(Last Updated On: May 19, 2020)
I first laid eyes on Sayres X-rated in June of 2006 when I first skied La Plata Peak. Four years later I, along with my friends Lacy and Kim. decided that Sayres Benchmark might be fun to ski in mid-June. But, the line looked to no longer be in, and the bushwhack through the willows was intimidating. So we skipped it and went for La Plata once again. A month later, my friend Lacy would perish while skiing in Rocky Mountain National Park. Sayres Benchmark was beginning to seem elusive to me, and went a little by the wayside until May, 2018, when I skied it with my friends Larry and Dan. But, it had just snowed and we were a little worried about snow moving on X-Rated. So, we stuck with the mellower Grand Central Couloir instead. With a moderate spring like we’ve had this year, Sayers X-Rated seemed to be in order. Frank had yet to ski or summit the peak, so it was easy to get him on board.
The first week of May had been plagued with warm temperatures and week freezes. But, finally, the snowpack shifted from winter to spring, and this week had perhaps overly-solid freezes. Thankfully, that meant that we didn’t need to start very early for this one – 8:30 to be exact, with hopes to be skiing around 2 pm. Seems late for spring, but given our experience earlier in the week and the cold temps for the night, it seemed right.
We walked a ways in shoes, following the summer trail toward La Plata, which was a mix of dirt and snow. As elevation increased, the snow deepened and walking became more difficult. Around an elevation of 10,880 feet we left the trail and began skinning up the La Plata creek for faster, more efficient travel. Shortly after, we emerged out of the forest and eventually gazed upon Sayres Benchmark, with X-rated on the left and the large Grand Central Couloir cutting up to the right.
It’s like the mountain was made for skiing.
We skinned until the base of the mountain and then began for a nice bootpack up the Grand Central Couloir.
Despite the sunny day, the snow had barely warmed. Given the north and slightly west facing nature of X-rated, we were wondering what conditions we’d encounter. But, it turned out to be a mix of dense powder up high and corn down low. Frank.
At the intersection of the “X”, we intended to take the main gut straight down. On our approach, we noticed rock in that part of the line. Now we were staring down that very rock.
Frank took the jump into the rabbit hole.
Then me. Remember, I said there was powder?
We regrouped at the base of the line and prepared for the long ski out of the valley. It was hard not to turn around 100 times to keep looking at this fabulous mountain.
When we entered the forest once again, we were able to ski along the creek for quite a ways before snow became too sparse and we had to make our way into the trees. That led to some “adventure skiing”.
Eventually, we made our way back to the trail and then back to our car. It turns out X-rated was everything I’d hoped it would be for all these years. Now, I can’t wait to go back!
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