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|Conditions Information||Posted By||Posted On|
|2015-06-30||Route: Standard SE gully from Cathedral Lake
Info: Snow free until the upper basin below the gully. The gully itself is melted out in the bottom 3rd leaving the upper 2/3rds with snow. Decent steps kicked into the snow. I ascended/descended in trail running shoes without traction but would have appreciated micro spikes or lightweight crampons and an ice ax. I used three tent stakes duct taped together as my "ice ax" setup and that was much appreciated for peace of mind on the descent.
|2015-06-21||Route: Pearl Couloir & SE Gully
Info: We started up the Pearl Couloir at about 5:30 and headed down the standard route around 9:00. The snow starting up the couloir was very firm. It was starting to get a little too soft around 7:30 as we were exiting the couloir. The couloir was kind of a mess (lots of remnants of previous slides/rockfall and a dirt path running down the center) but still fine for climbing. Also, there is big cornice hanging over the top of the couloir still. Some in our group elected to veer left and then scramble up to the ridge, while others exited just to the left of the cornice. The descent down the gully on the standard route was soft but still doable around 9:30 or so. Temps on Sunday were pretty warm though (a low of 39 degrees overnight, I believe, with clear skies and a light wind). The ridge was clear of snow. We did not bring snowshoes and did not regret that decision. There was some postholing above 12,500 or so but it would‘t have been worth carrying snowshoes.
|2015-06-21||Route: SE Gully and Pearl
Info: Trail free of snow until ~13k ft. At this point, drifts of snow could be used to avoid walking on the talus laden trail. The basin proper, where the gully is, still has snow coverage but the bottom of the gully is starting to thaw out and there were telltale browny bits starting to peak through. 8am on the summit and snow going up/down was perfect with this timing. Oh, and btw, the top of the Pearl Couloir had a huge cornice on it. Quite a shock to my friends who didn‘t see it until they were about half way up. See pictures, with captions...Hope this helps. P.S. the Creek flowing from the lake was huge...So consider staying above the lake and avoiding the creek altogether. The last picture is showing a bit of bushwacking, but shows the rocky bench with the trail that you want to be on. This is a good 200 ft or more higher than the Lake.
|2014-05-31||Route: SE gully & Pearl couloir
Info: Did Cathedral A on Saturday with a few others. Trail mostly dry for about ~2 miles towards the lake. Crosses several significant avy slides (old) - snapped trees, debris, etc. Standard route SE gully is filled with wet slide debris, but was firm enough around 7-8am to make the ridge. Since SE gully didn‘t look skiable, two of us traversed to Pearl couloir (short, but very airy class 4ish traverse on typical Elk rock). Getting into Pearl was very difficult once the snow softened past 9am (and the time was lost on the traverse). Incredibly beautiful line, but ski conditions were challenging due to very unsupportive snow. I would advise against attempting the peak unless there is a solid overnight freeze. Wet slide potential currently is very high. Pic 1- Standard route gully Pic 2 - avy debris Pic 3 - entering Pearl via the ramp from the ridge Pic 4 - Pearl
|2014-04-11||Route: South Ridge
Info: We were able to skin from the truck in Ashcroft to the bottom of the couloir on the standard route. Cramponed up the standard coulour in decent conditions and left skis at the top. Booted the ridge (mixed snow and rock) to the summit. Skied from the top of the couloir back to the road. Great day in the Elks! Pic1 - Heading up to Cathedral Lake, Malamute Peak in the distance Pic2- Upper Basin near the Lake Pic3 - Approaching the couloir we climbed/skied Pic4 - Descending from the summit...a look a conditions along the ridge, with Castle in the distance
|2012-06-03||Route: Standard gully to S. Ridge
Info: We did not need flotation. Trail is 99% dry until above the lake. There are snowfields after that, which were mostly supportive in the morning (and afternoon). There is a trail; watch for cairns. Even if you start postholing, you can find rocks to walk on most of the way. The gully is about 1/2 melted out, but the exposed scree/dirt isn‘t too bad. Snow is avoidable on the ridge and was a non-issue for us. Be wary for rock fall. The photo shows the gully in the morning.
|2012-05-20||Route: Standard route
Info: Climbed Cathedral Today with Grover. I‘m sorry to hear you got turned back yesterday but today was absolutely fantastic! I ran up the trail to the lake around 6 pm yesterday and saw Bob and Matt there. Since I was hanging out in Castle Creek all yesterday I didn‘t get the word they were going to be there. I stashed all my gear off the trail and headed back down to meet Grover at the TH. We started from the trailhead around 5am today and was at the base of the steep gully around 8:15. The snow was actually great for cramponing up despite one small 5 foot area of bare scree which posed no problems. The ridge above the gully was snow free although we did climb up one small section of snow that can be avoided. The summit views were beautiful and rivaled Sneffels for me as my favorite. Calm and warm sunny day. The descent down the gully was slow and tedious but not bad at all. Just be ready to arrest if you slip (which I did for one small 5 foot section). Who ever told me that the angle of this gully is 48 degrees, you are spot on. Slightly steeper than 45 but not quite 50. The trail itself to the top of the final steep switchbacks was snow free but the area around the lake still held some soft snow that is best walked around far to the north of the lake on dry but willow infested terrain to reach the upper basin. Upper basin was about 75% covered in snow but very firm in the morning...even pretty firm around noon...the fresh snow yesterday made the snowy areas very white and bright. Lake is still frozen over but will likely melt out within the next 2 weeks. All in all, a great climb that will only hold good snow for at most another 2 weeks. The small 5 foot scree bare spot will quickly begin to melt and the couloir will melt from the base upwards. So go do it now!!!
|2012-05-19||Route: Cathedral Lake TH
Info: Sorry, not a complete conditions report. The fab Fincutters and I attempted Cathedral via the standard route, but stopped short of the standard gully due to a snow storm. ~3" of snow fell in 20-30 min and we could not see the gully (or Cathedral Peak) at all. Given that the ridge is class 3 and the storm only seemed to be getting worse, waited for a bit, then made the call to head back to camp. Althought tedious, no traction or snowshoes needed on the way up to the lake. Snowshoes and gaitors are probably a must in the afternoon near and above the lake. Passed 2 skiers heading up, just below Cathedral Lake, and did not see them at all, even after leisurely packing up my camp and chatting with their buddy who twisted his ankle on the trail, and was patiently waiting in the parking lot. So, assuming ski conditions were stellar. All gullies on every peak (from that view point and while we could still see) looked completely filled in. Lightly snowed 3/4ths of the way back to the TH. Pics #1 and #2 shows conditions at 6:19a - taken just above Cathedral Lake Pic #3 shows it snowing lightly at 6:48a - Cathedral Lake is behind and below Bob and Kate Pic #4 7:00a - Cathedral Peak is behind Bob and Kate
|2012-05-12||Route: Standard East couloir
Info: Great weather despite the forecast. (Well, the hike to the lake the evening before was no fun.) Trail is almost entirely dry for the first 2.5 miles or so from the TH. For the last 1/2 or 3/4 mile to the lake there is some posthole snow, but also a little bit of muddy trail. Approaching the couloir past the lake, it‘s a mix of moraine-ish rock-hopping and some snow travel. (Coming back to the lake in the late morning, you MAY want snowshoes. We managed without.) The couloir was in decent shape. We started up the couloir a little late (8-ish?), so it was a little soft (and mashed potato-y on the way down). We set up a handline with ropes/pickets for the trip down; these covered the top two-thirds almost; probably made things a bit safer and faster, but wouldn‘t have been too bad without them. The climb above the couloir was tougher than the couloir due to the little bit of new snow that made the loose rock slippery. Plus, there were a couple of little snow fields. I wish I had kept my crampons on for that portion; had them on for the trip down. Photos are 3 views from the same location on the way down: 1) Wider shot that shows mixed snow and rock on the approach 2) Closer shot of the couloir (the right branch) and the other (left) branch that you don‘t want to take. That left one avalanched (wet slab, I hear) while I was about half-way up and some folks were still down at the base; they weren‘t too concerned. Well, one decided not to continue because it freaked her out. 3) Tighter shot showing 3 of our group descending after successfully summiting.
|2011-06-11||Route: South Ridge
Info: We encountered snow around 11,300 feet. It was continuous all the way to the top of the couloir with the exception of one short, steep, and nasty dirt hill about 1/4 of a mile from the lake. This is where the summer trail switchbacks up through a rock field. The snow was firm in the morning, allowing for quick travel without flotation. Once atop the couloir, you still have about 500 feet of Elk talus to contend with. There is a faint trail to follow along with intermittent cairns and some nominal snow fields. A fall on the snowy sections would not be catastrophic as there is a talus bench at the bottom of the runout (maybe 50 feet below). My biggest concern was encountering a wallowfest on the way back to the trailhead. Despite all of the snow and the warm temps, we were able to make it back to dry ground without using flotation. Image #1: The dirt hill. Image #2: Looking down. Image #3: The remaining 500 feet. Image #4: Overview of the route.