| Winter Begins: Antero Summit Ski Descent
Baldwin Creek Jeep Trail at 9,420'
Ascent of West Gully to South Ridge
Ski Descent of West Ridge to West Gullies
-First day of winter (i.e. shortest day of the year)
-Elevation climbed: 4,849'
-Vert skied: 4,750'
-Mileage RT: 10.0 miles
- Round trip time: 10 hours
Route: climb red, ski blue, downclimb light blue. Image was not taken this day and is from the summitpost antero page
Ascent of Antero:
Jordan and I met up in Denver and made the drive up to the Baldwin Creek Jeep road. The Elk were stoked on the fresh snow in the area and the fact that's its finally winter.
Access is plowed to the trailhead where we started the slog up the long 3 mile jeep trail at 8 am. A snowshoe track from the previous day lasted for a half mile or so, then we got to break a trail between 6 and 12" deep the remainder of the way to treeline.
Our first good look at the SW side of Antero held little promise of an aesthetically pleasing ski descent.
But since that's not really what it's about, we pushed on for the top. A break of treeline coincided with a brisk introduction to the brutal wind chill on the day.
We used the gully the road switchbacks across on the lower west slopes for the ascent. Cross loading on climbers left side of the gully dictated a well spaced ascent between us as well as the wise decision to hug the right side as to not undercut the mass. Cronin looked especially sweet.
Ah, winter is finally here.
We were forced to boot the remaining vertical to the summit from around 12,800'. This being my first ski haul up a big peak this year wasn't helping me much. The wind effected slabby BS snow and talus impregnated scree was kicking my butt. Luckily Jordan performed most of the booting through here, although his stride is similar to Andre the Giant, which makes it pretty difficult to use his steps. He was completing a pretty ambitious week of hiking, the dude is strong, but even this crap had him on his knees occasionally.
When we finally got a look at the summit ridge from the false summit, we decided taking the skis to the top would be worth it.
The wind was as expected in winter, 30-40 mph sustained with gusts of 50+. Wind chill of -30 to -35 F. Mmmmm, mountain warfare. The wind was creating enough friction along the west side of the ridgeline to strip electrons from the rocks which were stored in the snow plume above our heads. Jordan got zapped a few times in the hands and legs through his poles; apparently they thought he was pretty cute.
The onslaught of the wind was most unfriendly along the final stretch to the summit. In these conditions, I sometimes wonder if a 70-80 mph gust is going to come along and toss me down the mountain.
Luckily that didn't happen. Visibility, when not obstructed by an Everest like snow plume, was immaculate. The Sangres always look sweet from the southern Sawatch. We spent some recovery time on the summit, which I desperately needed and then geared up for the descent. This was just about the most difficult summit to date for me as I had to struggle through yet another annoying asthma problem. I need to figure this crap out; it's really kicking my ass lately. I really don't want to have to pop a pill every day though, hmmm. On to the skiing, this started from the tippy top:
Jordan with sticks on top
Ready to ski
We used some recent shallow wind loading on the south side of the west ridge. The upper part of this line was boney, really boney.
Looking down the west ridge ski route from the summit
A few good turns were had:
Jordan skis down the west ridge
doumall trying to make it work
But the norm was some serious rock skiing:
We had to down climb a cliff band which was the first time the skis came off.
Sunset came and went as we skied good snow the remaining vertical to treeline.
Pow turns were had:
As well as some fun gully skiing:
The mindless skin track bobsled run to the truck was actually pretty fun. It seemed like that road went on forever. It was good to get out with you again Jordan, lets get'er done when you get back.