Peak(s):  Hagar Mtn  -  13,220 feet
Date Posted:  03/12/2018
Modified:  03/14/2018
Date Climbed:   03/11/2018
Author:  benlen
Additional Members:   SarahT
 Hero Snow on 13er Hagar   

Hero Snow On Hagar Mountain

The peak after our ski.


Following favorable reports of larger lines on the I-70 corridor from Ben Conners, I began to hit up my backcountry ski partners in earnest to see if they'd be down this past weekend for a peak ski descent. Sadly Joel Paula was working, and even worse, Otina Fox had sadly suffered a broken leg on Vail Pass. Both my backcountry mentors, my teachers, were out.

Finally, my friend Joe from Denver, a Denali and Aconcagua summiter, as well as a fantastic backcountry boarder to boot, took me up on my offer at 9pm Saturday, March 10th. "What the hell, why not?" seemed to be his attitude. In this mediocre snow year, getting into the backcountry was a fun diversion and escape from overcrowded lifts and groomers littered with rocks.

I filled Joe in on my plans. A post to Instagram revealed Ben Conners had skied Hagar Mountain mid-week, and he was gracious with sharing his beta.

The CAIC reports were green above tree line.

And a storm had just deposited some new snow, not too much, but enough that I thought it could provide great skiing without weakening the snowpack in such a way that I'd be wary to avoid the heights.

The worry and question was wind loading. Would that make a ski descent out of the question?

The only way to find out was to load up, head out the door early Sunday morning, and find out. The forecast for Sunday looked almost too good to be true: no wind, and warming temps. This was the window I was looking for.

This season, I hope to ski Golden Bear, The Citadel, and of course, Hagar (now skied.) Worst case scenario, I figured we would play on the low angle terrain and capture some photographs for beta for other skiers and riders to use to inform their own decision making.

The Road to Hagar

Joe skins up from the forest.

Joe and I departed the Dry Gulch trailhead sometime after 7am, and met a few other skiers, none of whom were going for Hagar (or even seemed to know it existed.) We skinned alongside I-70, coughing from the fumes from vehicles until we were safely in the woods.

It was then we encountered two badass snowshoers, one man with a thick accent, and a woman with the build of a marathon runner, who totally smoked us breaking trail. Our paths would diverge and cross one another as we made our way out of the forest in the most efficient means possible for each of our chosen means of transport: skis didn't like the meandering up and down along steeps like the snowshoes did, and the snowshoers grew impatient with our less direct means of ascent.

Joe's skins were giving him some trouble, as they struggled to grip on steeps, and the split board didn't seem to help things. Alas, Joe suffered through it until we came into sight of our chosen ski line.


Above the forest, we now had a 360 degree view of Golden Bear, The Citadel, and Hagar. The Citadel and Hagar appeared skiable, with promising snow. Golden Bear looked out of the question: dry, dry, dry. I didn't bother taking a photo.*

The Citadel.

Hagar looking delicious.

Our line on Hagar, the Southeast Face, looked absolutely delicious. The new snow had filled in the tracks Ben Conners had made. I couldn't believe it. Here Joe and I were, seemingly the only skiers going for this line! What a treat. We would have to get closer and examine the snowpack to get a feel for it. Going for the summit seemed inevitable, whether we would ski down we would decide once we got closer.

It was with great joy (at least for me) that we removed skis, put on crampons, and began the boot pack to the summit, following our snowshoer companions. There's something about putting in boot pack I really enjoy. The closeness to the mountain, the cardiovascular workout, and the reassuring bite of the whippet, ice axe, and crampons in the snow and ice. I'm so much more comfortable on steeps when snow is involved.

The climb up the steeps, photo of me by Joe.

Summit Time

Joe on the summit.

Me representing team orange and yellow on the summit.

Scrambling to the summit in ski boots was somewhat awkward, but Joe and I came out on top shortly after noon. The concern now was the snow heating up too much, and possibly causing additional dangers. Joe and I snapped quick summit photos, and then I began to gingerly walk down from the summit to see if the snow covered up the hidden rocks.

Yep. Lots of hidden rocks. If we skied from the summit, it meant core shots for sure, and possibly a dangerous tumble. We would have to descend slightly to ski safely. This didn't concern me, as when it comes to skiing, it's the quality, and ease of travel on skis, that makes me ski peaks. Not notching a peak from the very summit isn't a huge concern for me.**

The Descent


Joe and I keyed our BCA radios on, and I set out to ski the line first, as I would pull over and retrieve my camera to capture photos of Joe's descent.

My initial turns down the Southeast Face. I pulled over for photo ops.

The descent was glorious, and worth all the effort, as I hope these pictures showcase.

Joe starts the descent.

Catching air and then spraying snow.

Keeps getting better.

Joe makes it look effortless.

Just fantastic all the way down.

Can't see Joe anymore.

Joe passes me and heads down the rest of the face.


Looking up at what we just skied.

Joe and I were all smiles until the base of the face, where we knew we'd have to put on skins again before we could ski out. All in all, our trip comprised of ~8 hours, a trip made longer by the fact that the warming caused the horrid glop to appear on our skins. Not so much fun. But we got back to the car, enjoyed some water, and then Joe began the battle back to Denver while it was smooth sailing driving the Outback back to Vail.

Leaving our mark on this beautiful line.

*It's worth noting that sometimes I can be mistaken in identifying peaks. Ryan Richardson is WAY better at identifying peaks. So if I identify a peak incorrectly, feel free to comment and correct!

**A note. I consider and list this as a ski descent, but I can understand if some insist you ski right from the summit. I'd love to repeat Hagar again, and do it from as close to the summit as possible and still avoid core shots.

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

03/13/2018 18:21
I wouldn't be too concerned about getting smoked by a female snowshoer. She's probably the most accomplished female winter mountaineer on here. Nice ski!


Was that you?
03/13/2018 20:14
Monster5 you weren't the guy with her, were you? Cheers to her, I never feel ashamed of a lady kicking my ass!


03/13/2018 20:57
You ran into SarahT. How did the skinny Tracers do in variable conditions?


03/13/2018 21:05
Nice meeting/chatting with you two. Wish I would have seen you ski down!


03/13/2018 22:42
SarahT: I did not know I was in the presence of such a star! Salutations. Also, Joe and I were way too slow for you guys to witness the ski descent, haha. We did see you guys make your swift exit!

Natalie: Good question, the new Armada sticks are legit€‘€‘great in corn and powder, and an absolute blast up the skin track. Joe commented on how I wasn't breathing hard at all, haha. They handle Colorado "ice" well too, but refrozen crusty shit is not their friend, that's when the lightweight penalizes me.

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