TR: Pacific Peak Ski (6 May 2016)

The north couloir on Pacific is a classic line. But, it’s often difficult to get into condition. Ten years ago, I skied it mid-May with my friend Dave Bourassa and I’ve been itching to get back in recent years.

The north couloir of Pacific on the right, seen from Crystal Peak.
Pacific Peak seen from Crystal Peak

A closer look.
Pacific Peak seen from Crystal Peak.

Finally, the stars aligned for a Pacific ski with my friend Zach. We approached from the east, via the Spruce Creek trailhead. Zach skinning.
Zach Taylor backcountry splitboarding on Pacific Peak.

Lots of signs of mining in the area.
Mining ruins near Mohawk Basin.

The Mohawk Lake basin is a serene scene!
Mohawk Basin with Pacific Peak.

The Hawaii Couloirs off the east ridge, with Pacific Peak behind.
Hawaii Couloirs and Pacific Peak.

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Lightning Bolt Couloir 5.13.16

Brittany and I headed down to Telluride to check out the snow conditions in the San Juans last week. One of our goals included the Lightning Bolt couloir. As is usually the case in the San Juans, the scenery on the approach was tough to beat. Wilson Peak and the ski area:
wilson peak

telluride mountains

We had a great view of Telluride as we climbed out of the valley. Interestingly, the grass covered area in the foreground is a Superfund site due to old mine tailings.
Town of Telluride

The skiing potential kept increasing as we ascended. This S-shaped couloir was calling my name, though it looked to be past its prime:
telluride backcountry

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Gear Review: Patagonia KnifeRidge Softshell Bib Pants

This season I’ve had the opportunity to check out the Women’s Patagonia KnifeRidge Sofshell Bib Pants. Designed specifically for ski mountaineering in mind, I was eager to try these bibs out on long harsh days. I spent several days testing these bibs out in various conditions. I will discuss my findings below in this review.

Patagonia KnifeRidge pant

Brittany dons her Patagonia KnifeRidge Pants while skiing in the Zirkel Wilderness!

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TR: Quandary Peak – Cristo Couloir Ski (3 May 2016)

I first skied Quandary Peak in January 2007. Since we encountered windy conditions and the snowpack was not totally reliable, we settled on a descent via the east ridge and east bowls. But, the Cristo Couloir lingered, and remained on my list – something I’d have to come back to someday.

Larry and I made an attempt of Cristo Couloir in February but were knocked down by winds during the ascent. We retreated and went for powder in the trees instead. But, again, the Cristo Couloir remained on the list, begging to be checked off.

It was Larry’s birthday, and a good day on skis is a great way to celebrate another full circle around the sun… We had originally intended to ski something in the Gore Range. But, my ideas were on the long side of a day and Larry was battling quite the cold. So, we needed something shorter. Quandary seemed to fit the bill. So, for another attempt we went.

The Cristo Couloir is really more of a gully – this picture taken from near Hoosier Pass.
Cristo Couloir on Quandary Peak, Colorado.

We ascended via the standard summer route, the east ridge.
Skinning the east ridge on Quandary Peak in Colorado.

Being one of the most popular Colorado fourteeners, we were not alone.
Larry Fontaine backcountry skiing Quandary Peak.

We kept catching up.
Backcountry skiing on Quandary Peak.

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