Length Roundtrip: 7 mi
Elevation Gain: 2,500’
Route: Southeast Slopes Variation
Skiers: RisinOrion and Kenny
I left work in Denver on Friday afternoon, returned to Boulder to grab my gear and hit the road. Leaving on Friday afternoon afforded me two things. First, I would get another night in a tent and second, I could get a head start on Kenny who is a faster and stronger hiker than me.
I arrived at the Dry Gulch “trailhead” at around 7:30 and found myself with enough time to hike just above the fenced off junkyard, setup camp and relax before sunset. I awoke at 3:15am and proceeded to brew a warm drink and cook up some Valhalla Mush (from the awesome One Pan Wonders backcountry recipe page). Shortly after 4:30 I headed out on the trail.
For those of you who have spent any time in Dry Gulch, you know that the name must have been a joke. This day was no exception and the first mile, though gentle in slope, was a mess of stream crossings and mud. At ~11k I encountered continuous snow. The route through the trees from here is undulating and circuitous.
Lots of this
I advise finding a safe place to cross to the south side of the creek as soon as possible. As of this day (6/25) there was one solid snow bridge and a handful of deadfall crossings. The creek is raging and ski pole-deep in many places.
Travel got a lot easier once I emerged from the trees. I also got a great view of the divide. Hagar Mountain and the Citadel came into view shortly after this.
Signs you're about to have a good day
It was shortly after this point that I heard the words “Gotcha!” come from my radio. I turned around to find Kenny had caught me (as anticipated) despite my 30min and .5mi head start.
The snow pack is still nothing less than incredible and the choices of routes and lines seemed endless. As there appeared to be a good amount of wet slide activity around the Boomerang Couloir (as well as a mid-route cornice), we agreed on a direct assault to the west of the prominent summit block.
The climb was fairly to moderately steep and we encountered a wide variety of snow conditions. There was everything from good kick-steppers to knee-deep post holers.
Just before 10am, the snow was ripening rapidly and we wasted little time at the top of the climb. Despite the numerous descent options, we elected to ski down the route we had climbed up. Kenny continued on to the true summit while I scoped out my rolling entrance to the descent.
The ever-present Torreys and Grays
Mt. of the Holy Cross
The descent was fantastic and we both got our fill of cream corn chowder. In places, particularly near the top, the line was delightfully steep. It was a very warm day and the snow was sloppy before we reached the bottom of the basin.
Kenny rockin' at the top
Kenny can be corny
Not a bad day's work
After a hot slog back through the trees and across the creek, I packed up my campsite and we headed to Idaho Springs for well-earned provisions. Dry Gulch had done it again. While the hikes here can be annoying, the payoff is always worth it! Go get some.