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.
Mount Columbia was my fourteenth fourteener to ski. It was a slogging sort of day and I was joined by Fritz Sperry, Mark Cavaliero, and Joe Brannan. I never wrote a trip report for this peak in the past. So, here’s my recollection, to the best that I can remember.
Mt. Columbia (14,073′)
I was having fun hitting up the peaks in the Sawatch Range. I decided to go for another. I called up Fritz and said, “Hey, what do you say we ski a fourteener this weekend?” I knew he couldn’t say no. I guess it was appropriate that we decided that we ski Columbia considering we checked out the trailhead location after our Princeton ski the previous year.
We met in Golden at 3 am and Fritz proceeded to break the law multiple times while driving. We picked up Mark as we cruised through Bailey, and we met Joe at the trailhead where he had spent the night. It was 6 am when we left the cars to start climbing on the Colorado Trail, but it was still dark.
A reminder of the benefits of waking up early…. Such a gorgeous sunrise!
After enjoying some turns off of Pearl’s subpeak, half of our group decided to push on for more turns. We rounded the corner to our north and had it in mind to make this our next playground.
But, Mother Nature decided to make things a bit more interested for us as the clouds sank lower and lower during our ascent.
Colorado is a land of huts. Our mountains are dotted with a plethora of backcountry refuges where we can ski in and ski out. It’s a fantastic thing. And frankly, it’s something both Frank and I need to be better about taking advantage of.
So, when a new friend invited me to the Green-Wilson hut, I went at lengths to rearrange my work schedule so I could be a part of this trip. Having been up in the area when skiing the East Face of Castle years ago, I knew that this hut was located among a treasure-chest of lines.
Located just on the other side of the Elk Mountains from our home in Crested Butte, the Green-Wilson Hut is most reliably accessed through Aspen. The Green-Wilson Hut is built to accommodate 8, so 5 of us creatively stuffed ourselves into my bottoming-out Subaru Forester to meet a remaining group of 3 at the Ashcroft townsite, the winter closure of Castle Creek road.
After signing in at the Ashcroft cabin, we began the 6 mile skin up to the Green-Wilson Hut. What a fine day it was for a tour!
After a few miles, the road began to climb more steadily toward the hut. Stephanie pausing to soak up the view.
Alas, the hut. The Green-Wilson hut was built in 1978 and was recently refurbished. It was built in memory of Lu Lynn Green Wilson.
When we get back from SIA, one of the first questions we’re asked is “So what’s the coolest thing you saw?” Some years, that’s easy, like the first time we got to see Black Diamond’s Jetforce airbag pack in action. This year, well, nothing was exactly mindblowing. Atomic’s Backland AT boots were probably the most interesting thing we saw at SIA2015, mostly because they were so unexpected. Most big alpine manufacturers end up making an AT boot that is similar to the alpine boots that they already make, which is fine since both of us are fans of four buckle overlap boots. Atomic, on the other hand, unveiled a boot that pairs better with Lycra than baggy pants.
There are 4 boots in the Atomic Backland boot series: Carbon Light, Carbon, Backland, and Backland Women’s (which is the same as the Backland but with “girly” colors). The Carbon Light is really more of a skimo racer boot, with a flex rating (subjective as always) of 90. The 120 flex Carbon was the one that I really keyed on, and was able to ski a few runs on at the SIA on-snow demo day at Copper Mountain.