(Last Updated On: June 12, 2016)
Ten years ago over Memorial day weekend, Brittany and I met for the first time and skied the East face of Castle. Ever since then, we have tried to to get out of town to ski over the holiday weekend. While the 26th wasn’t quite on the weekend, it was what our schedules allowed, and we choose the Skywalker couloir on South Arapahoe Peak as our first objective. Unfortunately, the weather wasn’t exactly cooperating, with the forecast calling for snow. That said, we found ourselves at the trailhead on a reasonably cold morning with mostly clear skies- maybe those forecasters were wrong! We made our way up the summertime trail with views of the surrounding peaks:
The Indian Peaks area has been steadily climbing up my list of places to backcountry ski, since I seem to find great lines every time I visit. The Skywalker couloir didn’t take long to reach, and it looked like the weather might still hold:
The Skywalker couloir might not look like it in the photo above, but it’s quite steep- often reported as 55 degrees or more. Still shaded, the couloir was icy and the clouds started to roll in as we ascended. Looking up:
The couloir gets steeper the higher you ascend, so by the time we neared the top of the line, it was noticeably steep, with our knees touching the snow on each step, and the snow was getting progressively harder as well, so only our frontpoints were gaining any traction. It was a relief to top out. While the summit wasn’t far away, the first rumble of thunder made it clear that we needed to call it a day and head down. Frank:
Skiing was interesting, to say the least. Each turn would last 25 feet, while our edges struggled to gain traction on the steep icy slope. I was glad both of our bindings held up and didn’t prerelease- I’m fairly certain my Dynafits would have. Brittany:
Thankfully the bulk of the storm held off just long enough for us to get back to the trailhead. While we didn’t exactly have perfect conditions, I kind of enjoyed the challenge that the difficult snow presented to us. I wouldn’t mind skiing it again in perfect corn though!
Glad we were on these: