14er TBT: San Luis Peak (28 May 2007)

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.

We were on a roll during Memorial Day weekend, 2007. We were trying to ski four fourteeners in three days, and make it back to work for Tuesday morning. San Luis was the last one in the series, and the longest day. Below is a modified version of my original trip report for Handies Peak, which would become my 28th fourteener skied.

TR: San Luis Peak (14,014′) 5-28-2007
Frank, Brittany, Jordan White

After hitting up Sunshine and Redcloud on Saturday and Handies on Sunday, we packed up our camp and headed down to Lake City to stay with jcwhite’s grandparents who were visiting from Texas, staying in their family cabin. Things in Lake City were pretty slow with their season just starting. At least it wasn’t as bad as when we came here in April and couldn’t find a restaurant that was open!

The wake-up call was at 3 am on this Monday morning. We drove toward Creede, which took us about an hour from Lake City. We went over some amazing passes, but I was barely even awake to notice :frown: We arrived at Creede. still in the dark. But as we began taking a dirt road that goes up about 7 miles to the Equity Mine, the light of the day slowly brought us back to life.

After messing around with our packs for awhile, we began hiking around 6:15 am. We followed the Willow Creek road north from the Equity Mine (at 11,090′) for a couple of miles. When hiking through the willowed area of the valley I saw lots of evidence of moose. I didn’t think that moose lived in the San Juans- I usually think about them being more north toward Fraser and Steamboat, but evidently they were reintroduced here. I think they are doing pretty well here as there were moose droppings and tracks everywhere.

We then took a right turn NE heading toward a saddle.
Hiking to go backcountry skiing on San Luis

Looking back down at Willow Creek valley.
Willow Creek Valley near San Luis Peak.

I was moving slow. I was so tired from too many mornings of waking up early, lack of sleep and being sick earlier in the week. Finally we reached the saddle at 12,300 ft and got a good view of San Luis.
San Luis Peak

A closer look revealed that our intented line, the Yawner Gullies, were indeed filled with snow.
Backcountry skiing on San Luis Peak, Yawner Gullies


TR: Mount Tweto (12 May 2015)

Mount Tweto is one of those lesser known peaks of Colorado’s fantastic Mosquito Range. Tucked behind Democrat and Arkansas, and in the shadows of Buckskin, it tends to be overlooked. But, access is easy, the lines are good, and I was eager to check out this peak.

Weather windows have been extremely difficult to find this spring. If it’s sunny for a few hours, you’d better go for it, because the next time you see the sun could be in another week or more. That’s what was in store for Tuesday morning. I knew we had to jump on it. And I was able to persuade my friend Matt Kamper to join me on this mid-week adventure.

Though the approach is nearly 4 miles, the terrain allows for fast skinning. Still, we were happy to lay our eyes on Mount Tweto under bluebird skies.
Mount Tweto

Rather than ascending the peak itself, we climbed on to a saddle to gain a ridge to the looker’s right. This allowed for some wonderful views of the ski lines Tweto had to offer.
Mount Tweto ski slopes!

Matt Kamper gaining the ridge, with Democrat behind.
Matt Kamper backcountry skiing on Mount Tweto.


TR: Lackawanna Peak Ski (4 May 2015)

The weather in April had been somewhat unsettled. So, I was looking forward to a drier May. As it turns out, this has been one of the wettest Mays on record for Colorado so far. And started that way nearly right off the bat.

The first weekend in May was wet and dreary. Rain. Even up high. This time of year we usually fear the dreaded “d”-word. D for dust. This year it’s been the dreaded “r”-word. R for rain. And “NF” for not freezing at night. I have never seen such a moist spring where snow still melts at alarming rates – at least below treeline. The clouded nights have continually prevented deep freezes from happening in May, contributing to rapid snow-melt, despite the fact that snow continues to fly up high.

While some things are alarmingly devoid of snow, others are so plastered with white stuff you feel like you must be living in Alaska. I have never seen the Sawatch Range looking so white. It’s been a very odd spring. Welcome to Colorado, the new Pacific Northwest. Well, sort of.

But, you take what you can get, and this was what I was faced with when planning a ski for Monday May 4th.

As I left Crested Butte on Sunday afternoon, the dreaded “r”-word had taken over the town. It was pouring rain. I had intentions to ski a line that was lower down on the east side of Independence Pass. But, I didn’t have a great feeling about its condition. My intuition was realized to be true as I gazed upon a completely schmooed out avy path. Rain and wet slides had taken a toll on this line that I’d gazed upon in prime condition just a few weeks earlier. So, on to plan B.

Except, Plan B wasn’t looking good either. So, we went on to plans C & D, one of which ended up being Lackawanna Peak. Higher in elevation, with some mellow options, this peak seemed like a good choice to ski after a night of rain and several nights of soft freeze. Although Natalia had skied it before, she was eager to perhaps check out another part of Lackawanna Peak, if opportunity permitted.

It’s never a good sign for a ski day when you wake up at over 10,000-feet in the middle of the night to find raindrops clinging in the air. I didn’t have great hopes for the day. But, we were there, and we were awake, so why not just try at least? You never know until you go.

We began ascending Lackawanna Peak from the south, hiking about 600′-vertical before finding our first strips of snow. Natalia.
Natalia Moran backcountry skiing on Lackawanna Peak.

Brittany Walker Konsella hiking to go backcountry skiing on Lackawanna Peak.

Once on snow, we chose to switch to skinning pretty early on. Natalia with Star Mountain in the background. We were happy to find a decent freeze in the snow despite the rain and clouds that had dominated the night. You don’t know until you go!
Natalia Moran skinning up Lackawanna Peak.

As the terrain steepened toward the top, we switched back to booting.
Brittany Walker Konsella backcountry skiing on Lackawanna Peak.


14er TBT: Handies Peak (27 May 2007)

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.

We were on a roll during Memorial Day weekend, 2007. We were trying to ski four fourteeners in three days, and make it back to work for Tuesday morning. After skiing Sunshine and Redcloud, Handies Peak was on the docket for day two. Below is a modified version of my original trip report for Handies Peak, which would become my 27th fourteener skied.

TR: Handies Peak (14,058′) 5-27-2007
Frank, Brittany, Jordan White
Special appearance by Jon Turner and Keith

Jordan, Frank and I hit Sunshine and Redcloud on Saturday. That night we stayed in our camping spot at the Silver Creek and Grizzly Creek trailheads. We were tired from a short night of sleep, so we spent the afternoon eating and lounging around camp. jon turner knew we’d be at this trailhead and had intentions of hitting Handies with us the next day. It was lucky that Frank had his ski boots in obvious view, because jon turner and 3DB found us without any problems. We welcomed them into our camp and we had a good time hanging out that night. But with the short night before and the upcoming 4 am wake up call once again, we were in bed before dark even hit!

From Redcloud and the Silver Creek trail, the east face of Handies could be seen easily. We’d taken pictures of this face and plotted out a tentative line. We choose not to approach Handies from the east via Grizzly Gulch. goldenboy and I had already attempted this route on April 1st, but we were forced to turn around…. this was back when the road to the trailhead was not open, making for a long day. Instead, we chose to climb the shorter route from the north starting at American Basin at 11,400 ft, about 1000 less feet of climbing. But we wanted to ski down the east face. So, we ended up shuttling cars between the two trailheads.

We began driving up the road in the dark toward Cinnamon Pass. By the time we’d reached the turn off to the 4×4 rd that goes to American Basin (at 11,300 ft) it was light. We were able to drive a bit up this road, but I believe you’d be able to go a bit further in the summer. No matter, the climb wasn’t going to be bad from 11,400 ft :)

Frank getting ready for the skin in the morning, at 6 am.
Backcountry skiing on Handies Peak.

The views in American Basin are spectacular!
Backcountry skiing on Handies Peak.

A short way’s up, Jon Turner and Keith opted to take a more direct route to the summit. We opted against this, being tired from the day before and with a big day ahead the next day. This pic shows them attempting to skin up the north face of Handies. That attempt was short-lived and they eventually ended up booting up the face.
Backcountry skiing on Handies Peak

Jordan, Frank, and I followed the standard route to the summit. It was an easy route and we were able to skin all the way up to the summit! I wasn’t feeling well on the way up however. Earlier in the week I found out I had strep throat and was recovering from that. Short nights and hard work didn’t help my recovery and I ended up hurling a couple of times on the way up. Nevertheless, 2.5 hours after starting we were at the top!
Brittany Walker Konsella on the summit of Handies Peak.


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