Peak(s):  Audubon, Mt  -  13,223 feet
Paiute Pk  -  13,088 feet
Date Posted:  11/07/2010
Date Climbed:   11/06/2010
Author:  lordhelmut
 Audobon-Paiute Combo  

Peaks - Audobon (13,223), Paiute (13,089)
Drainage - Mitchell Lake/Blue Lake
RT/Vertical - 13 miles (from road closure), approximately 3600 ft
Crew - Myself, Kevin (papillon), Sarah (wooderson), Kevin (kevink)

Although a documented route, this is mainly for conditions purposes, as well as the right way to conduct a post-climb meal.

While celebrating my friend Matt's birthday (del_sur) at the fine establishment of the Falling Rock Taphouse Tuesday night, Kevin (papillon) and I contemplated some options for the weekend, ending with an IPW combo of Audobon-Paiute. You'd think celebrating a birthday midweek would slow someone down, but not when you put 10 mountain crazies at a table in the middle of a taphouse with over 80 beers to choose from. Conversations ranged from mountain goals to Jackson Hole vs. Snowbird steepness arguments with Vince (rockymtn69), to the filming locations of Aspen Extreme to the hopiest beer on the menu. Vince also got a pretty good kick out of the ABV of Pliny the Elder, as well as stories of people climbing Pyramid thinking its Maroon.

Fastfoward to Friday night, Kevin and Sarah let me crash on their couch after some last minute snacks, including a roast beef and provolone from Jimmy Johns. After a few Modus and some route research, we hit the sack in hopes of a short(er) day. Alarm goes off at 5am, KevinK arrives around 6am and we head through Boulder to Brainerd Lake TH by 7:30am. Unfortunately, the road was closed at the fee area due to construction so we immediately have to recalculate our timeframe for the day. We hike the extra 3 miles to Mitchell Lake TH and are on the hard pack trail finally.

condition of road (not tht it matters now)

IPW from Brainard Lake

SE Ridge route

It was getting pretty warm, so after a de-layer, we eventually reach the lake and try to find a nice spot to leave the trail and make our way for the SE Ridge of Audobon. Around the west end of the lake, we began to head directly north, trying to keep post-holing to a minimum (we left the snowshoes in the car).

ramp we used from Mitchell Lake

The slope to reach the ridge was mellow for the most part. The upper sections provided some obstacles to overcome, but we were able to break trail through the thin snow in the willows, up some snow to the ridge proper.

Looking back at Mitchell Lake from SE Ridge

Aaron Johnson's SP page describes a class 3 prominent notch to contend with on this route and since the ridge was longer than expected, we were all wondering where it was. KevinK got ahead of the group at one point and we hear an obvious "woa" up ahead. We catch up and see what he was talking about - an overhanging notch with a not so obvious downclimb. We eventually found a route down and to the right with some exciting exposure to boot.

Papillon traversing across the notch

looking back on the SE ridge route

After the notch, there was one more class 3 section involving a sporty move or two then just open class 2 tundra to the summit.

RMNP conditions

Southern IPW conditions

ridge to Paiute

Wind picked up a bit on the summit so we grabbed some grub and were quickly en route to Paiute via its East Ridge. The ridge is just class 2 scrambling pretty much the entire way, sans a section or two after the saddle on the ascent to Paiute. Some shots of the traverse.....

looking back on the ridge

KevinK on the ridge

Traversing the snow section

Snow wasn't much of an issue along the traverse, one sporty section of snow which was in its beginning stages of cornicing and then immediately followed by a short class 3 move around a small tower. Took around a hour to complete the entire 0.85 mile traverse.

Pawnee Traverse

Paiute's summit

The descent, up to this point, was still up in the air. We couldn't really see the gullies from the summit of Paiute that ran off the ridge to Toll. Kevin and Sarah were contemplating heading back on the traverse over Audobon and down the standard class 1 route. I elected to head down the SE ridge to see what the deal was. I rounded a ridge and found a nice, mellow gully that was filled with deep snow. Thanks to some nice glissade ops, we were down in no time.

It was obviously later in the day than we had expected, but thanks to some mindbending views of Mt.Toll to the South and a sublime sunset, along with minimal postholing, the descent was a great success.

Kevin glissading

more glissading with Toll's N.Face as a backdrop - not bad

Kevin and Sarah w/ descent route in background

Toll from Blue Lake

2 dudes and a chick

Image #25 (not yet uploaded)

Kind of strange how Mitchell Lake was lower, yet completely frozen and Blue Lake was not and higher in elevation. Impressive sight nonetheless.

We had trouble finding the trail from Blue to Mitchell lake, but were able to follow a faint skin track and eventually ran right in to it, just west of Mitchell. From there it was simply putting on foot in front of the other, with a cold modus waiting in the car for inspiration.

Back at the car, we ate some chips, slugged an IPA and made way for Southern Sun in Boulder. Here's what ensued....

My meal

Kevin's meal

Pappy's meal

All washed down with some FYIPA. F**k Yeah.

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 20 21 22 23 24

 Comments or Questions
11/08/2010 09:18
great trip report and great pics. weird that mitchell is frozen and blue isnt. haven't done audobon via the SE Ridge yet. looks much more fun than the standard route.


nice report
11/08/2010 13:05
I was curious if Brainard was open past the fee area, thanks for info. Southern Sun...nice! Now I'm hungry!

InsPirAtion... I like it!
11/08/2010 13:11
Thanks for the good beta, the pics and an enjoyable read! How did the couloirs to the north and south of the notch look?

Brian C

MMM....Southern Sun....
11/08/2010 13:14
After visiting the Mountain Sun exclusively for years, I discovered the wonders of the Southern Sun a couple of months ago. Definitely the right way to have a post-hike-meal!

I did the same route in reverse a few Novembers ago. Looks like the glissade was much more fun than trudging down Audubon. Thanks for the conditions. Nice report.


11/08/2010 15:31
So is it just me, or would that trip have been better with a ski descent of Paiute??? 8)

Well done all, looked like a great day!!!!


Very cool Brian!
11/08/2010 16:01
Awesome TR and photos too. It would still be nice to get out this winter too!!


Thanks all
11/08/2010 16:14
holttd - I couldn't figure out why Blue wasn't frozen, maybe cause of the depth and size, not to mention some still flowing waterfalls on the west end. When walking along the shores, that thing gets deep quick.

shaunster - it looked like they closed it during last week for construction in the region. Regardless, there were a lot of icy spots, so game over. Makes the experience that much better, IMO.

misirlija - thanks!

beachrodney - The couloir on the north side of the notch was filled in nicely, the southern one more spotty.

Brian C - southern sun for a post climb meal when passing through Boulder is standard protocol, as well as DP Dough. And yes, that glissade saved us a lot of time and heartache

Rick - Hey bud, if you saw how far we would've had to haul those planks back there, you'd definately think twice. On the other hand, the amount of BC lines in that Mitchell Lake drainage is absurd, specially some of the northern aspects of the Pawnees. By the way, Toll has all of a sudden worked its way up to priority #1 come spring. That SE Face looks ridiculous.

Caroline - its been a while, I'd like to get out if we can work something out and get some turns in at Berthoud or something as well. Thanks for the comments.


Nice Trip Report Brian.
11/08/2010 17:13
There are so many great peaks back there, I need to get back soon. Here's to hoping we can get a climb or two in before you start putting the skis on. By the way, have you tried the Ska Euphoria yet?


Big climb = big meal
11/08/2010 17:26
Terri - Toll's north side rivals any face in the state. The group dynamic meshed well, good to be on the same page.

Scott - Euphoria is probably my 4th or 5th ”go to” choice, behind Modus, Dale's, Gordon's and Avery. I'm down for another outing when we can work something out.


That feast was biblical...
11/08/2010 20:01
Not a bad way to spend 11 hours on earth. A wise climber on this site once told me the best climbing plans are often hammered out in a pub. I couldn't agree more. We should strike while the iron is hot next weekend. Good stuff, Brian, and thanks for reconnoitering the descent off Paiute.

You Had Me at MODUS! Simply the finest!
11/08/2010 20:43
Except they are brewing Euphoria right now for the winter.......cant pick a fav.

Nice report too.


longer than expected...
11/08/2010 20:49
What a day. Couldn't have asked for better weather, company or post-hike libations. And while it was definitely longer than expected, hiking out under the stars just makes it even more memorable.

Thanks for putting the report together, Brian. The only thing I'm wondering is why my veggie burger didn't make it into the feast gallery... I guess it doesn't score high enough on the gluttony index, but it was good, damn it!


Oak aged
11/08/2010 23:59
Matt - does this oak aged pale ale give you dementia? Just picked up a weeks supply of Dugana at City Liquors in Breck. They, too, hide their Pliny in a secret fridge and require you ask if they have it in stock.

Pap and Sarah - I'm open to suggestions. Sarah, the southern sun sign is blocking your burger, but yes, it did not make the cut on the gluttony meter.

Chicago Transplant

Good times
11/09/2010 17:53
Looks like some great fall conditions, and it sounds like the birthday party was a good time. Happy late BD to Matt. And is that a beard I see on Kevin? Man, don't see someone for a few months and they turn into Grizzly Adams


That was fun
11/10/2010 05:46
It was good to get out with you all again before ski season starts. Excellent mountains, partners, weather and Southern Sun always make for a great time. Might have to try another in the next couple weeks if we can pick another day like that.

Matt - Happy birthday again. Sorry you couldn't make it

Mike - Yes, I'm looking pretty grizzly right now


Longer ridge than we expected ....
11/10/2010 18:06
Ain't that the truth with Audobon (no matter what ridge route you pick ... trust me). Looks like a great time was had by all (and what a delightful group of people if I do say so myself). Toll is such a beautiful peak. Love the food shots (and the beer references). Take care and hoppy trails!


11/12/2010 07:13
FYIPA is GOOD. This TR makes me thirsty but it's time for bed and now I'll have to wait 18 hours for a Euphoria. Rats.

Good read as always, nice trip.


11/13/2010 18:20
I'll take the burgers and fries. Looks great.

Philosophical question: Is it the food and beer that fuel the climbing, or is it the climbing that fuels the food and beer?

Great report, enjoyed it. Sarah and Kevin, good to see you guys getting out a lot lately!


Great report!
01/05/2011 17:27
IPW looks great at this time of year. Nice report.


Ten mountain crazies at one table
01/19/2011 03:38
And look what you get. Nice work, you all. Seeing those conditions, I really wish I'd joined you, but the IPW's not going anywhere.

Scot, did you know Ska made a batch of oak-aged Euphoria called Dementia? Apparently, not a single bottle made it out of Durango. Go figure.


04/18/2014 19:27
Looks good I'm getting hungry!

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