(Last Updated On: May 3, 2015)
I’ve been wanting to ski, or at least climb, Mount Ouray for years. Standing tall in the southern Sawatch, south of Monarch Pass, this “almost a fourteener” is highly prominent from highway 50. It’s even closer from the Monarch Crest trail, which basically circles the mountain. April storms had pounded the southern Sawatch range, and despite a lackluster winter in Crested Butte and elsewhere in Colorado, this area actually looks deeper than normal. The Devil’s Armchair is Ouray’s huge east cirque, and qualifies as one of the Sawatch range’s more interesting areas, though it’s not as bad as the name might imply:
Like it’s bigger brother fourteeners in the range, Ouray requires a solid vertical gain to earn the summit. We started off on dry trail, but were quickly able to switch to skinning. Near treeline, you enter an incredible Bristlecone Pine forest. For those that don’t know, Bristlecone pines are the oldest living thing on Earth, with some trees an amazing 5,000 years old.
We were more or less able to skin all the way to the summit.
Like I said earlier, the southern Sawatch range is caked with snow this spring. Shavano and Tabeguache never look this good:
A few building storms took away our sunlight at the summit, but with the rock walls of the chutes and couloirs of the Devil’s Armchair, we still had good visibility. Brittany skiing the upper face:
Cold temps and small storms kept this face in more winterlike conditions than we expected, with an inch or two of fresh snow on top of carveable chalky snow underneath. Our route took us down the exposed center of the face, until we could reach our exit ramp near the bottom of the face. Frank:
Our friend and neighbor Cory enters the meat of the line:
We finally got to our exit. Can you spot Brittany?
This led to a fun exit chute. Frank:
After the cirque was done, we still had plenty of skiing left to go. First up, it was back through the beautiful Bristlecone Pines again.
With good snow, Mount Ouray makes a great ski- certainly among the best in the Sawatch range. With so many line choices, it’s also a mountain that warrants a return trip to ski new lines.
In honor of our friend Cory from Maine, check out the deals at EMS:
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