Elevation Gain: 2,798'
Paleo Menu: 1lb of tuna, blended fruit, craisins. Bill ate something non-paleo I'm sure
Arriving a bit later than planned to the currently 4WD trailhead, I quickly pack up and get going. With my 7.5lb ski boots on my pack, I decided to go with my light weight trail runners to save some weight on my feet. For the most part, the trail is easy enough with only a few rocky sections as you approach the the upper stream crossings, so they worked well. The never ending switchbacks were heartbreaking, as you never seem to get very far on them, but waste a bunch of time and energy getting only a few feet higher up. There is little to no snow on the first 3 or so miles, until you get to the first upper stream crossing. Made decent time to there despite the 'half my weight + pack', at 2.5 hrs for 3.5 miles. Then, the snow is mostly continuous after that. Silly me doesn't transition into my ski boots and skis right then and there, and I end up soaking my feet in the snow. Once I get to the upper headwall section, it becomes apparent that there's no getting around the transition. Not that putting on skis helps in the just starting to freeze snow, I still sink and ice up my bindings and skis. That last mile took another 1.75 hours! Ugg, what a sh*t show! Oh, how happy I am to see Bill's Taj Mahal of tents glowing by my headlamp! I quickly set up my Bibler Tripod bivy, eat my dinner and crash for about 4 hours of sleep.
Day 2: Kit Carson
Elevation Gain: 2,900'
Route: Outward Bound Couloir
Other TR: SchralpTheGnar
Sleep: ~4 hrs
Paleo Menu: 1lb of tuna, blended fruit, craisins, GF CC cookies. Rob had Gu, not sure what Bill ate.
Partners: BillMiddlebrook and ShralpTheGnar
Since Rob wrote up a KC TR and Bill a route description, I'll just give a brief description of the days events and put up some pretty pics.
"Hey Bill and Otina, are you awake?" - Rob. Ummm yeah... Rob was a little earlier than we had expected. But as he came bearing the gift of Starbucks coffee, all was forgiven as I drink the nectar of morning! Mmmm. We make ready, and get on the trail about 5:30am, right on schedule.
Sunrise by Willow Lake
A clear morning greets us as we skin/boot up to the base of the OB. The storm snow is punchy and we break through it on occasion to the softer snow beneath. We take turns building the booter, but eventually, about halfway up I take over until the summit. Not that my ghost elf self created much of a booter!
Approaching OB, Adams in background
Starting up the OB
Pano from OB couloir
Hurray for the shady couloir!
Another look down the OB
Summit bound, no breaks till summit!
Traversing the face
Rob and Bill following with a gorgeous back-drop
Pano from Summit
The mighty Crestones
Challenger's looking good for tomorrow!
Bill tearing up the face of KC
Me on the upper face - Photo Credit: Bill
Bill first to drop into the OB
Rob dropping into the OB
Rob shredding the OB
Me on the upper OB - Photo Credit: Bill
Bill sending it
Skiing with a view, never gets old!
Me on the lower OB - Photo Credit: Bill
Lower apron of soft corn
Looking back at a great ski
And now we learn about how Rob chose his screen name...
What's Rob doing? Oh just Schralping the Gnar! - Photo Credit: Bill
When Rob and Bill left in the early afternoon, I dug out a better camp for my bivy-tent, ate my dinner, and relaxed. I had thought that Prakash, Colin and a bunch of others would be showing up sometime that early evening to camp for some 13ers the next day. But when they didn't show up, I decided to take a nap. Well that nap quickly turned into a long sleep.
Day 3: Challenger Point
Elevation Gain: 2,572' (5,244' loss)
Route: Kirk Couloir
Sleep: ~12 hrs
Paleo-ish Menu: blended fruit, craisins, dates, GF CC cookies, 1/2lb of tuna, 1/2lb Sonic Bacon Double cheeseburger (minus bun), tots on route to South Colony TH after pack out.
6am wake-up call... "Hey Otina" - Colin. Turns out Colin, Aaron and Scott only made it to the 2nd stream crossing and called it, setting up tents right there. Since it was windy all night, I saw no reason to get up early! So after the guys take off for their objectives, I get ready and head out on the same trail at 7am. Intermittent clouds and sun accompany me on my trek to the base of the Kirk. No real rush, this snow will take a while to warm up. The booter is firm and I barely sink at all after the hard freeze.
Approaching the Kirk
Mmmm snow cookie approaching the Kirk
So up the Kirk I went, noting the slope angle and narrowness of the couloir. This will be an exciting ski, if it doesn't warm up! I'm wearing almost all my gear and my warm gloves too. Such the polar opposite to yesterday, when I was down to base layers!
Base of Kirk Couloir
In the steep of the Kirk
Approaching the summit, I notice that my whippet is nekid. Darn, I join the ranks of all other whippet owners, having lost my cover!
A look over to the Avenue, and KC and Crestones
As I'm sitting "patiently" on the summit, eating and prepping for the descent, I notice a wave of storm clouds coming from the west. Frack, the snow really isn't going to warm up, AND I may get precipitated upon! Ski now, no more waiting. See I'm not that patient when it comes to skiing, I really just want to ski. So I ski on the summit cornice, and then around some rocks and down the face back to the Kirk.
Ah teeth chattering hardpack! About halfway down the Kirk, making as many skittering jump turns as my lil feet can handle, I notice something orange in my booter! Ah, there's my whippet cover! Yippie!
Snow off the summit
About to drop the Kirk
The snow remains hard all the way down to the basin. I get about 3 feet of corn, then it turns to slush. Bugger. Back to camp, where Aaron snowshoes by as I'm packing up the stupid big pack. I stop by their camp on the way down, where Aaron gives me a couple pieces of pre-cooked bacon. Mmmmm!
I ski as much of the snow as is prudent, with the last few switchbacks to the stream being kinda silly and already partially melted out. Then it's back to skis and boots on pack, trail runners on feet for the remainder of the hike.
Back at the trail head, I'm greeted by a most welcome sight! Someone (I can only assume Rob), has left me a beer on my tailgate! If I didn't already have my permanent ski-grin on my face, this surely would have caused a smile. Thanks Rob!
Yay a present!
Day 4: Humboldt
Elevation Gain: 4,277'
Route: SE Flank
Sleep: ~6 hrs
Paleo-ish Menu: blended fruit, craisins, dates, GF CC cookies, and another bacon double burger (minus bun) from Carls Jr on way home, then second dinner at home of .75 lb of grass-fed beef and Cantonese sauce.
I'm pretty tired as I make it to the 4WD trail head of South Colony Lakes. So I have to turn down the offer to hang out by the fire of some other Humboldt hikers. Just a transition my truck for sleep for the next ~6 hours. I get an alpine cracking start of 5am, as I walk up the trail/road. Not much snow at the start, then just some along the shady left side. I watch my GPS and make the turn into the trees at about 11.8K. Then the fun started... the snow isn't continuous and there's tons of dead fall. But I find a couple pretty waterfalls along the way. I veer to the east (right) on the ascent to the base of the snow gully, since there was less snow, and I had already put the skis on my pack.
First view of SE Flank full of snow
A pretty waterfall
Once out of the trees, the work of climbing the remaining 2.5K to the summit begins. Mostly firm snow greets me, though it is warming up in the sun, and balls up under my crampons. Oh the agony of the last 1,000'. I was tired, and it took all I had to keep going up. I was looking at my watch, and started up the internal mantra... 800'....700'....600'... on and on... Soon I had to go down to 10's of feet, uphill progress was slowing...
At 160' left, the graupel/snow storm whipped into my face, and upward progress really stopped. Uggg, second summit of Humboldt - same view - nothing
At base of snowy SE Flank Gully
A look down the Gully
Looking up the remainder of gully
Eventually I make it to the summit and hide in the snowed in wind shelter. I'm freezing, but determined to wait a bit. Today I would be patient! Well, it paid off. After the only other summit visitor left, the clouds lifted, and I got the view that I had missed last time. Sweet! Though now I worried that my corn snow had refrozen.
Ah, the Crestones and Kit Carson massif
Kit Carson Masssif
The wind from the fast approaching storm pushes me along the summit ridge over to my descent down the snow gully. Firm snow greets me, as I find my way through the upper rock maze. But after a while, the wind and snow from above abate, and corn snow is my treat for waiting!
Skiing in a bit of a storm
View back up to summit, once I hit corn snow
Roller ball with a view
Dirty snow turns at the bottom
After some fun turns ripping down the gully with increasingly tired legs, I enter the trees of doom. Bottomless slush snow, bare ground and fallen trees await. This time I take the skiers right option (west), and find more continuous snow than the other side of the drainage. Though ski-pack rodeo ensues for some of the steeper dry parts. Midway through the trees, the skies unleash a graupel storm, and I tighten up the jacket around my neck. This storm would off and on dump graupel and snow all the way down the road and at the trail head as I was driving away. Tired but satisfied after another successful long weekend of skiing! 14 14ers skied in the past 4 weeks!
My GPS Tracks on Google Maps (made from a .GPX file upload):
Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):
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