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Where the Peaks Have No Names 5.9.09

Of the many peaks I hoped to find myself on this season, Precarious Peak ranked right near the top. Deep in the heart of the Elks and often shielded from view in the midst of other high peaks, Precarious had remained a mystery to me in both summer and winter. In January, Brittany took this photo of Precarious from Gothic, and I often caught other glimpses of it, or so I thought.

So often this season I’ve found myself re-tracing familiar steps on familiar peaks, or at best teaming up with someone like Pete who may have already skied whatever day’s objective we were working on. Heading off towards Precarious with Rob yesterday into the relative unknown was something I’ve truly been missing lately. As much as I love not needing a map just about anywhere I ski or bike locally, the lack of adventure is often noticeable.

After driving the recently plowed and re-opened Gothic road to the trailhead, we made our way upvalley and caught our first glimpse of the day’s objective.

As we went higher, we were greeted by a high cirque of peaks and a number of fun looking lines that I’ll have to get back to. We were on the right track:

We finished off the skin and transfered to crampons and iceaxes. As is so often the case, the couloir was less steep than it had appeared from afar, not to mention shorter. Still, the last 25′ on the opposite side of the peak was incredibly steep. This photo of Rob doesn’t do it any justice at all.

Meanwhile, looking north I had to wonder if we were on Precarious or not. It turns out that Precarious was indeed across the valley and we had no idea what peak we were on, although it was the peak we had been shooting for. The real Precarious:

The bells:

In the distance L-R are Siberia, Snowmass, Capitol and Daly. Bellview Mountain in front.

I do not know the name of this peak. I do know that I like it. A lot.

We dropped off the north side, then East to get to our S facing couloir. Rob:

Looking down the couloir:

Parts of the couloir had slid, but it was still super high on aesthetics and we were still stoked. Rob:

Meanwhile, since the temps were staying cool we decided that instead of skiing back the same way we came we should continue on towards another summit. From Mount Crested Butte, these twin summits are always visible:

It didn’t look like it would take too much effort to climb up the backside and drop right down the face and into Copper Creek. Being such visible peaks from our homes, Rob and I were psyched at the way things were working out this day. After about 1,000′ of skinning we dropped off the first summit and then cruised up the other, just because. Rob:

A project to be solved another season:

One last view of the peak we skied, which I have now identified as Unnamed 13,260′, or the 433rd highest peak in CO :)

There were some high clouds, but the skiing was still near perfect corn, despite the best attempts of the stupid dust layer to screw it all up.

This was one rotten and nasty looking face:


The unnamed twin peaks we had just skied top out at 13,043′, while the valley floor is just under 10k. Snow or no snow, Rob made sure he could claim a 3,000′ descent 😉

At this point, our 11 hour day consisted of just a couple of things, one of which was checking out some pretty sizeable avalanche debris:

…And the other being a crossing of Copper creek:

All in all, this was one of the most satisfying days of the year for me. Hopefully I can get back into the zone this week before the dust marches up to the tops of the peaks.


Add a Comment
  1. Hi Frank, looks like you’ve got it going! Stuck you in my blogroll over at WildSnow. How is Brit’s leg healing?

  2. Brittany is doing better, thanks! She’s able to ride outside now, just not on singletrack. But it’s a start.

    Have you spent much time around Precarious? I was told today that UN 13,260 is unofficially known as Golden Peak. Josh and I skied Precarious today, that is one aptly named peak…

  3. So is Precarious what I was asking you about, or am I still way off? Maybe I’ll send a pic so you can see what I see from over here.

  4. Yeah, send a photo if you get a chance. I didn’t see anything that looked promising on the Aspen side, but it was corniced, too, so we didn’t get to look off the edge everywhere.

  5. Ted- I was looking at Brittany’s TR from N Maroon and noticed this photo:

    The twin peaks in the center are UN 13,260′, which we skied on the other side in this TR. On the far left of the photo is Precarious, which appears to have some lines on looker’s left of the summit. Are either of those what you’ve been looking at?

  6. Frank- It’s a slightly different perspective than what I’m used to seeing but I think the peak on the far left is what I was talking about– kind of flat on the top, split by a big coulor, not sure which side is higher, almost has a Conundrum Peak feel to it. I’ll find a pic that shows it from where I usually see it.


  7. Cool, I’d like to see another angle on that one.

  8. The twin peaks you climbed and skied down after descending the western Golden Top are called locally, but not on any map (as is true for “Golden Tops” also not with a map name just a local name), “Camels Humps”. Avery is the peak with the rotten rock face you showed in one of your photos from the Camels Humps summit or descent.

    Re the comment from “Ted” above, Precarious is very clearly seen in the left side of Rustler’s Gulch, with Cassie Peak in the center of the head of Rustlers, and Golden Tops on the upper right part of Rustlers.

    Thanks for the great photos and the report.

    Tom Scoville

  9. Thanks Tom!

    Weird that Avery is marked on most maps when it really isn’t a separate peak, but a beautiful peak like Golden Tops isn’t marked at all. I vaguely remember someone saying “camel humps”, but it must have been years ago.

  10. “A project to be solved another season” is the north face of PT13253. It’s a pretty sweet looking face.

  11. Jed- We call that the Spider Face. Went up it last year, but ended up skiing down the “White Widow”, as we call the line on the S Face.

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