped into our boards approximately 200 - 300 feet from the summit and grazed a couple sharks at the start. After that, the remaining riding was just about everything a snow enthusiast could ask for:

Looking northeast

Becca and Bald Mountain



Becca getting it



A little windblown and surfy at the top, and gradually softening down lower. We stayed near or within a few hundred feet of the skin track most of the way down until reaching the gate on the Aqueduct Road. From there, we retraced our original skin track down the Spruce Creek trail. It was only necessary to pull out the poles for a really short flat section near the trailhead. Other than that, it was a fast and fun ride down a packed single track all the way back to the car.

What a fun ski! We couldn't stop staring at Helen from across Lake Dillon the rest of the evening.

Thank you to everyone that has posted ski trip reports on this peak previously - your beta was super helpful!

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

01/23/2017 22:32
I was gonna head up there the other evening and got talked into doing golden bear instead...looks like I should've stuck with plan A! Nice work man


Nice as well
01/24/2017 16:09
That is a fun safe peak with great snow. SolarAlex knows what I am talking about


Killing it!
01/25/2017 10:09 usual.


01/25/2017 18:22
Great area. I still have several centennials close by I hope to get with you.


Very nice!
01/26/2017 20:57
I enjoyed hiking up that slope last summer for the ridge traverse. I never thought of riding down it. Great idea!


Very nice!
01/26/2017 21:01
I enjoyed hiking up that slope last summer for the ridge traverse. I never thought of riding down it. Great idea!


02/01/2017 14:41
Alex - Thank ya sir. And thanks for the tour ideas on Strava that I never would have considered Let's tour sometime, I think I might be able to sort of keep up by now!

Brian - I want Clinton and Lackawanna when conditions permit... let me know if you plan to head out there, or if ya plan on any other mellow peaks any time soon.

02/01/2017 23:12
Great idea and good report, Nick & Becca!
I'll have to check this peak out soon!

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