| Mount Buckskin(13,865 feet) - January 10th
This week hasn't exactly been the most fruitful period for working on my winter agenda but hey, it still beats working for a week. Will Wednesday be better to me?
The alarm interrupts my slumber at 5am, a much earlier 5am than it seemed previously this week. Hopefully today will yield better results. The forecast, 33 degrees and 3-13mph winds(do you really expect me to believe that?) at 13,000+ feet, looks better than previous days. Buckskin it is.
After a quick stop in Fairplay, I'm driving up the almost clear Kite Lake Road just after 8am. Where exactly do we want to start this bugger? That looks good. Nope, it's someone's driveway. Unless I want to drive a good bit of the way back towards Alma, there's no place I feel comfortable parking the vehicle along the road. Turning back around, again, I drive for Paris Mill. There should be a safe route up the North Slopes.
At 11,000 feet, I pull into the Kite Lake Road winter trailhead and quickly put on the necessary items for my alpine start of 8:45am. Yes, I'm procrastinating….we'll discuss that later. Snowshoes are necessary for about five minutes then it's quite the interesting challenge to connect snow patches if you have to really want to keep them on. Along the way, a fracture line of Buckskin's north slopes shows evidence of an avalanche but the slide path is nowhere to be seen.
Kite Lake arrives a short time later. Unfortunately, it brings out some very unwelcome devils. Come on, the forecast didn't say a thing about wind gusts. Why do I still trust meteorologists? Time to move, it‘s getting a bit nippy sitting here and this mountain isn't going to climb itself. I just have to avoid those lower slopes and this north face will work. Working towards Democrat, I ascend high enough to avoid possible danger then make my way across the plateau-like section towards the telephone poles. Alright, I certainly haven't gotten the sleep I'd like outside of last night, but this steep section isn't that long, just a quick grunt and….is that really the summit? Can't be. Maybe it is, the wind has definitely kicked it up a notch.
Sticking to lower angled terrain, I head far left to gain the gentle slope. Into the familiar pattern, eighty steps, stop take five seconds, and repeat. Great, that is the summit! Hold on, I need the heavy jacket first. The summit ridge is nice and gentle giving me Buckskin a little after 1pm. The mountain gods don't seem pleased by my presence so it's a quick bite to eat and a summit photo then I'm gone.
Going back goes quickly until I catch a quick glissade. Aw man, I've surrounded myself by willow fields. Apparently the easy exit was just a mirage. Nightmarish postholing ensues for next the quarter-mile. When am I ever going to learn that this is not really the shortest way out? I finally regain the road and hurry back making the truck a little after 4pm.
That wasn't so bad. What's next?