Red Pk B - 13,189 feet
"Golden Bear Pk" - 13,010 feet
Hoosier Ridge - 13,352 feet
Red Pk B - 13,189 feet
"Golden Bear Pk" - 13,010 feet
Hoosier Ridge - 13,352 feet
|Skiing the perimeter of Summit County|
Red Peak B
I've wanted to ski this peak for a little while. A couple weeks ago, I even sat at the trailhead for an hour or so, before I bailed. It was just too hot that day, with a minimal freeze overnight - if there was one. So this time I got myself ready for a long day, and started as early as I could stand it.
I got a view of the sunrise on the peak, before I descended into the trees and the slightly heinous punch crust down to the drainage below. I had been following an ensemble of tracks, but none seemed to go where I wanted them, and I didn't load my tracks onto my GPS from when I skied the Silver on Buffalo a few years ago (oh I would learn to regret this decision later!). The descent down to the valley took a lot longer than desired or planned. As I got to the valley, the clouds moved in. At the time I thought that was a good thing, save the warming for a bit later. Skinning up on firm snow is much easier than slush, this early in the day. I think I followed some downhill tracks for a ways, since I figured that would have to be the path of least resistance. Least resistance in the Gores is relative. The Gores always seem to resist my presence, and make me feel it.
The stream in the valley is definitely in play! The skin up around the waterfall was the hardest part of the day. Non trivial. Also the prettiest part of the trek, other than the views up high.
After the waterfall, the skinning got much easier and I made much faster progress uphill. It also started snowing lightly. Hmmm. I reached the site of a large avalanche from this past epic season. Not much left in the gullies that released all the snow catastrophically. Plenty of tree damage, almost all the way to Buffalo Mountain on the other side! Quite the dangerous little valley in the height of winter!
Shortly after the avalanche zone, I came to where Benners and Lordhelmet's ski guide say to go up. I didn't quite like the thought of difficult skinning on icy firm snow. So I decided to pass and go around and skin up the easiest way. I like easy on the uphill.
As I turned the corner to go up the easy way, the sun started to make an appearance! I got really excited for the warmup and the corn snow. The route up also looked splendid!
The skin uphill went easy and I made decent time, as I anticipated the glorious corn skiing soon to be had. I even thought to myself, it's almost good enough to ski right now! Better hurry the F on up!
Truer words... the clouds came back and so did some snow flurries as I got within eyesight of the summit. Clouds to the north looked ominous.
I was able to skin within a short distance of the summit, where I quickly threw my skis on my pack and hoofed it up through the rocks and snow along the ridge. I wasn't sure I should stay on the summit for too long, just in case any of the oncoming clouds had electrical current potential. So I quickly transitioned to ski mode and snapped a few photos before taking off.
Not too many shots of the ski, as it was rather flat lighting. I used my GoPro, and maybe I'll be inspired to see what it shot, one day. The ski off the summit to the east was firm but edge-able. Instead of dropping down the route Benners and Lordhelmet have in their book, I decide to go down the way I came up. So after dropping down the east face a bit, I contour around the south face, back to the SE line I took up. All that glorious corn snow that had been nicely warming, was now refrozen and I skied the line fairly blind in the flat light. At least I knew the slope angle from the ascent, and could ski it easily enough.
Once I got to around treeline, the corn skiing was on point, and I was able to let my new skis ride hard and carve to my hearts delight! I milked the corn skiing for as long as I could, as soon I knew I would be in the flat valley, and the speed would drop as I had to start skating and poling.
After the annoying flat section, the snow got less and less supportive, as annoyingly, the sun came back out an ~hour after I was on the summit. Oh timing... sorta with me today, and sorta not.
I took a nice long break by the waterfall in the hot sun, and finally ate more than a quick bite. From there I followed my tracks to get to my stream crossing. Snow bridge was still holding up! Yay!
I tried to contour over to the base of the Silver as much as possible, so I could find the uphill path. I knew there was a "trail" in the neighborhood, I just didn't remember exactly where it started. I muddled around in the valley, inspecting a variety of other criss crossing tracks. I started going uphill on a downhill track, thinking it would take me to the trail, but I eventually lost it. So I contoured a bit. Got annoyed with the contouring, and decided to start switchbacking uphill. Maybe I would just magically run into the trail that way? And I did!
After that emotional/mental win, I just followed the trail until I knew I needed to make for the pass. Here I just looked at my GPS and would navigate to a point. Directly. Then pick another point and go there. The track looks like I'm switchbacking, but in reality, I'm just navigating by exhausted brain. This uphill was exhausting and demoralizing. After what seems like an eternity, I reach the top, and just have the short descent down to the trailhead. I don't bother to take off my skins, the snow is punchy and collapsable by this point. No need to speed into disaster!
I pass through the burn zone from last summers fire. A little eery to see it so close to the condos!
I got back to my car and started the drying out process. Boots, skins, skis... all soaked and covered in slush. I tried to think about what to do the next day, but my brain wasn't cooperating. I wasn't convinced there'd be a hard freeze, and I didn't want to wake up early. A good nights rest was required after this long day! Hmmm ski Loveland and maybe ski Golden Bear? Winner!
After a good nights rest, I got up and on the lift for first chair. I waited for the natural terrain to warm up a bit before my first couple laps on chair 9 to the ridge. A bit icy still. So lunch at Ptarmigan Roost! After a nice lunch I went back up to the ridge, and noticed the cat was running. So after a quick lap, I caught up with it for my first trip up on it. Got on my snow chariot and found myself within a short distance to the summit! Much closer than where I skinned to the summit last season (ie from the base). Woohoo! Skis on my mini resort pack, and up I booted!
Popped my skis back on my boots, and headed down to skiers right through some untouched fresh snow I spied on the way up. I wanted to do another lap, so after dropping the face, I contoured back hard right to get onto the track. I figured I would have to go up Ptarmigan first before 9, but somehow I found the magic passage directly there! Nice. Time for Lap #2!
Another quick hike up to the summit, and this time I went far onto the eastern ridge into another zone of untracked freshies. Nice, nice! Got to do that twice!
Having now recovered from my Gore-ing the other day, what to ski next? NO Alpine Adventures (NOAA) was saying chance of snow showers in the morning. I called BS. I figured with the rapid warming, I'd have to ski early anyway before the afternoon storms. Why not take a chance and see what the next day will bring?
Woke up to a clear pre dawn morning with stars in the sky. No clouds NOAA!!! You're forecast is already false. May it continue!
Made my way over to the now familiar trailhead and got on the trail a bit before sunrise. I forgot a few things after a few steps, and had to go back twice. Maybe I'm not fully rested? Haha. The skin up the familiar trail goes quickly, even if the trail is all rough from the constant weekend and weekday traffic. Instead of going for the familiar ridge route up to Red Mtn C, I continue up the drainage. I take the turn roughly where the trail is, and continue up the drainage. Hmmm, this is easier than normal out here. Did I find the Holy Grail of the path through the trees? I think so!
Above the lower drainage I contour under the ridge above, until I got to the point where I had skied down Red's east face last month. Ahhhh... I see I needed to go uphill a smidge on the exit to find the perfect line out! Got it!
I turn the corner and find myself in the upper Horseshoe Basin, looking at my line for the day, and the one from last month.
A quick snack break, and I quickly skin over to the west side of the basin. I figured I could skin to the ridge saddle easily, and I did! Perfect! Not perfect, the clouds had moved in and hovered over my ski line - NOT moving. Hmmm will it even warm up?
After skinning up to the ridge saddle, I was able to skin a short distance more before I had to put the skis on my pack, till I got back up to the ridge to finish the skin to the summit. The wind was now full force up here, and I was cooling rapidly.
I wanted to sit for a bit on the summit and hope for a hole in the clouds, but it didn't happen. The clouds just seemed to keep building, without moving much. Not a good sign. I waited as long as I could, but when I saw the Gore range getting dumped on, I decided to split. I skied the line near blind, again. I kept near the rocks on one side just for visual confirmation. Once below a rocky section to skiers right, I got off the sloping terrain and was able to link turns much better. The lower I got, the easier the skiing. Firm but edge-able, with some blown in powder on top. Then lower down it got slightly nicer. Not corn, but nicer.
As I got to the other side of the basin, I quickly transitioned and skinned up to the nice little drop I found a few years ago. This line would easily take me over to the perfect clear drainage back down to the lower valley. The skies looked pretty wicked to the north, so I was glad to be below treeline already.
I got down to the lower valley, and surprisingly the nordic descent went a LOT faster than it usually does. Maybe because the snow was only lightly corned at this point. Not complaining, since the exit went fast, and I left Summit County before the storm hit!
My GPS Tracks on Google Maps (made from a .GPX file upload):
|Comments or Questions|
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