| Pikes Peak Y Couloir Ski Descent
Ski Descent of Y Couloir to 12,200' from Pikes Peak Summit
Climb of Y Couloir to Back to Summit
-Elevation Climbed: 1,800'
-Vert skied: 1,800'
-Mileage RT: 2.0 miles
- Round Trip Time: 2 hours 20 mins
Pikes North Face
Ski Descent of Y Couloir:
Stories of a freshly and heavily frosted Pikes Peak wafted across the state like the smell of a freshly grilled steak. The road opening to the summit was all that was left to get four skiers too converge on its summit, ready to sink teeth into the Y couloir. The day started at 10:15am with Jordan White, Goldenboy, Andy Dimmen and doumall skiing off the gigantic summit of the 'most famous mountain in the world.' Ha, that's a stretch.
Getting ready to ski off the true summit of Pikes Peak
The 'ski first-climb last' approach to this mountain is a unique experience as far as big mountain skiing goes. I'm not sold on it, as you start out with a cold furnace. Four feet of snow covered the summit where plows hadn't rolled; we all skied directly into the couloir with a brief dirt road crossing. The Y was well filled with spring snow and the freeze from the night was thorough. Unfortunately, the North facing couloir does warm up considerably in the afternoon and piles of frozen debris littered the cold slot. No powder or corn here, this was going to be a tough ski.
The turns following were well earned even before we started climbing back to the summit. I really struggled with the frozen ocean. We probably all had ideas of dropping the rock band in the middle of the route, but with these snow conditions it was out of the question. Jordan took firsts and therefore since he lead the route I will describe the ski in tandem with his pics. If you're looking for climbing info, feel free to skip to the next section 'Climb of Y Couloir' which is in a blue font as there are lots of ski pics:
JCWhite Skies the Y
To get around the rock band shortly before the split in the couloir, we headed east out of the main chute. Jordan found a narrow snow filled passage which required a new technique on skis for me, the duck walk. For those who haven't used it, you plant the tails of your skis into the snow up to the binding and repeat, similar to walking down steep stairs, it's effective. Once again, a straight-line through this obstacle was out of the question due to poor snow.
Below the cliff bands we used a ledge system to get back into the couloir proper. The snow was still rock solid, jump turns were the primary means of descent.
Back in the main couloir again, the snow began to soften a bit. Ski conditions improved but the couloir was still choked full of frozen debri.
We skied down to 12,200 or so where the terrain mellowed out.
Frank dropped off the summit second. He's the only one who didnt have a 'ridiculous skiing in the back seat skis sticking straight into the air' pic, so I guess he has some blackmail material:
I skied third:
Andy was last. This was his third consecutive day on the face and he brought a secret weapon. When he pulled his reverse camber 140 under foot skies out we all wondered what the heck he was thinking… he was merely enlightening us. The pintail and tip seemed to be the trick for overcoming the debris.
He skied the central part of the couloir directly above the rock band first and ended up getting cliffed out. His route involved a down climb involving some mixed terrain.
Climb of Y Couloir:
The climb ended up being my favorite part of the outing. The lower section involved some post holing but quickly we found a boot pack from climbers on Saturday.
This pic really shows the condition of the snow on the route.
Here is some beta on the rock band which guards the eastern branch of the Y. The red marks what looked to me like the preferred mixed route through the difficulty? Its probably 60 degrees. The blue circle marks what would be the most sensible ski drop from above IMO, it would be about 8 feet with the least amount of speed required to clear the rocks. The landing is in the mid 40 degree range and has a wide run out if you have similar snow coverage.
The rock band in the eastern branch of the y. Red mixed climb, blue ski drop
We followed the boot pack, which ascended a less technical section of mixed climbing. An axe or crampons are a wise choice for this, both would be ideal.
Approaching the mixed climbing
The group makes way through the mixed climbing
Finishing the final vert to he summit
Back on top
The route, red is ski, blue is climb:
Good to meet you guys, wish I could be out killing it like you are right now. Way to get after it!
A final note, after lengthy discussion, we all agreed skiing 14ers isnt fun at all, we just do it for internet glory