We woke to rather warm temperatures on Sunday morning. We decided to stick with our original plan and hope for the best. We did find that the snow had frozen, but very minimally. Warming happened fast. With a slight change of plans, we were able to make the most of the day’s conditions.
Things tend to happen in waves. Carl Dowdy finished his 14er project less than two weeks ago, rounding out the top ten finishers. But other skiers were right on his heels, including our friend Matt Kamper.
Yesterday, Matt summited Snowmass and skied into the history books becoming the 11th 14erskier/snowboard finisher- Quite the feat for someone who is about twice the age of many of the other finishers!
During my own fourteener skiing project, I met some of the most amazing people and continue to maintain strong friendships with them. Bonds experienced in the mountains cannot be broken. I didn’t meet Matt until near the end of my project, on peak # 47 to be precise.
I was sick as a dog. I shouldn’t have been climbing a fourteener at all. But, there I was, climbing Little Bear, with Frank and my good friend Pam. Somewhere amidst the rocks and snow mix before the couloir, I turned my head back and saw two wandering hikers, also with skis on their backs. Eventually they caught up to us and introductions were had – it was Matt and his partner, Ben Conners.
Meeting on a 14er creates an instant bond. And that bond has carried through years. Matt and I have shared some of the most grueling 14ers together – Pyramid and Capital. But, we’ve had some other great adventures too – Ice Mountain, Mount Hood, Mount Adams, and St. Helens are only a few of the places we have ventured together.
It was Monday morning that I got the email. Matt was going to finish his project the next day. He invited Frank and I, but we could not drop our commitments on such short notice. Matt and Jordan White began in Marble and camped at Geneva Lake. At 2:00 am they began their ascent. They skied the west side of Snowmass and good turns were had.
Matt finished his 14erskiing project two years, exactly to the day, after I finished my own project. I am sorry I could not be there to join him on this celebratory day, as he was there for mine. But, my congratulations could not be any bigger.
Congratulations, Matt! Now, let’s go have some more adventures
Ever since I first really set my eyes on the west side of Owen, I knew I wanted to ski it someday. The west face was quickly added to my ever-growing list of things to ski. Last weekend, we finally checked that one off the list.
Our day started early at the Kebler Pass trailhead. We met up with our new friend Jenny and snowmobiled to eastern base of Owen. We skinned to the south ridge, greeted by flying ptarmigans along the way. Yes, these seemingly-lazy birds fly sometimes, and beautifully too!
The cornices on Owen’s ridge are abnormally large this year, a testament to the winds we have had. Because of this, they are calving away, leaving terrifyingly large holes as they peel themselves off the mountain.
Four Fabulous Females met in the morning to ski.
The west side of Gothic was their objective, you see.
They set out skinning in the morning light.
Despite the cloudy skies and short freeze at night.
They skinned over snow and some patches of dirt
Before switching to booting, which made the lungs hurt.
The snow was still firm and held them up well
Though a few parts were soft and gave them some hell.
On Friday, May 3rd, Carl Dowdy clicked into his skis at the top of Crestone Needle and skied down it with a giant smile on his face, becoming the 10th (known) person to ski all of Colorado’s fourteeners. Joining Carl in his celebratory ski were Matt Kamper, Marc Barella, Mike Bean, Eric Sangueza and Rob Miller. Marc Barella and Matt Kamper are closing in on finishing their 14er ski descents as well as they each have 4 and 5 peaks remaining, respectively. (Update 5/5- Marc now only has 2 peaks to become the 2nd snowboarder to finish). And of course our friends Pam Rice and Chris Webster remain close as well, though they seem to enjoy it too much to actually finish.
We at 14erskiers extend a huge congratulations to Carl, and we wish the the best of luck to Marc and Matt in completing their fourteener skiing endeavors.
Carl made a video from the Needle, check it out:
After work on Friday, Frank and I decided to head for an evening ski to enjoy the snow and the beautiful light. Short on time, we opted for the Headwall at the now-closed ski area.
The Hall of Fame is one of the most obvious lines that catches skiers eyes as they gaze up to the jagged peak that caps Crested Butte. Yet, it is one of the lesser known areas on the mountain. Just above the Banana couloir, the lingering snowfield ramps up, steeper and steeper, until it reaches the summit. Coming off of good conditions for the Terminator 3 chute the week before, we decided the Hall of Fame would make a nice follow up.
A week after the ski area closes, the mass exodus starts. The streets are empty. Most of the restaurants are shut down. The hotel parking lots are devoid of cars. The locals are simply gone gone gone. It’s spring break in Crested Butte.
While most Buttians seem to high-tail it to the desert or a beach, I prefer to stick around. It’s nice to wander in the vacant places and spaces created by those who have abandoned the town.
But, something peculiar happened this year. When the lifts stopped spinning the snow started plummeting from the sky. Those who remained in Crested Butte grumbled with disdain as they looked out their windows every morning to see a fresh coat of white on the ground, wishing they could trade their skis for a bike… Except for a few, like me, who are actually skiers who like to ski in this beautiful ski town of ours. Admittedly, I was not ready for winter to leave.
So, I enjoyed my week of spring break skiing my heart out, milking some of the best snows of the season and some of the best lines too. The result you have seen in many of the last week’s trip reports, as well as the pictures below.
This week of unsettled weather has brought storm after storm. Some storms have come with dust, some have not. But, one thing is for sure, the shining sun has been rare. So, when the sky was bluebird on a day that was supposed to have a high probability of snow showers, Frank and I knew we wanted to get out there and enjoy it.
We teamed up with our friends Ben F and Ben M at the Kebler pass trailhead and headed out on our sleds. But, luck would have it’s way with us as Ben F’s sled began acting up and could not be restarted, right around the base of Axtell. So, instead of wasting a rare-blue day on sled shenanigans, we decided Axtell was what we were skiing that day.
At the top of Axtell we took some time to discuss our options to ski that day. Clouds from an approaching storm were looming to our west and we wanted to make the most of the sun’s rays that were left. We decided our best option was to split up into two groups. While Frank and Ben F skied a sub-couloir of the Quill (TR on this coming soon), Ben M and I would ski the Pencil.