Mosquito Range GOING OFF! Four fun snow climbs and descents.
Good afternoon everyone!
Following twelve days of climbing, hiking and snowboarding in the Sierras; I said "goodbye" to the rest of the Peaks for Peace team in Lee Vining, CA, hoping to make it back to Colorado in time to snowboard some of the apparently amazing spring conditions. Then I said, "Could you jump my car, please?" Then I asked, "Can you call a towing service? I just blew up my battery..." 24 hours later, following an unexpected stay in Bishop, I said goodbye to everyone again and drove the 1000 miles home.
My first two days back in Colorado were nothing short of spectacular. Warm temperatures and deep snow combined for all-time riding conditions. On Thursday, I met up with Andy Dimmen with the goal of completing a unique enchainment of high peaks in the Northern Mosquito Range. We were successful in putting together a big day, linking together descents of the north faces of Democrat, Clinton, and Drift Peaks. All together we were on the trail for 12 hours, covering 15 miles and 7,000 vertical feet.
On Friday, I headed out solo to tour around the Arkansas Basin. While my original intent was to climb and snowboard Mount Arkansas' incredible Northeast Couloir, it was not in condition - wiped clean by a natural wet avalanche. Disappointed, I ascended further into the basin, discovering two steep north faces on par with my original objective. I ended up piecing together a climb up Mount Tweto's steep north side, including an exciting rock and cornice move to top out on the summit ridge. As the snow was heating up, I descended a somewhat mellow line to the northeast of the summit and was surprised by the quality of the route finding and coverage. After finishing with Tweto, I contoured up and around into a different cirque climbed to the high point of the unnamed ridge between Mount Arkansas and Tweto. The northwest orientation of the line had preserved the quality of the snow - it was totally rip-able. I found myself making some of the biggest and fastest turns on my backcountry career down the short but oh so sweet and steep line. The repetition that I have been able to experience on steep lines this Spring has started to manifest in personal progression - I feel great out there right now and am having a blast riding hard!
Today I'm hanging out above the heat in Dillon, letting my legs recover a bit from yesterday (I rode Bierdstadt, Square Top, and Argentine Peaks, another beautiful sunny day...trip report to follow) Tomorrow I plan on heading back into the hills to enjoy the sunshine and attempt a peak or two before the weather changes too much. Enjoy the photos and video of the past couple - they were days to remember!
Low hanging clouds create a sense of anticipation and mystery on the flanks of Mt. Lincoln
Andy climbs out of Montgomery Basin on Democrat's snowy north face
Rime-covered religion greeted us at Democrat's Summit
Andy pauses above his exit line, gathering himself during a 2000' descent
Then it was time to climb again. Mount Traver's east ridge was snow covered and skin-able, all the way to Clinton Peak's Summit
The powerful Elk Mountains mark the western horizon
Andy rips turns down the North Face of Clinton Peak. The partly cloudy and breezy conditions kept the snow from softening too much during our three peak day
Finding the exit line at the bottom of Clinton
The Northwest Face of Drift Peak was our final destination for the day
But she didn't come easily; requiring a few hours of sloppy and physically taxing bootpacking to reach her summit
Looking back at our tracks along Mayflower Ridge
Andy smiles as the sun falls beneath the clouds and illuminates our final summit of the day
And enjoys some wintry turns down Drift's upper flanks
My private playground on Friday; the southern cirques of Mount Arkansas
This self-portrait captures the emotion of the day pretty well - thrilled to be doing what I'm doing. Truly blessed, lucky, and appreciative of every awesome moment. Thanks everyone!
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