| Pikes Peak - Railroad Couloir ski and snow climb
After seeing doumall's TR of his Y Couloir ski descent from last weekend, I was motivated to ski Pikes. I and a friend (PJ, aka 14ers.com lurker Saddlebagger) left Los Alamos, NM at 3am this morning and drove up to Pikes Peak. We got to the toll road entrance around 7:40am and saw:
Luckily, they started letting people up around 8:40am (not 9).
We got to the summit first, got booted up, and headed for the Railroad Couloir (entrance about 100 ft. to the E of the railroad terminus). We decided on the Railroad Couloir since I wasn't sure about doing the "duck walk" described in doumall's TR. I was on tele and PJ had twin tips, so neither of us was down with the duck walk, as cool as it looked.
We clicked in around 9:30am
This is what we saw:
Chomping at the bit:
Getting into rhythm:
The snow was firm up high but not bulletproof. You had to ski it aggressively or else it could knock you around. As we got lower down, the snow got softer and softer until it was silky smooth below about 12500'.
PJ working it:
Looking all the way down to the Bottomless Pit:
PJ having fun:
PJ having more fun, with whole route in background:
We skied to 12100' according to my altimeter watch (calibrated on summit) and started the climb back up around 10:30am.
Luckily, a snow climber went up right before us (the only other person we saw all day down there) and put in a bootpack. However, we were postholing 1-2ft. for about the first 300 vertical ft.
Within 40 minutes, the sky was completely cloudy and we still had 1000' vertical feet to go.
PJ nearing the top. Graupel was coming down hard and fast.
We had ax and crampons but didn‘t need to use them since ski boots in the bootpack worked well.
We got back to the summit around 12:10pm. Summit shock. Just like in Kevin Baker's TR posted on 5/13/07, we also got our picture taken by a tourist. Another tourist observed that there aren't many skiers in Arkansas.
The bowl between 11800' and 13000' next to the road was practically bumped up. I dropped PJ off at 13000' and picked him up at 11800'. He said it was sweet hero snow.
It was a zoo down there like Summit County on a winter weekend. This group had lapped it 4 times already.
It was a great day, looking forward to getting out again soon.
Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):