Peak(s):  Maroon Peak  -  14,156 feet
North Maroon Peak  -  14,014 feet
Snowmass Mountain  -  14,092 feet
Conundrum Peak  -  14,060 feet
Castle Peak  -  14,265 feet
Middle Teton (12,805')
Middle Sister (10,056')
South Sister (10,358')
Broken Top (9,175')
Mt Washington (7,795')
Date Posted:  07/02/2020
Date Climbed:   05/09/2020
Author:  mattr9
Additional Members:   Pagibb
 Dirt-Bag Ski Vacation: A Dream Come True   

Dirt-Bag Ski Vacation: A Dream Come True
17 days of car camping, skiing, and exploring in Colorado, Wyoming, and Oregon

Overall Stats/Info:

14ers Skied (Including Repeats): 9
Tetons Skied: 1
Volcanoes Skied: 5

Total Vertical Gain: Approx. 72,246'
Total Human Powered Miles: Approx. 251.11 Miles
Total Vehicle Powered Miles: Approx. 2,687 Miles

New Friendships Made: 3
Old Friendships Fostered: 3
Total Stoke Accumulated: Near INFINITE!!!!

Aspen, Colorado:
Days 1 - 8 (May 9th - 16th)

Saturday, May 9th:
Castle Peak East Face + Conundrum Peak South Face + Castle Peak North Couloir + Bike Approach to

I decided to spend the first week of my 17 day vacation in the Elk Mountains, hoping to repeat some of my favorites and do a few new ones. I drove up to Aspen Friday night and slept on the side of the road in #Hotel4Runner. I have been building out my 4Runner to sleep/live in and I am pleased to say it is 90% there and I absolutely love it!

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Hotel 4runner! Super proud of this and it is comfortable as a motha F***er!!!!


First up was a solo day on Castle and Conundrum peak. Really enjoy those solo days in the mountains, you get to brew in your own thoughts and go your own way/pace and be almost totally self reliant. I got started around 5:30am, walking on nicely frozen snow all the way to where the drainage for Castle Peak's East face splits off from the road at one of the switchbacks before switching to skins. By the time I got to the base of the East face, the sun finally blessed me with it's warmth. Booting up the lookers left side of the East face was straight forward, although the snow was quite firm and caused my calves to get pretty tired from all of the front pointing. I topped out around 7:30am, enjoyed the views, took pictures of some surrounding objectives, and waited until 8:00am in hopes of the upper face corning up.


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First light, looking back from whence I came!


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First light, the approach goes up this basin and the the right. The East face is not visible.


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Booting up the East face. I ascended the chute to the right.

Since I wanted to do a number of descents today, I opted to drop in before conditions were truly optimal, plus I like the saying "No such thing as shitty conditions, just shitty skiers" haha. The upper face was still firm but nothing sketchy. I skied a few turns down from the summit then traversed right and once I was over the chute I ascended, I skied the fall line. Turns here were quite perfect and enjoyable, wide open and soft. Once I got into the chute, things got bumpy. From the choke down was a good amount of debris, so I had to pick my way down trying to find pockets of smooth snow.


Ski Laps on Castle and Conundrum Peak Video


Once I got to the bottom, I traversed hard left towards a couloir I had scoped earlier in the morning. My idea was to ascend this couloir and drop into the basin that accesses Castle's North Couloir and Conundrum. At the top of the couloir I was hoping it would spit me out on some snow, but I was met with rock instead, but at least I was at the col that links up with the summer standard route. I slung my skis and walked downhill (GROSS!!!) to the basin and headed over towards Conundrum Couloir. I saw two people descend Conundrum Couloir on my walk down and walked by them giving them a nice little "Woot woot!" I would come to find out later that I knew one of them!
Climbing the Conundrum Couloir was very quick, thanks in part to the bootpack that had been set by at least 2 parties ahead of me, and also in part to it being maybe only 600' tall. I watched a party drop into the couloir and the conditions were looking pretty great! Super smooth and soft. At the summit I decided to descend the South face of Conundrum and traverse hard right to link up with the base of Castle's North couloir. I would end up getting 2 descents on Conundrum later in the week, so in hindsight I didn't miss out on anything and got to ski a new line.
The South face was nice and soft and offered wide open turns and high speeds, which allowed me to traverse rather high and make my climb of the North couloir rather short.


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Castle Peak's North Couloir, as seen from Conundrum Peak. The trail with snow on the left is where I walked down from the its Col.


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Conundrum Couloir (red) and my descent line of Conundrum's South Face (blue), as seen from Castle Peak's North Couloir.


The 2 people who I had watched ski conundrum earlier had booted up the North couloir, so again, I had an awesome bootpack and the vert went quick. I was joined by 2 other fellows from the party that I had watched drop into Conundrum couloir. At the summit, I ran into the 2 people I had given a "Woot woot!" to, and one of them turned out to be my buddy Zach Eiten, who I have only skied with once, but is a solid ski mountaineer and climber and enjoyable partner! We chatted on the summit before I dropped in on the upper East face again, this time to optimal corn conditions! I skied the upper face and then traversed hard left to link up with the North Couloir Col. There were a few sections of thin, sharky snow and one section I opted to walk across, but other than that, the descent was very enjoyable. Recycled powder made for some decently soft turns.
Once at the bottom of the couloir when it opens up to the basin, I straight lined across the basin, trying to pop over the small hill and not have to side step. I got close, and after a few side steps it was all downhill back to the car from here. I said some goodbyes to Zach and his girlfriend and enjoyed some very fun and fast skiing all the way back to the tree bridge crossing, followed by some quick dry road in running shoes. Very enjoyable day with awesome conditions, just what I was hoping for!


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Looking down Castle Peak's North couloir into the basin. Might be "Pond-skim-able"


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Recycled powder in the North Couloir, not bad!


After getting to my car, I headed straight for the Maroon Creek road closure to link up with Russ Patterson, Jesse Villines, and Nick Wright. We were attempting North Maroon Peak's North face the next day and were going to sleep at the trail head under one of the overhangs. We got gear sorted out, loaded up our bikes, and began pedaling uphill. After an hour and 1,100', we arrived at the trail head and began making ourselves at home on the stone benches under the overhang. I found out that this climb was quite a special one for them. Last year, they had attempted North Maroon with their friend Aaron Wiener in April, but had to bail based on conditions. this April, he tragically passed away in an avalanche accident. They had decided to come back and finish this peak in tribute to him. I was humbled and deeply honored to have been able to join for such a special occasion. North Maroon peak has always been my biggest inspiration as far as CO ski descents are concerned, and I now had even more of a reason to call this line special!
We agreed on a 3:00am wake up and promptly passed out after watching Jesse devour an entire package of pre-cooked sausage haha


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Home sweet home! Left to right: Nick Wright, Russ Patterson, Jesse Villines.


Sunday, May 10th:
North Maroon Peak North Face

By 4:00am we were moving in running shoes on dry trail for ~1 mile, then perfectly frozen snow. We kept the shoes on all the way to Crater Lake, where we pointed NW and made quick progress up the slope until the flat area Just to the NE of the river crossing. It was here that we decided to stash the shoes and switch to ski boots and skinning. I hung back for a second to catch a time lapse of first light hitting North Maroon and then I proceeded to cross the creek and catch up.
We were making good time and arrived at the base of the North face and Gunsight Notch couloir around 6:30am. We stashed our skins and began booting up the slope that accesses the first snowfield traverse. There was a bootpack in from someone else so the going was real nice! We traversed the snowfield and once we were in the middle of the face, we pointed straight up, weaving our way through weaknesses in the cliff bands. The way we found appeared to be completely covered, with one segment that looked side step-able (we would later down climb it to save our skis, except Jesse, who is a beast!).
After ascending through the gut of the face, we came to the upper snowfield traverse and made quick work over to punk rock. This had been the big question of the day: Will punk rock go?! There was definitely snow on it, but with exposed rock, it didn't look to be a safe option to ski it, but it definitely was side step-able!
After negotiating punk rock, we completed the last little bit to the summit. Seeing each of them come up to the summit was pretty special. Jesse proceeded to call out to the heavens "We did it for you buddy, Aaron!!!!!!" The stoke was all time and everyone was super happy to have reached the summit of this beautiful and aesthetic line, but we all knew that we were only halfway there. It was time to pick our way down this iconic face.


Aaron Wiener Tribute: North Maroon Ski Descent


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Nick and I skinning the basin to the base of the NE face. Jesse is actually way ahead, he is a tiny dot!


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About to head straight up the gut of this line. Such a cool place to be!


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Scoping out the gut of the face: Will it go completely?!


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Russ negotiating Punk Rock, not much left from here.


The turns off of the summit down to Punk Rock were actually quite enjoyable, none of us expected any corn since it was still pretty early and we were on a NE facing line, but it was softer than expected. I approached Punk Rock first and was able to side step it, although it was a little unnerving at times. Russ and Nick opted to down climb and Jesse did his version of side stepping: toe side, plunge axe, hop feet down a few feet and repeat.
Soon we were all ready to ski the upper snowfield and enter the maze of the gut of the face. I dropped in on the face directly below Punk rock and found some pretty smooth snow, opening it up for 2-3 turns before traversing. Everyone else traversed first then dropped straight above the gut.


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Jesse and Russ hanging out as Nick finishes downclimbing Punk Rock.


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Jesse and Russ making their way above the gut from Punk Rock.


The snow in the gut was substantially firmer, being more sun protected terrain. We picked our way back along our ascent boot pack and soon popped onto the lower snowfield traverse. We were very close to being out of objective hazard. We traversed across an FINALLY found soft conditions on the slope that leads down to our skin stash. We all opened it up here and enjoyed these care free turns as we were now off of the no-fall terrain, what a relief!
The stoke was, again, all time and there was an infectious excitement between us all. This will always be my favorite CO descent and I can't imagine how they felt to have completed in in memory of their friend! I was again, humbled and honored to be a part of the special moment!


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Jesse, all smiles as we negotiate the gut. Maroon Lake in the background.


We party skied the basin on some of the funnest snow conditions possible, gathered our shoes, and were soon back at the trail head where we packed up our bikes and headed back to the cars. Riding back down the road took about 10 minutes and minimal pedaling and we all enjoyed some beers at the cars. Unfortunately for them, they had work the next day, so they made quick work of packing up and headed back home.
I decided to treat the next day as a rest day as I waited for my buddy Pat Gibbs to get here from Salt Lake City. I found a park in Basalt and set up shop, enjoying the comforts of #Hotel4Runner.


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Nick and Russ throwing up the universal hand signal for STOKE!!!!


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Our ascent/descent line on North Maroon. A true classic in my eyes!!


Monday, May 11th:
Rainy Rest Day in El Jebel, Colorado + Link Up with Pat Gibbs

I awoke to rains in the valley and had a very lazy but enjoyable morning hanging out in #Hotel4Runner, brewing up coffee and breakfast, and reading. I was so excited to be so comfortable living out of my 4Runner, as my goal is to live out of it next spring and go wherever the snow is good before another Pakistan ski expedition.
Pat let me know he wouldn't make it to Aspen until late that night, so I continued to relax and when the weather cleared for a bit, I went on a nice bike ride up the Rio Grande Trail. I was utterly blown away by the beauty of some of the homes right off of the Roaring Fork River! What a lush and peaceful place!
I finished the day off with more relaxation and reading, and by 9:00pm, I heard Pat roll up next to me. we chatted for a bit about tomorrow's plan and then both went to sleep in our respective cars. He also has his car setup to live in. While not as roomy as #Hotel4Runner, he makes it work, although he is planning to get a Subaru Outback for some #HomeImprovement.

Tuesday, May 12th:
Approach to Maroon Lake trail head

Pat and I had a lazy morning and made our way back to the Maroon Creek road closure. Our plan was to spend 2 nights at the Maroon Lake trail head and try to knock off some fun descents from our "base camp." We made quick work of the bike approach and when we got there, Pat realized he left something, so we both went back down and enjoyed a beer at the cars before heading back up, might as well right?!?!
Our objective for the next day was to ski Snowmass Mountain's East face, but instead of the standard approach from Maroon-Snowmass trail head, we would go up and over Buckskin Pass.

Wednesday, May 13th:
Snowmass Mountain Via Buckskin Pass

We awoke at 3:00am to pretty high winds. We didn't have as good of an overnight freeze as I did on North Maroon, and ended up getting our socks a bit wet after some post holing frustrations. Luckily I brought an extra pair of socks, but Pat wasn't as lucky...
We climbed to the top of Buckskin pass a little after sunrise and skied down some firm but fast snow all the way to the mouth of the drainage that leads up to Snowmass Lake. We pointed to the lake and were soon greeted by a vast landscape. I knew the Snowmass Basin was big, but DAMN! I was blown away at how huge it looked from the lake, it was such an incredible sight! We were wary to cross the lake at first, but I tempted fate and got out onto it's ice and felt fine, so we B-lined it straight across.


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First light as we make our way to Buckskin Pass.


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Pat skinning across Snowmass Lake, The basin and the summit in the background. Huge!


Soon, we were heading up the slopes that access the basin. We were able to skin all the way up into the basin and began crossing the humongous piece of terrain. To our South we had awesome views of two sweet looking couloirs off of Hagerman Peak. The sun was beginning to warm things up as we got to the base of the final steep section to the summit. We decided to press on, the wind had bought us some time thankfully. We joined the ridge to the North of the summit and finished the ridge off with some fun scrambling in high winds. We spent little time on the top due to the winds and were soon ready to descend.


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Pat skinning the basin with the summit getting closer.


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North facing couloirs off of Hagerman Peak.

Right off the summit it is quite steep. there was a layer of new snow there and we didn't know if it was snow or rock, or a little bit of both, that lurked beneath. I conservatively side slipped for a bit until I was confident that I would not hit any rocks and opened 'er up into the basin. I made a few turns and waited for Pat to follow. Once he got down to me, we carefully made our way through the debris and then enjoyed smooth soft turns through the whole basin and back to the lake, where we had ourselves a little picnic and relaxed before the long walk back up and over Buckskin Pass.


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Pat descending from the summit.


The heat of the day was now fully upon us, but our spirits stayed high as we regained Buckskin Pass. The winds had actually kept the East side of the pass somewhat firm and we enjoyed our 3rd descent of the day back down to Crater lake before skinning/walking out to our "home."


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Snowmass Mountain's epic basin as seen from Buckskin Pass.


Having just spent the last 14 hours moving, we promptly had our fill of dinner and went to bed.
The objective for tomorrow: A link up of South Maroon and North Maroon.

Thursday, May 14th:
South Maroon Peak East Face

We awoke to mostly cloudy skies and wind. We were feeling tired from the day before but started the approach towards the "Garbage Chute" which accesses both the "Bell Cord" and "Y Couloir" on South Maroon. The apron below the Garbage Chute was nice and smooth but once in the Garbage Chute, it was absolutely littered with debris, no wonder it has that name!
We decided to boot up the Bell Cord in order to either access the East Face or take the Bells Traverse to the summit. The weather was deteriorating and we even got a little bit of snow as we climbed, conditions were not looking good at all. We decided that an attempt to link both bells was out of the cards and I decided I wanted to climb the East Face solo to see how it was and possibly ski it back to the Bell Cord. Pat opted to top out the Bell Cord and descend to safer ground to wait for me.
The traverse out onto the East face had soft snow but as soon as I reached the East Face proper, it turned into a 2-3" crust. I picked my way up the slope and noted the section that would require some side stepping. Soon I was on the summit and got ready quickly, since the weather was not enjoyable and the visibility was crap.


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Sunrise down the valley from Garbage Chute.


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Pat with a glorious sunrise.


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Beautiful Morning that would get worse.

Skiing off of the summit, the supportive crust was edge-able but scratchy, nothing I'm not used to at this point (Gotta ski the bad conditions to really appreciate the good conditions.... right? haha). I would make a conservative turn, side slip for a bit and repeat. Soon I was through the side step and down to the traverse. I picked the fastest way across and pointed it, not wanting to spend any more time traversing above some small cliffs than I needed to.
Once in the Bell Cord again, I could see Pat's tracks and knew that this firm descent of a heavily debris ridden couloir would be "fun". I was able to find slightly enjoyable turns on the skiers right as I descended if I popped onto the face a little bit, but eventually I was forced permanently into the couloir proper. Lots of side slipping over firm debris and conservative turns.
Soon I was down to Pat and he told me had watched me ski down the East Face and all the had thought was "Don't fall" haha.
We ginger-ly (No pun intended, Pat haha) made our way down more debris in the Garbage Chute and opened it up on the apron for the only enjoyable turns of the day.


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East Face ski descent line to the Bell cord. Cruddy weather.


Soon we were back at our overnight shelter at the trail head and loaded up our bikes to head back to our mobile homes. We were planning to do a 2 night stay at Conundrum Hot Springs and wanted to approach from the Castle/Conundrum basin, so we decided to have an easy day tomorrow and carry our overnight gear to the basin, get a few laps in, then ski back down before making the full push the next day.

Friday May 15th, 2020:
Overnight Cache Emplacement + Conundrum Couloir + Castle Peak North Couloir

We shouldered our overnight packs and made quick work up into the Castle/Conundrum basin. We stashed our bags and proceeded to climb/ski Castle Peak's North Couloir where we found enjoyable but somewhat sharky recycled powder before heading over to Conundrum couloir. Since there had been a little bit of snowfall the day it rained in the valley, we set both bootpacks, knowing that they would get lots of use in the next 2 days from the weekend folks.
Conundrum couloir was firm due to yet another day of poor weather, but it was at least consistent and was actually quite enjoyable.
We pointed the skis back down towards the cars and enjoyed the very fun skiing that takes you out of the basin (So enjoyable, I'd even consider just skinning to the basin and skiing down).
Once we got back to our "campsite" in the valley, we contemplated what to do since weather was not looking the greatest. We found out that Anthony Marra and Nicholas Pearson from Salt Lake City, Utah were thinking about going for the Grand Teton on Monday, which got us excited. We decided to go forward with that plan and to retrieve our overnight packs tomorrow morning and drive to SLC then finish the drive to the Tetons Sunday.

Saturday, May 16th:
Cache Retrieval + Conundrum Couloir + Drive to Salt Lake City, Utah

Moving light and fast, we got up to the basin lickity-split-quick (Even faster than Jimmy-Johns-Fast!!! haha) and were the 2nd ones to top out anything even though we were some of the last folks to arrive (slept through our alarms, oops).
Before heading back we decided to give Conundrum Couloir another lap as it was clearer out and it might corn up. We were right and enjoyed some very good skiing down a very smooth couloir, before calling it an early day and skiing back to the cars. We started around 6:30am and were done before 11:00am, now that's what I'm talking about!
We both got in our cars, and after a stop at City Market for some TruMoo Chocolate milk (If you know, you know), were on our way to SLC, where we enjoyed some nice steaks and beers at Pat's house before calling it a night.

Sunday, May 17th:
Salt Lake City Rest Day / Re-Fit + Drive to Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming

After sleeping in and even taking a midday nap, we left for the Tetons around noon. Before we departed, Pat introduced me to "Pretty Bird" which is a chicken sandwich spot in SLC, and holy moly, its GOOD! I got two sandwiches (pretty good size too!) and couldn't help myself... I ate both in one sitting! If you're in SLC, check them out, seriously!
Soon we were driving through Idaho and I was blown away by the beauty. This was a new area that I had never seen and it was so beautiful. Mountains on the right, hills on the left, and some of the greenest valley I've ever seen in the middle. I drove up through Pocatello and Idaho Falls, Idaho before turning East and heading up and over Teton Pass. This was also the first time I had seen Teton Pass, and I now see why people ski it so often! Its like Berthoud pass on steroids!
Anthony and Nick were hours behind us and so I took the time to go into the park and take a few recon photos of the Otter Body descent on the Grand. Our plan was to do the Ford-Stettner ascent and descent, but I was quietly pushing to descend the Otter Body in hopes of avoiding crowding in the Ford-Stettner couloirs.
Pat and I found an awesome drive in camping area across the valley from the Tetons (amazing view!!!) and we promptly went to sleep, knowing that we would have an early morning (2:00 am start).

Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming:
Days 9 - 11 (May 17th - 19th)

Monday, May 18th:
Grand Teton Attempt/Bail + Middle Teton East Face


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What a magical place!!!


We met Anthony and Nick in a parking lot around 2:45 am and donned our equipment onto our bikes, in prep for an approach-by-bike day. Soon we were at the Lupine Meadows TH and began quickly eating up the intermittent dry ground and snow patches.
Soon we were in the gut of Garnet Canyon, with the Middle Teton looming straight ahead, and the Grand still somewhat obscured. We skinned up a skinnable slope to the lookers right and it was here that we realized the overnight freeze was basically non-existent. We decided against risking the Grand in such conditions and all agreed that the Middle Teton would be a worthy Consolation prize.
We headed up the Middle Teton Glacier and were soon boot packing up its ever increasingly steep East face. The pitch continued to increase to the tippy top, where I measured slightly above 55 degrees, yeehaw!!! As we got higher up, the wind was definitely whipping, and it actually kept the upper face frozen, if only the top couple inches. We huddled up on the summit for a few moments to eat some food and then it was time to skidaddle!


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Pat, with the Middle Teton dominating the view!


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Antony leading the way up the East Face with Pat and Nick right on his tail.


I was the only one dumb enough to want to ski the upper portion, so the others down climbed to a spot where the pitch wasn't so severe. I waited for them to get to some more mellow terrain before dropping in and taking some conservative turns down to them. The snow was definitely firm, but skiable, and I took one hop turn a little too fast and almost got bucked by my uphill ski! I legitimately tossed me up and off the slope for a second and I landed a few feet lower and was able to get under control. Just another reason to never let your guard down!
We all regrouped and took turns skiing some firm crappy snow up top, into a pocket of recycled powder, and lastly, down some soft, but not too soft, snow that was actually enjoyable!
From the glacier down into the canyon, it was almost necessary to straight line downhill because of how sticky the snow was getting, the temps were definitely not on our side!
We got back to our shoes and began the seemingly-longer-than-it-had-been-in-the-morning walk out on the trails. Postholing in intermittent snow patches was definitely a highlight of the day.... Along with seeing a guy hiking up in sandals also postholing.... After a quick bike ride back, we all headed into town for our own individual food treats and regrouped at the camp site area Pat and I had found the night before.


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Pat ripping it up on some sub-par snow!


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Greeted with some beautiful views on the way back!


We decided that with temps looking sub-par, that the tetons would not grant us much fun skiing, so we looked elsewhere. The bighorns and beartooth's in Montana came up, but we eventually decided on heading far West to the Cascades. This would be my first time volcano skiing on the west coast and I was pretty stoked! We decided to do a run in the AM before getting most of the drive out of the way and then finishing it off the following day to Bend, Oregon.

Tuesday, May 19th:
Two Ocean Lake / Emma Matilda Lake Trail Run + Drive to Bend, Oregon

We all enjoyed a lazy morning and slowly made our way to go do a nice loop of about 12 miles around Two Ocean Lake and Emma Matilda Lake. I tried to keep up with the 3 other aerobic machines, but settled into my own pace and had a nice time as the caboose of this send train!
After our little run, we got in our cars and headed out west, towards the land of volcanos!
We all were on different driving schedules and ended up spreading out a bit, but Nick and I ended up pulling over in a random town and car camping on some random road, only about a 5hr drive for tomorrow!

Bend, Oregon:
Days 12 - 17 (May 20th - 25th)

Wednesday, May 20th:
Drive to Bend, Oregon + Paulina Peak Recon / Sight Seeing

I woke up to Nick already being gone, I guess it's not as comfortable to sleep in a small car as a 6+ foot individual haha
We all finished out the drive to Bend and I decided to go investigate tomorrow's objective: Paulina Peak.
Paulina peak is barely a peak, but since weather wasn't looking great, we decided it was a good easy one to at least get some skiing on.
I rode my bike up the closed road (closed to cars) to see how high snowline was and then checked out Paulina and East lakes and Paulina Falls, not bad Oregon, not bad!
We all met in a parking lot near Paulina Falls and promptly went to sleep, its funny how the act of sitting for hours can make you tired...


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Paulina Falls


Thursday, May 21st:
Paulina Peak Northeast Bowl + Northwest Bowl

A relatively lazy start had us walking up the closed road as weather began to move in on us. It snowed a little as we quickly gained elevation, running into a group of 2 that were already heading down and were descending the intermittently covered road.
We were soon to the "summit" as the weather began to subside. We made sure to execute some flawless moves to ensure we topped out on the tippy top... haha
We decided to ski the Northeast facing bowl first, since it looked very straight forward and enjoyable.


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Northeast Bowl and our short but fun descent from the summit. The Northwest chutes are wrapped around to the right


We skied a few hundred feet before the skiing appeared to lose its value, and quickly skinned back up to the ridge, where we traversed over to the ridge line above the Northwest chutes. There were plenty of options, but one in particular was visibly continuous and looked pretty smooth compared to the others. We all dropped in and enjoyed some really fun turns down a thousand feet or so before deciding that it was worth another lap. Heading back up, Pat and I eye-balled a little 10' drop, but we later decided against it. Anthony and Nick dropped in on separate couloirs that converged, and Pat and I followed suit, ripping really fun and soft turns all the way to tree line


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Pat, with our couloir of choice down below with Paulina Lake in the background.


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Pat skiing down the coulior.


We decided to call it a day since the conditions weren't going to get any better, and headed back towards the road, intending to contour the slopes and meet back up with the road. A little bushwhacking later and we popped onto the trail that brought us swiftly down to the road, home free! We all decided to share a motel for the night and headed back into Bend, OR for Pat and I's first night in a bed in a week or so and the first shower in a similar timeframe haha We had a decent drive in the AM so we all went to sleep early, excited to head over to the "Sisters" group the next day.

Friday, May 22nd:
Middle Sister North Ridge

We left Pat's and Nick's vehicles at the Motel and drove the ~1.5 hours to the trail head for Middle and North Sister. The trail was dry for ~4 miles, allowing quick progress (I had to take care of a #2 emergency, so I had to run to catch up to those speed demons!).Soon we were on open slopes below the Middle and North Sisters, and of course, weather started to come in. Wind picked up and visibility diminished significantly. We decided to ski down a few hundred feet from just below the Saddle between Middle and North in order to give the weather some time to dissipate.


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Broken Top's West Face as seen from Middle sister.


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Pat, Anthony, and Nick on the initial approach to Middle sister, as we discuss the worsening weather.


The plan worked and we re-ascended, gained the ridge, and decided that the new snow made our intended goal (Diller Headwall) to risky. There was actually a huge crown from an avalanche that had run the whole headwall, so there was likely no good snow anyways. We summited and descended the North ridge, trying to find pockets of fun snow in between rime-feathered pockets. We cruised down as far as we could before switching back to sneakers and cruising the dry trail back. We bid Anthony farewell, as he was going up to Seattle to hang out with a lady-friend, and headed back to town to get ourselves some delicious Chipotle! We made plans with Nick to go for the South Sister and Broken Top the next day and headed towards Mt. Bachelor to sleep at the trail head to allow us to get some extra ZZZZZs.

Saturday, May 23rd:
South Sister South Face + Broken Top West Face

We parked at the bend in the road, where the ski trail starts, and soon Nick and I both had #2 emergencies we had to take care of. After taking care of business, we scurried up a slope, hoping to catch up to Pat. Our route actually delayed us even further, and even though we were in sneakers on fully supportive frozen snow, we wouldn't catch up to Pat until the summit. Skinning up the rim of South Sister was super aesthetic as it appears to be just a giant bowl, super cool terrain features on volcanoes! Someone had slept near the summit, would be an awesome view to wake up to for sure!
We arrived to the summit and all decided to ski the South face, which would spit us out in between South Sister and Broken Top. We enjoyed some really fun open face turns and ripped all the way down to a frozen lake before transitioning.


20161_33
South Sister's South Face


20161_35
Somebody's tent on the plateau just below the summit of South sister, with Mt. Bachelor in the background.


20161_36
Nick skiing down a nice and smooth face on the south face.


We had a quick bite to eat at the frozen lake and soon were heading up towards Broken Top in the heat of the day. As we got to the base of it's upper slopes, we decided to ski a couloir on the lookers right major terrain feature, rather than the lookers left terrain feature, which I guess is the summit. Being a little fatigued, we kept plodding along and finally topped out the couloir, where Nick and I went on little exploration climbs to see if the summit was easily attainable. We both decided against our routes and descended back to the couloir where pat was waiting.


20161_37
Nick and Pat looking onward to Broken Top as they cross the frozen lake.


The skiing down the couloir was chunky but not bad at all, just ski aggressive and you won't get "man-handled"! I decided to check out a different little connecting couloir down to the open slopes below, since I had seen a little terrain feature that might be a fun little kicker that I wanted to scope out. I decided against it and we all took turns ripping some really fun turns down the open slope below! we aimed our skis down into the drainage that would lead to a different parking lot and all went our own speeds on the exit.


20161_38
Pat ripping down the couloir, with Nick above.


20161_39
Nick getting his turns in on the couloir


20161_40
Pat, ripping down next to my tracks.


Pat was the first to the road and walked right by me as I yelled "Hooty-hoo" to him... but he didn't even notice/hear me haha I thought he was ignoring me haha I caught up to Pat on the road and then so did Nick and we all got to our cars and headed back into town. We got some grub and hung out at the Farewell Bend Park as we discussed the plan for tomorrow, my last day before heading back to CO. We decided that Mt Jefferson would be a very worthy final descent for my trip and Pat and I headed up towards the trail head, making camp at a turn off ~30 minutes from the trail head.

Sunday, May 24th:
Mt. Washington East Face + West Face + Drive to Denver, Colorado

Pat loaded into my car in the AM and we headed towards Nick at the Jefferson trail head, only to be thwarted... There was an accident over night that had a fatality and they were recovering the vehicle and doing an investigation, so we were not allowed to go any further. We tried to text Nick and decided to salvage the day: why not go ski Mt Washington Instead?


20161_41
Mt Washington, as seen from the East.


Pat got back in his vehicle and we both headed toward a trail head that would start us on the Pacific Crest Trail and then we would branch off and head up towards Mt Washington. We enjoyed some very beautiful trail miles (Would love to run some of the PCT trail sections someday!) and soon were following some old skin tracks and were on the North ridge of Mt Washington. We had a rough plan of trying to ski every aspect of Mt Washington since it is a smaller volcano, and that would make up for not being able to ski on Jefferson. As we ascended the boot pack up the ridge, we noticed that there wasn't any freeze (Kind of the trend of this trip) which was weird since there had been a pretty solid freeze down lower (Possible temperature inversion). We decided to drop onto the East face a little below the top of the ridge and found some very heavy conditions... We only made 3-4 turns before traversing back to the ridge since it wasn't worth skiing lower. These conditions pretty much killed our hopes of circumnavigating the volcano, oh well!


20161_45
Three finger Jack (L) and Mt Jefferson from Mt Washington. Freaking gorgeous and rugged!

20161_43
Pat making turns down the super heavy snow on the East face. Mt Jefferson and Three Finger Jack in the background.

We quickly reascended the ridge, passed where we just dropped in, and were soon to the top of the ridge where the skiable terrain appeared to stop. There was a bunch of rime on the rocky summit block that was heating up and falling, "wouldn't wanna be climbing on that right now and get nailed in the head" I thought. We decided that the crappy conditions weren't really worth any more work and so we decided to drop onto the firmer West face and just get back to the cars as quick as possible. The skiing was firmer and faster, and soon we had traversed back onto the lower ridge, where we followed the skin track back and made quick work of the dry trail out.

20161_42
Pat, approaching the top of the ridge where the skiing ends and the climbing would begin. The West face is on the right.


Pat and I drove back into town and got Chipotle (AGAIN!!) and relaxed across the river from the Farewell Bend Park, at Riverbend Park. It was a beautiful sunny day and we relaxed with a few beers and enjoyed some good conversation before I decided it was time to put some miles behind me on the long drive home. Pat and I said our farewells and he headed up to Mt Hood area to see a lady friend as I drove East. I got 10 hours of driving in surprisingly and ended up sleeping at a rest stop in Salt Lake City. Sometimes driving for hours on end, I'll go through periods of singing my heart out to wildly differing genres (Pop goes punk, electronicore, pop, etc), periods of listening to podcasts, and the weirdest, periods of sitting in silence and saying super goofy things to myself. Either way, those 10 hrs were very enjoyable for some reason!

Monday, May 25th:
Drive to Denver, Colorado

I finished off the remaining 8 hours of driving the next morning and got home in the mid afternoon with just enough time to get ready for work the next day. 17 days of doing what you want, when you want, and with who you want, really makes going back to the work grind unappealing... Gotta figure out how to make a decent living without having to have a well-paying corporate job... Well, those are future Matt problems, present Matt was quite content with the past 17 days and fell into a solid night of sleep in his own bed with contentment in his heart.


Thanks for reading! If anyone has any questions for beta or such, feel free to reach me via email @ matthew.j.randall13@gmail.com or instagram @mattrandall9




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

Insane
07/02/2020 20:10
Hell of a report great job


hogantheepic

Fucking gnar
07/02/2020 21:44
That snow on North Maroon looked pretty icy. You gave me inspiration to do it someday though. Thanks man!


SchralpTheGnar

Yes!!
07/04/2020 16:58
Nice work, classic lines, maybe the record for most descents of Castle in 48 hour period.

If you can work a job and get a 17 day vacation like that you might not need to augment your future plans. ðŸ˂


mattr9

Responses
07/06/2020 06:08
CaptCO: Thanks man, keep crushing this summer!

Hogantheepic: It was pretty firm for sure, would be awesome to hit it in really good conditions one day. It's the most inspirational line in CO for me personally!

SchralpTheGnar: Definitely got some good time on Castle this year haha And I'm fortunate to have that job currently but I don't see myself sitting at a desk the rest of my life to make a living...


TakeMeToYourSummit

Odd...
07/06/2020 10:11
...that the series of murders in my backyard didn't make national headlines! Awesome job on all the lines in the Elks & killing it in other areas as well!


Anthbmarra
TruMoo
07/07/2020 12:04
Hell of a trip man. One day weâll nail some good conditions, preferably in Pakistan

A good life you lead.


mattr9

TakeMeToYourSummit
07/08/2020 05:26
Was hoping to get Capitol this season, but it wasn't looking good... Would have been a killing spree


mattr9

Crab Crew
07/08/2020 05:27
I think Pakistan is known for having smooth, velvety corn at all elevations... or at least that's what I'm telling myself haha
CANNOT wait to be in SLC this Winter and be a ski bum! So freaking excited man!



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