This time last year I embarked on a wonderful ski mission- heading to the Pacific Northwest to ski Shasta, Mount Hood, Adams, and Mount St. Helens. It was one of the most memorable of ski trips for me and only made me crave more. So, this year, I was able to rally my friend Pam to join me for another PNW adventure. I will be meeting her soon to ski Lassen Peak, then hopefully on to Shasta and other volcanoes north of there.
Some of the PNW volcanoes are covered in glaciers to varying degrees. Although I am not sure of the exact routes or even exactly which peaks we will find ourselves on the top of, it’s best to be prepared for all kinds of travel. Traveling across glaciers requires a certain set of skills that we don’t have much opportunity to practice here in Colorado. So, I prepared the best way that I could- I read books. My favorite one is this:
Practicing self-arresting is always good. But when you know you could be responsible to hold a crevasse fall of an entire rope line, it is essential. So, Frank and I refreshed our skills by watching this video:
And then we headed out to practice for real after work one day:
It had been 10 days since I last skied, which was entirely too long considering that the skiing in Colorado was holding up fairly well. Life had gotten in the way. End of the school year wrap-up, combined with a change of tenants in our Front Range rental and an impending bachelorette party – all things that got in the way of skiing.
Knowing that I was leaving for a good volcano tour in California and Oregon, and possibly Washington, is was got me through this non-skiing streak. But, still, I was itching for another ski. I was scheduled to leave Monday for a day to visit my friends in Salt Lake City, but decided that there was time to squeeze a short ski in before my 8 hour drive. My friend Jenny was easily persuaded to join. So, to Baldy we went, to enjoy some turns on summer snow.
Jenny, ready to hike up the south side of Baldy. We stayed in our hiking shoes all the way to the top!
Originally, I was hoping to ski the south side as it looked good in views from town. But, up close, the lower half of the south side was deviod of snow, as you can see in the picture above. Instead, we decided to rally for the more snow-covered east face.
Congrats to my dear friend Sonya Bugbee who will be getting married at the end of this month. This weekend, she chose to celebrate with a bachelorette party here in Crested Butte. Sonya’s bachelorette party was rounded out with many of her mountain bike racing cronies from both here and all over the state, as well as her two sisters. Of course she chose to ride her bike as part of the celebration, so I took the weekend off from skiing to join Sonya and the gang. However, we would not let her go undecorated. Sonya was topped with a veil that’s only fit for the best of bachelorettes Here’s some photos from the biking day.
For the second weekend in a row, I found myself on the front range. Not wanting to waste a potential ski day on the way home, I looked into a few ski options and eventually chose Mount Edwards. Several recent reports showed the North Face holding good snow, and with all the time I’ve spent staring at this face on my way up Stevens Gulch on climbs of Grays and Torreys, this one became a no-brainer. As it played out, it was a good call- the stepp face was fun and interesting, and most importantly the snow was in stellar shape for June- perfect, smooth corn snow. The face:
Best of all, the approach was short and I found myself booting up the face in no time.
The summit was pretty interesting. Situated between Grays and Torreys, as well as Evans and Bierstadt to the East, it was pretty apparent just how close those two groups of fourteeners are. It would be pretty cool to ridge run all the way from Guanella Pass to Loveland pass, catching Square Top, Edwards, Grays, Torreys, and Grizzly.
Almost every Memorial Day weekend, Brittany and I try to get out of town to ski some peaks. Even last year, as dry as it was, we had one of the best days of the year near Silverton. In fact, the first weekend we ever skied together was a Memorial Day weekend, so we got up early on Monday and headed to the upper Arkansas valley to ski Mount Hope, a high centennial thirteener near La Plata. The hopeful couloir is an obvious line when heading South from Leadville- in fact I’ve often mistaken it for La Plata, so it’s been on my list for quite some time.
The climb starts out on the Continental Divide trail from the sheep gulch trailhead (and you may see some old Colorado Trail signs as well, though it has been re-routed). The trail is steep but efficient, and we found ourselves at Hope Pass in no time.
From there, I chose the East ridge, while Brittany climbed the snow-covered SE face. Either way, the summit of Hope is an easy and fun one to attain. The Hopeful is somewhat visible in the first photo.
Most mountains have one, maybe two, good faces for skiing. It’s a rare mountain indeed that has quality routes in all four cardinal directions. While we’ve skied the West, South (spoon), and East faces of Gothic quite a few times, we hadn’t ventured onto the attractive North facing bowls until the last weekend of May. Count Gothic as one of those rare peaks that can indeed be skied in every direction.
We started the day off by hiking up 403, a trail that will probably be rideable a month from now. Jenny:
Here I am skinning up towards the North bowl. This bowl actually drops off a subpeak of Gothic.
Gothic road had finally opened and we were eager to get into the area to ski some of the glorious peaks that hover north of the town. But, the weather forecasts were a mixed bag for the weekend. Putting hopes aside for some bigger, steeper lines, we decided to go for something hopefully manageable- White Rock. Still a tall peak in the Crested Butte area, White Rock is still remote, but fairly accessible when Gothic Road is open.
All was good until we reached the first crossing at Copper Creek. It was cold, and not easily crossable, so we decided to continue along the left bank until we found a snow bridge. Little did we know that the snow bridge was much farther away this season, and would not come for at least a couple of miles – with much bushwhacking, willow bashing, and snow crashing along the way. Jenny.
Eventually, we found a snowbridge across one of the veins of the Copper Creek, but still came head to head with a major crossing. We tried throwing tree branches and rocks into the creek to build up some sort of bridge, to no avail. I finally gave in and went for it- Bare feet in the icy cold water always makes for an interesting sensation which I find somewhat refreshing. Frank, Jenny, and Pete eventually followed my lead. As I told Frank to smile for the photo, he put his head down shrieking in pain from the cold.
As we emerged from the creek, we found these mountain lion tracks in the snow.
Even though it was later than we wanted, we still had high hopes. We rose out of the valley and began skinning up the White Rock basin. Note the blue sky…..
Well, the weather feels like summer, and for most people, thoughts have turned to summer sports. I’m not sure that either Brittany or I are ready for summer, but it sure seems to be here (although the skiing has remained excellent). Last summer, I embarked on a goal to ride every single last bit of legally rideable Colorado Trail. I did pretty well- only 25 miles remain, and the longest of those segments is only 8.4 miles. Most of the mileage I have left is in the form of small sections- like this one, which is only 1.8 miles from the trailhead to the Wilderness boundary. I had planned to ride this segment in conjunction with Segment 11, but my partner that day was running late for a previous engagement, so I had to skip this tiny section. Since Brittany and I were already skiing Mount Hope (trip report coming soon), and the trailhead for Hope is just up the road for this segment, I decided to knock this section off.
Let’s face it. Some peaks live up to their name. Others do not. Precarious Peak is one of those that happens to be very aptly named.
I had been eying this peak for a few years, but didn’t actually seriously consider it until this season. Suddenly, it became a real goal- a must-do. And so we did it.
We began in the early morning hours, parking at the closed gate about 1/4 of a mile past the now-defunct Avery Picnic area. We began hiking on an unofficial trail that leads from there to Rustler’s Gulch.
We found good firm snow to travel upon through most of Rustler’s Gulch.
Precarious on the left, Cassi in the middle, Goldentops on the right.
Mike Records sent in this guest TR from his time in Alaska this spring. This is an amazing journey, filled with bucket list items like seeing the northern lights and driving the AlCan, and we’re proud to share it with our readers. Thanks for sending it in, Mike, and remember, we’re always open to submissions, gear review requests, and more here at 14erskiers.com. You can visit Mike’s website here: mikerecords.com