| Missouri Mountain, NE Couloir
4/14/07 - Missouri Mountain 14,073'
North Couloir via Vicksburg TH
9 Miles 4,400'
6.5 hours up, 1.5 down
Frank, Scott, Luke, Forrest (HikeforTurns)
Ok, well I've lurked on this site for a long time. I have taken a lot of good beta on here, and decided to start giving a little back. ( I guess I cant get my fill with online forums.. ) This is a little old, but its the last time I got out, so here it is:
It felt good to return to 14,000' this weekend. I hadn't been that high since last August. Suprisingly it felt alot like 13,000';) . After reading a few trip reports of peaks in the area recently, (Huron, Belford) Missouri's north facing chutes caught my interest. I wasnt the only one with that thought and soon the plan was born. Rather last minute we made plans on friday afternoon to meet up at the Vicksburg TH and give it a go. The CAIC forecast for the Sawatch zone looked favorable over the front range for doing some skiing up high. With temps around 5 degrees overnight, and light winds combined with some recent light snowfall and bluebird skies made for the perfect combination.
We arranged to meet up in Vicksburg, which I reached around 7:30am. The road had afew inches of new snow, but was easily passable in my truck (it would be gone by the afternoon). The guys I was meeting were running a little late, and we didnt end up leaving the TH until around 8:30am. I was a little concerned about our later start, but cool temps and a north facing aspect were in our favor. We left the TH, two splitboarders and two on AT setups. The new snow was very helpful on the lower switchbacks, as it provided just enough for a smooth skin without too much effort spent trailbreaking. ( at least I think so, Frank broke trail up to the creek crossing. ). We made pretty quick progress on up towards treeline, the snow got deeper across the creek, but it was firm enough underneath, maybe 12" on top. Luckily it didnt get to heavy by the afternoon, as we were able to ski the majority of the descent without trouble.
Once we reached treeline the views opened up and we were greeted by Mt Belfords interesting looking options. Once again, the new snow was really helping us out, as we were able to skin the entire valley to the base of the climb. I'd imagine prior to this it was a mix of rock and snow patches, several times we were skinning on afew inches covering the rocks and grass. It wasnt long before we were greeted by views of our intended line. Frank mentioned how in Dawsons guide it points out the farthest point west along the ridge is the summit, when actually its more towards the middle. Point 13,784' actually has many nice looking lines as well. Eventually we made it to the head of the valley and took stock of our ascent options. We found the lowest angled slope in the bowl, and set a zig zagging track up it. Once it got to steep to make skinning effective, we decided to boot pack the remainder to the ridgeline. We ended up gaining the ridge inbetween 13,930' and Missouri Mtn.
Views of Missouri's North Face were impressive, as we were all drooling at our intended lines. It was here that travel started to get more challenging. We stayed on the ridge crest for awhile, until things got a little to steep for a direct climb. Here we elected to traverse the more hardpacked western side of the ridge, maybe 20' below the ridge crest. At one point it got a little firm and we used axes for safer travel. Just below the summit we encountered some slabby snow with decent exposure and decided it best to ski across, minimizing our time spent on the slope. This took up more time, but was effective. The ridge ended up taking more time than anticipated, but we eventually summited around 3:30pm. We held a decent pace on the ascent, and we all traveled roughly the same speed, Frank busting trail for the majority. Views from the summit were grand, as most peaks were still wearing their winter blankets. After a brief rest, we geared up for the descent. We were able to ski off the summit, and down one of two main chutes that head down the north face. Skiing one at a time, we had a safe point halfway down the chute, then continued down to the base. The minimal wets slide activity we had seen on se aspects was not present here, just boot to knee deep pow!
After regrouping midway down, we finished off with more light pow down to the base of the bowl. Conditions were great, this was the finest 14er descent I've done yet. After hanging out for a bit and enjoying our signatures, we continued down to the valley below, getting in a few good bonus turns in the process. With one last look at the line, we continued on down. The snow had thickened up a bit, but we were able to ski the remainder of the descent down to the bottom of the switchbacks. A short stroll down to the river and across the bridge and we were done. Happy faces and laughs were exchanged. We went our seperate ways, myself back to Denver and the other guys to CB. Just aother fantastic day in the hills.
TGR report with more pics from gb(in case you havent seen them)(url)