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

Image
Trailhead


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.

Image
Nick skinning

Image
What??

Image
Becca skinning

Image
Cool sun


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

Image
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.

Image
Bristlecone


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.

Image
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.

Image
Nick on summit

Image
Becca on summit

Image
Looking toward Quandary

Image
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:

Image
Looking northeast

Image
Becca and Bald Mountain

Image
Sun

Image

Image
Becca getting it

Image
Yummm

Image
Happy


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):
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19


 Comments or Questions
SolarAlex

Nice!
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


EatinHardtack

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


DiamondCutter

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


BKS

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


Hoot

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!


Hoot

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!


eskermo

Re:
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.


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



   Using your forum id/password. Not registered? Click Here


Caution: The information contained in this report may not be accurate and should not be the only resource used in preparation for your climb. Failure to have the necessary experience, physical conditioning, supplies or equipment can result in injury or death. 14ers.com and the author(s) of this report provide no warranties, either express or implied, that the information provided is accurate or reliable. By using the information provided, you agree to indemnify and hold harmless 14ers.com and the report author(s) with respect to any claims and demands against them, including any attorney fees and expenses. Please read the 14ers.com Safety and Disclaimer pages for more information.




© 2021 14ers.com®, 14ers Inc.