TBT: Rain Peak (6 May 2018)

I am not sure how Rain Peak became something on my list to ski. But, it did. I knew for years that there was a north-facing couloir that left short of the peak east of it’s summit. After viewing it from another mission on Keller Mountain, I knew that it looked like a quality ski.

I was on a “Brittany boot-camp” training mission to help myself prepare for my upcoming ski of Mount Rainier, so a 12.6 mile (4400’vert) slog through the Gore to ski Rain Peak didn’t phase me. Of course, I didn’t know that the trail leaving from Willow Creek Trailhead would have so many downed trees that would slow our progress significantly. Nevertheless, I managed to drag Frank along with me that day, on a mission he swore would be one of his last in the Gore.

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TR: Mount Powell Ski (8 April 2019)

Mount Powell is named after John Wesley Powell, the same explorer what Lake Powell is named after, who summited the peak way back in 1868. At 13,596 feet, Mount Powell is the highest peak in the Gore Range and barely makes the cut-off as a Bicentennial Summit in Colorado, ranking at 198th. Still, from certain aspects, and even for a short glimpse on I-70, Powell is inspiring and the multiple aspects allowing for ski descents have caught my attention for years. I’d stood just beneath it on our way to ski CC Rider Couloir on Peak C a few years back and it had been beckoning me back. But, getting there is a chore. Either you wait until Red Sandstone Road to Piney Lake is open to drive, or you go earlier and make the 8-mile journey to the lake via a snowmobile. The main problem with using a snowmobile is that by the time the snowpack has reached a more stable state in spring, the road is often partially melted out and gated from the bottom. You’d have to ride a long ways on dirt. But, not this year. Colorado has been rewarded with snow and Red Sandstone Road showed no signs of dirt, except for the first 100 feet. Mount Powell was calling louder than ever.

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TR: Keller Mountain North Couloir (27 April 2018)

Keller Mountain is one of many Gore Range peaks that beckon backcountry skiers from CO-9, south of Silverthorne. A north-facing couloir strikes down from Keller Mountain’s ridge, and I studied this couloir every time I traveled between Steamboat and back. I meant to ski the Keller Mountain North Couloir a few years back while researching routes for our guidebook. But, the timing never quite worked out. So, there it stood – waiting. But 2018 is a good year for the Gore Range. And it was time to go ski that line that struck me during all those trips to the northern part of our state.

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TBT TR: East Partner Peak (Peak V) – 10 April 2006

East Partner Peak (Peak V) holds a special place in my heart. It was my first “Gore Range Mission”, and I skied it back in 2006 with some of my favorite backcountry skiing partners – Mark Cavaliero and Dave Bourassa. Since over 12 years have passed since we skied this route, I don’t remember exact details. In fact, only some of the details came alive when I started sorting through the pictures again. But, I do remember we started in the dark, and I remember it was a long day – probably the longest day I’d had in the backcountry up to that point. I also remember the exhilaration and excitement I felt exploring a new area on skis, and the potential for lines everywhere.

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TR: West Partner Peak (Peak U) – 25 April 2018

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.

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TBT: Peak C – CC Rider Couloir (14 June 2016)

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. Many of the peaks are not named on topo maps, and Peak C is among them. 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.

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TBT: Powder Skiing on Vail Pass

This past summer, while looking for photos of Radiobeacon Mountain, I came across this series of shots from then my good friend Dave Bourassa and I hit up Vail Pass on one of those perfect powder days in March of 2006. Back when I hucked like a mad woman, before I had 2 of my 3 ACL surgeries, before I had even met Frank, when I rocked the Volkl Mantra, and when some friends called me “Pink Pants”, for obvious reasons. I hope you enjoy the Throwback!

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