14er TBT: Grays Peak (12 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.

Work and inclement weather were providing some barriers to getting fourteeners done. I had to think creatively. After skiing Mount Bierstadt after work, I was looking to see if I could get one done before work. Grays Peak fit the bill. I headed out solo on this mission. Gray’s ended up being my 22nd fourteener skied, and the only one I would do solo. Below is a slightly modified version of my original trip report.

Skiing a 14er Before Work
Grays Peak
Brittany, and her shadow

After a weekend of crappy weather, I was antsy to get out and this weekend’s weather was looking much better. But, I was scheduled to work all weekend at my second job, and outdoor shop. I didn’t have to be at work until 10 am so I decided to make something happen. I settled on Grays peak knowing it was a relatively easy ski and I’d been to that basin before so I knew I wouldn’t get lost in the dark. I’d checked out the trailhead the weekend before and knew you couldn’t really get up the road past Bakerville at 9,800 ft so I knew it was going to be longer than usual. “Okay, so I have to work at 10, and it’s an hour and a half drive from Gray’s…. so…. looks like I’ll be hiking at night!” So there it was. My plan was to leave the car at 1 am.

When I got to Bakerville the snow was frozen despite the temperatures reading 39 degrees. It was a clear night. It was possible to drive up the road a ways on the frozen snow but I opted not to do that. I didn’t want to get my car stuck should the snow collapse, nor did I want to go sliding into a tree or something. So I parked at Bakerville.

I left my car at 1 am.
Car parked and ready to ski on Grays Peak.

And I hiked on the road for quite a while in the dark
Grays Peak sign near Bakerville

Skinning up the road was easy, but seemed to take a while because I was alone, and it was dark. I was able to skin most of the way up the road except for a stretch that was not more than a half mile long.

Having skied Torrey’s before, I was familiar with the route to Gray’s. So, even though I could see only outlines of the mountains, I could generally find my way just find.

I generally followed the standard summer route to the top of Gray’s. The snow had a hard freeze on top, after melting earlier that day. This made skinning difficult at times. Near the summit, I was frustrated with skinning and opted to boot pack the last few hundred feet of the route. By then, I was seeing the first glimpses of twilight.

I reached the summit just in time to view the most beautiful sunrise. Sunrises are always better when earned, and when seen from the top of the world!
Sunrise on top of Grays Peak

Sunrise on top of Grays Peak

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Two Sided Owen Tour 4.4.15

On closing weekend, I normally like to ride the lifts, rather than ski the backcountry. It only makes sense to get the last “free” vertical of the year. But with the ski area limping to the finish line this year, good snow in the backcountry seemed like a much better choice for Crested Butte spring skiing. We headed up towards Mount Owen with designs on the South side, something that Brittany had never skied and I hadn’t skied since the 205cm skinny ski days of the late 90’s.
South face Mount Owen Crested Butte

Joining us were Tom Runcie, exactly one year removed from a bad ankle injury, and Alex Reidman. Despite a minor mishap along the way, we made good time towards the summit.
South ridge Mount Owen

For those of you who have never been up this ridge, here’s a quick piece of advice- stay off the snow. The cornices here grow into massive blocks of snow, and they start literally inches away from solid ground. In any case, Tom and I continued to the actual summit and quickly decided that we would head down the North side instead. The unexpectedly good powder conditions on the summit spine just looked too good:

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TR: Naked Lady Couloir (26 March 2015)

Mount Snowdon was the second peak I ever climbed it my life – the highest mountain in Wales, that is. We climbed it during a trip to Great Britain when I was just a kid. Little did I know that this would be the just the beginning of the mountaineering path I would eventually gravitate toward later in life. And I certainly didn’t know that I would return to Snowdon, this time Snowdon Peak near Silverton, CO, to ski the Naked Lady couloir.

But, that’s what we did. Naked Lady is a tantalizing line for skiers.
Frank Konsella with Naked Lady couloir in the distance.

It dangles on the face of Snowdon Peak, dancing in thin air.
Naked Lady couloir in the San Juans

She welcomed us with open arms.
Naked Lady couloir near Silverton, CO.

The climb was fun.
Frank Konsella climbing Naked Lady couloir in the San Juans.

Brittany Konsella climbing Naked Lady couloir near Silverton, CO

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TR: A Beautiful Couloir Day (31 March 2015)

It’s been a little bit of a low snow year here in Crested Butte, and Colorado as a whole. But, that doesn’t mean there isn’t great skiing to be had. In fact, we’ve found some of the best spring conditions ever in the Crested Butte backcountry and beyond. You just have to know where to go for something like a beautiful couloir day :)

Susan and I headed out to the Irwin area to hit up one of my most favorite couloirs in the area.

Owen looking good.
Owen in the Crested Butte backcountry.

Mount Owen in the Crested Butte backcountry.

The climb is not too long, fun, and incredibly aesthetic.
Brittany Konsella climbing a couloir to go backcountry skiing in the Crested Butte backcountry.

Susan Mol arriving to the top of our line with Mount Owen behind.
Susan Mol climbing to go backcountry skiing in Crested Butte.

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