This post is part of a Throwback Thursday series featuring trip reports that we haven’t had a chance to write about until now! Look for them at least every other Thursday!
The Gore Range is a bit daunting. Rugged and rocky, this range was largely devoid of precious metals and minerals that stole the attention of early miners. As a result, not many roads were built into this range, and access is more difficult than many other Colorado ranges. To add insult to injury, many of the peaks are nameless on topo maps. Those that are named often actually have two names – a proper name, such as East and West Partner Peaks, and a name that corresponds to the alphabet, like Peak U and V.
Peak C is one of those nameless peaks on the topo map. Although it had been on my hit list for close to a decade, admittedly it took some research to find out exactly where that peak was, and exactly what aspect the CC Rider Couloir faced.
Then, there’s the added problem of a seasonal road closure to Piney Lake. Often passable by snowmobiles in winter, the road melts out fast in spring. Sources on the Internet say that the Piney Lake road does not open until June 21st. But, don’t believe everything you read. A call to the Forest Service revealed it had been open much earlier.
I was able to gather a couple of good partners – my friend Larry from Steamboat and snowboarder Zach. We met in the wee hours of the morning at the Piney Lake trailhead. Or maybe it was night still. It was dark afterall.
We began hiking on the dry and well-traveled trail toward Peak C, eventually veering off the main route to a climber’s trail toward Kneeknocker Pass. Yeah, that’s another thing that’s not on the map.
Climbing on snow is more fun than climbing on trails. Zach and Larry with East Corner Peak behind.
A closer look at East Corner Peak.
And Mount Powell.
Once we popped out over the ride there were lines and more lines, everywhere lines.
We could not yet get a good view of CC Rider Couloir, but we traversed toward it. The morning was very cold and the snow was much more frozen than we had anticipated. Low clouds hung tight to the tops of the peaks that surrounded us. Zach began questioning the conditions for the day and decided that the line would be too frozen to snowboard enjoyably. So, the turned back, while Larry and I pushed on.
Me, near the top of CC Rider Couloir.
The CC Rider Couloir falls short of the summit of Peak C. From the top of the couloir, we could have followed the screed ridge to the summit. But, the wind was howling and we were cold – we did not dress super warmly for what was expected to be a sunny June day. Rather than summiting, we opted to enjoy the views and make our descent from there. (Note – there is another snow routes that veers off from CC Rider lead closer to the summit, but we wanted to follow CC Rider to its end). Me.
Some Gore Range goodness to the north and east.
The descent was pretty fun despite variable conditions. Larry at the top of CC Rider, with Piney Lake in the distance.
As we made our way down, more and more sun made its way through the clouds. Here, you can see Larry descending in the apron with CC Rider above.
Larry was stoked.
Mount Powell once again. That one’s on my list now too 🙂
Larry with Mount Powell behind.
Eventually, our snow ran out and we had to find our way back to the climber’s trail.
Once we made our way back to the heavily traveled trail we were bombarded with questions from hikers. Where did you ski? Did you actually find snow? Was it good? You walked all the way over there to go skiing? How did you get there? It was almost as bad as Maroon Lake trailhead by Aspen. But, from Piney Lake it was easy to point out our line to passersby.
And some more Gorey Goodness.
We enjoyed some snacks and drinks in the parking lot after another long Gore Range day. Check – another one off the list. But, after this, I added a few more to the mix too!