TBT 14er TR: Missouri Mountain Ski (24 May 2008)

This is part of an ongoing series re-telling Brittany’s fourteener-skiing story. Look for the reports every Thursday, as part of a Throwback Thursday theme.

Frank was now finished with his fourteener-skiing project, but I still had 15 of them left to ski. While Frank knew he’d ski some of them with me still, I also knew I’d be doing quite a few more of them without him, beginning with Missouri Mountain.

As it turned out, I would ski six more fourteeners that season, and only one of them with Frank. I’d met Frank because I wanted to ski all the fourteeners and was looking for partners to help me achieve my goal. But, now I felt like I’d lost him as a partner.

Below is a slightly modified version of my report for skiing Missouri Mountain, which would become my 40th fourteener skied.

No, I didn’t turn 40 yrs old. I still have a number of years before that happens. But, I did complete my 40th ski descent of a fourteener when I skied Missouri Mountain yesterday.

My friend, Mark Cavalierio, agreed to join me on this outing. Mark is a great ski partner, a good friend, and I always appreciate his company. He’s joined me now on four different fourteeners, and I hope there will be more.

We camped the previous night in one of the plentiful camping spots along the road to Vicksburg. Knowing that the weather was going to remain cool and largely cloudy throughout the day, we knew a really early start was not essential. We began from the Missouri Gulch trailhead at 5:45 am.

For the first 1000′ feet or so, the trail was about 50% snow and 50% dirt. We did skin up the majority of it, but our skins most likely suffered the consequences. Skinning through this bit was difficult as the trail was bombarded by previous users postholes and “ledges”. Once we got past this first bit, skinning was a lot easier.

When we first arrived in the basin, Missouri was enshrouded by a cloud. Clouds and flurries were coming and going throughout the day. It was awhile before Missouri was released from her cloak to show her face. Our first view of Missouri from the basin below.

Mark skinning.

We skinned all the way to the north face of Missouri and we were able to skin part way up the face as well. But freshly fallen snow and an icy snowpack beneath began to make skinning difficult, so we booted the rest of the way.

Sometimes the clouds cleared a bit and we could see what surrounded us. Here, you can see the basin we skinned up. We began at the bottom of the far valley in the picture. To reach the top of Missouri, you must travel 6 miles and 4,500′.

We climbed up the north face of Missouri a little bit to the looker’s right of the summit. This provided a good look at our anticipated descent route.


Gear Review: Pieps DSP Pro Avalanche Beacon

Avalanche beacons aren’t sexy. Buy a new pair of skis and everyone will ooh and ah and ask to borrow them. Buy a new beacon and most people will mutter “meh, cool”. But if your beacon is more than a few years old, like each of ours was, or if you’re just getting into backcountry skiing, a good beacon is a smart purchase. I had the opportunity to try the Pieps DSP Pro beacon, and I’m definitely happy with it.
Pieps DSP Pro beacon

The first thing to notice about the Pieps DSP is the harness. In my opinion, it’s the best in the business. Not only does it fit comfortably, but the beacon itself pulls out nicely when the buckle is undone. It’s hard to explain, but the basic idea is that when you pull on the retention strap, the beacon practically pops out, ready for search mode. Additionally, this beacon comes with a lanyard for those choosing to wear the beacon in their pants (several models of Black Diamond pants are specifically designed for the beacon, though any solid pant pocket will do).
Pieps DSP Pro avalanche beacon harness

The Pieps DSP is available in a Sport model as well as the Pro, that I’m using. The Sport is an excellent model in its own right, but there are a few features that may make the Pro worth considering. First, the battery life on the Pro is longer than the Sport- in fact, the battery life is rated as double that of the Sport (and most other beacons, for that matter). This isn’t a big deal, but it does make it less likely to head out with a beacon on low battery power. Second, the Pro claims a search radius of 60 meters, one of only two beacons with a 60 meter range. In a large avalanche, your companions will be happy about the increased range, since the DSP Pro should pick up the signal before other beacons. Finally, the Pro reverts back to send mode when the beacon stops moving, as in the case of being trapped in a second avalanche (the Sport is on a timer). Other features not found on the Sport are less important, in my opinion. These features include:

TR: Cold Smoke in Aspen

Last week the powder hit in a big way. While we were lined up to test skis at the SIA on-snow event at Copper Mountain, we just couldn’t make ourselves do the gnarly drive and pull ourselves away from all this luscious powder at the resort:

It just kept on being good! Brittany milking pow at 2:30 pm at Crested Butte Mountain Resort last Monday!

It just kept on being soooo good! Brittany milking pow at 2:30 pm at Crested Butte Mountain Resort last Monday!

So, we didn’t go. And we ended up rescheduling a meeting with our partners at Backbone Media. Instead of meeting at Copper, we were able to convince Sam to meet us for a backcountry lap in his own backyard in Aspen. He brought us lots of gear to test, including the new Black Diamond Helio skis:

Testing out the new Black Diamond Helio skis: Jordan White, Sam Coffey, Brittany Konsella, Frank Konsella

Testing out the new Black Diamond Helio skis: Jordan White, Sam Coffey, Brittany Konsella, Frank Konsella

Our friends Jordan and Nate guided us to one of the coolest zones we’ve skied in awhile.
Backcountry skiing Mount Shimer near Aspen.

Backcountry skiing Mount Shimer near Aspen.

Backcountry skiing Mount Shimer near Aspen.


14er TBT: Mount Harvard Ski (17 May 2008)

This is part of an ongoing series re-telling Brittany’s fourteener-skiing story. Look for the reports every Thursday, as part of a Throwback Thursday theme.

I began my fourteener-skiing project in 2006, and met Frank quickly after, while looking for partners to help me accomplish my goal. But, when I first asked Frank if he wanted to ski all of Colorado’s fourteeners, he said it wasn’t really a goal of his.

But, then he started skiing them with me. More and more of them. He skied the boring ones like Bross and Sherman. And then all the sudden there was a switch. Frank started skiing fourteeners without me… and I knew he’d changed his mind. My project had become his too, and now he was about to finish. Mount Harvard ended up being Frank’s final fourteener.

So, this post is a tribute to Frank and the partnership we had (and continue to have). I could not have skied all of the Colorado’s fourteeners without having met him, and Frank would not have even begun his project without me. That said, I’ll leave the report in Frank’s words. Below is a slightly modified version of his report for Mount Harvard, which would be Frank’s fourteener finisher, and my 39th fourteener skied.

I’m really not sure what to say. As many of you know, I’ve been skiing a lot of fourteeners the last couple of years, and Mount Harvard ended up being the last. I’m not sure what I feel about that right now, one thing I know for sure is that nothing is “done”- I’ve stillgot so many peaks left to climb and ski, some of them over 14k, some of them not. Another thing I know is that it’s been a heck of a journey.

I’ll end up leaving somebody or something out, so I’ll say this: Thanks to everyone who gave me a place to crash, or posted a TR or answered a pm with helpful beta, or skied a peak with me, or helped in any other way. Thanks to all of you.

“Don’t get me wrong; you won’t see me skiing Bross or Sherman anytime soon.” —That’s what I posted almost 2 years ago to the day, 5-19-08. Of course, about a week later I skied my first peak with Brittany, and the next thing you know, I’m skiing Bross and Sherman (which were actually really fun, like all the 14ers). So that’s how it was for me- I was hitting some of the fun lines here and there, and then all of a sudden I was ticking them off one by one, as fast as I could. So thanks, Brittany, for setting those wheels in motion, I’m sure we’ll be hitting some more of them together real soon :)

Moving on…
We were able to make it to the North Cottonwood trailhead (barely) and we started skinning a little after 5am. We were joined by 2 splitboarders, a tele-er, and a couple of dogs, too. Eventually we got out of the trees and saw the goal for the day (Brittany skinning):

We were able to skin all but the last 20 feet or so. Along the way, I saw these guys:

I figured I should bring something up to the summit to celebrate, it ended up being a Guinness :)


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