(Last Updated On: May 1, 2018)
I wouldn’t be the ski mountaineer that I am today without Mark and Dave. Back in 2006, they took me under their wing, and I began skiing backcountry lines with them that I had never imagined were even possible. We were young and unstoppable, and the sky was the limit. Memorial Day weekend that same year, we skied the East Face of Castle, where I also invited Frank. Though that was my first ski with Frank and the beginning of a blossoming relationship, it also meant my ski time with Mark and Dave began to dwindle. Different goals and locations kept us from skiing together as frequently as we once did. But, every time I ski with Mark and Dave I always enjoy it.
2006 was also the year that Dave, Mark and I skied Peak V together, otherwise known as East Partner Peak (look for a Throwback trip report later this week). That was my first Gore Range expedition and the last for many years as I undertook my goal of skiing all of Colorado’s fourteeners. Devoid of higher elevation peaks, the Gore Range sat waiting for me until I finished my goal. But, in recent years I’ve enjoyed exploring this unique and hard to navigate area. Earlier in the week, I had mentioned to Dave that Frank and I were hoping to head north for some skiing in the Gore Range as they were holding a decent amount of snow. Mark had the week off too, and it only seemed fitting to ski West Partner Peak, completing the Partner pair, with some of the best partners I’ve had in backcountry skiing.
We started in the silence of darkness with headlamps on our heads from Booth Creek trailhead. The slog in was long, as is typical of the Gore. But, we caught early morning light on our West Partner Peak objective.
Once on the southwest face we began booting up a couloir that looked to be just right of the summit.
From the top of the couloir, we got a great look into the East Face of West Partner Peak.
While we had potential plans to drop the East Face, what you can’t tell from the picture is that the entrance from where we were standing was basically impossible. We needed to head south on the ridge to an easier entry point. With the east face warming quickly, we decided it was a no-go. But, we also realize that we still had to follow the ridge south to reach the actual summit of West Partner Peak. So, we began our traverse. Mark and I.
We had a ways to go.
Looking back toward Frank.
From the summit, Dave snapped a picture of the four of us. After some contemplation, we decided that the last time all four of us had actually skied together was back on the East Face of Castle in 2006, our first ski with Frank.
East Partner Peak, which Dave, Mark and I skied back in 2006.
Peaks R & S.
Solitude, Climbers Point, and Skiers Point gore range.
Mount Powell, still on my list.
Frank decided on an expert level straighline from the summit into our descent of the southwest face.
Lower down on the mountain. Mark.
We slid our way down through thick and sticky snow for most of Booth Creek, until the snow ran out for the last 0.5 to 1 mile. We enjoyed libations at the trailhead. We couldn’t have had a more perfect day with the windless bluebird sky. So much to be thankful for – and it great to be skiing with old friends!