Peak(s):  Mt. Evans  -  14,264 feet
Date Posted:  06/21/2009
Modified:  06/22/2009
Date Climbed:   06/20/2009
Author:  NPG
 Mount Evans (north face ski descent)   

Yesterday, I joined my buddy JJ for the easiest descent possible down a Colorado 14er. With Mount Evans Highway open all the way to the top, we effectively exited our car (complete with chauffeur) and were a short 507-foot-long walk from the 14,264' summit. I've had some great days with JJ, notably an unseasonal slaying of No Name Peak near Berthoud Pass in mid-January as well as one of the sickest powder days of the year at Monarch Mountain where a modest ten-inch report of new snow surprisingly turned into over two feet of awesomeness. With the good comes the bad, and those perfect backcountry days wouldn't be as appreciative if not for those long treks out into the unexpected where you return home without victory; such was the case experienced on our mid-March trip to James Peak.

Knowing the overnight freeze at the top of Mount Evans would be minimal and with the desire to photograph nature's alarm clock, we appropriately left the Denver area around five in the morning and ultimately reached the summit shortly after 7am with some minor delays. What we didn't know was that an incredibly dense fog (or low-lying clouds) would inhabit the top portion of the mountain. Additionally, winds were gusting close to 30mph, but it was the complete lack of visibility that caused me to be separated from JJ for close to 45 minutes before finding each other with just enough time to spare for a safe and enjoyable descent down a couloir off the north face. To note, my pack always has a whistle attached to it but I was using a new one yesterday and forgot to make the transfer. We were also using beacons (but I traversed too far along the ridge to receive a transmission) and radios (I kept one while the other was left for the 3rd person in our group who wasn't skiing).

USAKeller's trip report posted here offers a better view of what we skied given the weather conditions for us to be very sub par. To view all the pictures posted below plus a few additional ones in larger size, please click here.

After being reunited, we quickly strapped into our skis and began our descent. The top hundred feet of the couloir was barely six feet wide which led us to sidestep down before entering the larger section where I'm seen here:

A few turns later, I eventually disappear into an abyss:

Along the way, there was no shortage of rocks to dodge as JJ shows here:

As alluded to, battling the clouds would be an issue with visibility less than fifty feet at times:

Pretty soon, the terrain opened up, and with less convection from rocks, the snow transformed from considerably slushy in the upper section to a more sustainable just-past-prime corn:

We effectively skied down near Summit Lake with a short downclimb of some twenty feet in the middle of the lower section:

JJ crossing Bear Creek:

Our route down is seen in the picture below on the far left side where a "T" formation is made:

Birmy also joined us on this trip for his first time on snow (don't worry - he stayed at Summit Lake while we skied):

Skiing close to 1,400 feet of continuous snow the day before summer officially begins with not much effort at all is never be a bad thing:

Comments or Questions

North Face Couloir
06/22/2009 13:55
Nice to see there‘s still a lot of snow up there. Great job! BTW, that couloir isn‘t the ”Snave.” The Snave is further to the lookers right and splits the main and eastern summits. The top 200‘ is full of boulders that don‘t hold snow.

Looks like the sunrise (west) gully still has lots of snow, too. Awesome.

Thanks ...
06/22/2009 14:46
for the clarification Bill. One of my friends skied Sunrise Couloir on Saturday as well and said the snow was pretty good on the sides and very chunky right in the middle. Said it would be worth checking out.


nice job guys!
06/22/2009 16:57
Evans has been in for awhile this year. It‘s got a lot of great-looking lines - glad you were able to get one of them! Anything else on the radar this year?

Nothing planned ...
06/22/2009 17:16
I was thinking the east face of Democrat although I‘m not sure it will last until the weekend. Might check out some of the peaks in the southern part of the Never Summer Range since they generally hold decent snow late in the year.

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