| Repeater Peak NE Face
This is one of those mountains I have looked at for a long time without really being sure what it was called. "Repeater Peak" sits just north of Mosquito Pass in the heart of the Mosquito Range. Its unofficial name comes from the radio facility which dominates the summit. Last January I noticed a natural avalanche on the NE face of Repeater from Hwy 9 and was inspired to ski it when the snowpack stabilized.
Repeater Peak, NE face, Jan 2011
Well, 7 months later I got around to skiing this face, on July 14th. I meant to put up a TR sooner but the week went by fast. Hopefully it will still be useful for someone. I imagine conditions haven't changed much.
Killingcokes and I drove up from the Leadville side the week previous, in hopes of skiing Repeater. But it was late in the day and the weather was getting sketchy. So on Thursday I drove from my house in Blue River to to the 2wd trailhead west of Alma. I could have driven farther, but sometimes you just feel like hiking instead of driving up the mountain.
Sun cups are cool. Like mini mountains.
I started up the road at 6 a.m. as the sun was beginning to rise. There was no wind--a rare treat in this part of the world. I hiked up to the London Mine, enjoying the solitude and cool morning air with the constant sound of rushing water all around. The road was blocked by snow just after the mine. Looks like it will be a few weeks before it melts out. There is a ton of water in the upper basin, both from recent rainfall and the ongoing snowmelt. I have never seen the Mosquitos look so green.
Looking east at Repeater from the London Mine.
After I got to the notch between London Mountain's west ridge and Repeater peak's east ridge, I started up the grassy slopes and ran into a colony of pikas. I had fun shooting pictures of them for a while and then continued up.
This ridge is an easy climb, even with 35 pounds of skiing gear. It was a rare cloudless, sunny, windless day and I took my time enjoying the climb, watching the views open up to the east.
I arrived at the summit a little after 8 a.m. and checked out the radio facility. While not exactly a pristine wilderness setting, I will say that the summit is unique. There is a low, sturdy stone building, several solar panels, 2 massive propane tanks, and a radio antenna. I can only imagine the winter winds that howl across this ridge.
After finding this sign on the door, I decided to ski down the NE face a little bit before taking a rest.
I transitioned to skis and dropped in directly underneath the antennas. One hard ski cut underneath the roll revealed firm, mature summer snow perfectly softened by the sun.
After a couple of turns I stopped and sat on a sun warmed rock for breakfast. I always try to savor this moment when summer skiing. Looking out over the haze of South Park, I imagined the hundreds of miles of hot, humid plains beyond and reflected on how lucky I was to be at the top of a snow covered mountain with skis on my feet, in mid-July. The mountains are good to us.
I made some fun turns in near-perfect corn down fall line on the skier's right side of the bowl, then traversed over to the middle of the face, where some rocks were exposed. The snow, although runnelled, was in pretty good shape and I decided to boot back up to the top of the face and get some extra turns.
A few minutes of climbing later I reached the cornice. There was a perfectly flat ledge just below it to sit on and enjoy the view. from the looks of the apron below the face, the cornice has been bombing the slope for quite some time now.
The cornice is still pretty big.
I skied down next to the rocks and looked for a way through to the central face. I found a tiny strip of snow between rocks to slot through and positioned myself in the middle of the face, then skied fall line all the way down to where the snow ended. There were some pretty ridiculous runnels and bumps and cornice chunks, but the snow was soft and the turns were fun.
I booted up some more snow on the lower southeast ridge of Mosquito Peak and ripped a few extra turns down a fun little spine.
Then I linked a few ridiculously small snow patches on the way down to Oliver Twist Lake, stopping to shoot photos of a cool old mining structure perched on the edge of a cliff. There is such a profound sense of history and place in this zone. I always enjoy exploring here.
After transitioning back to shoes at the lake, I hiked out along the road back down to my truck. Made it down by 11 o'clock, without seeing anyone else all morning. I think I got around 1500 feet of skiing in. Not bad for a hot July morning. The endless ski season continues..
Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):