| American Basin ski/snowclimb extravaganza
Sensing that prime backcountry ski season is nearing its glorious end, Amy (Nice Axe!) and I decided to head for American Basin (just west of the 14er Handies in the San Juans) this past weekend. Andy/Sarah (CincyBearcats) and Nina the husky joined us for days 2 and 3.
Here is a picture of the turnoff to American Basin from the Cinnamon Pass Rd, our home for 3 days (~11300'):
As you can see, the 4WD road to American Basin is still closed, and it will probably be some time before it's drivable to the 4WD TH (although snow is melting fast).
Here is a picture of American Basin (looking south, taken from the Cinnamon Pass Rd as we departed toward Silverton). Numbers 1-8 are what we snowclimbed and skied chronologically over the 3 days. Andy and Sarah joined us for 2-5 and 7-8. See below for details.
Day 1 (6/6): (~2500' climbed/skied)
1: NW-facing chute near PT 13444 (which is just out of view to the right); it was so good we skied it twice.
Day 2 (6/7): (~3600' climbed/skied)
2: Victory Couloir
3: Bi-centennial 13er American Peak (we summitted from the top of Victory and got a true summit ski descent down the E ridge, and then skied down Victory)
4: Patriot Couloir
5: Independence Couloir.
Day 3 (6/8 ): (~3200' climbed/skied)
6: SE-facing slope (not visible, located behind ridge in picture)
7: N-facing chute
8: Traitor Couloir.
(I will refer to these numbers in the rest of the TR.)
Every morning, we could skin continuously starting about 150 yards away from the car, about from this location:
A picture of #1 (broad chute near center of photo):
Looking to the north (Coxcomb, Wetterhorn, Uncompahgre visible on skyline, left to right):
Amy getting June powder (#1):
It was so good we skied it again, then all the way down American Basin to the car for a mellow day 1. We decided on an excursion to Lake City to hang out for the afternoon and for dinner (try A&A Italian Restaurant for good, authentic, unpretentious Italian food).
Andy & Sarah drove up late and joined us at the American Basin TH around 2am. We started skinning around 6:15am. Today, we knew we were going for the American Peak summit and as many of the north-facing couloirs as we could get before the snow got too soft.
Here is a picture of Victory Couloir (left side of photo) with American Peak to the right of center:
I measured the steepest parts of Victory to be fairly sustained ~40 degrees.
Scott in the lower part of Victory:
Amy approaching the summit of American Peak, with Andy/Sarah in the background:
Beta for Vestal group:
Happy crew on the summit of American:
Amy dropping off the summit:
Andy shredding in Victory (#2):
Amy in Patriot (#4):
Andy contemplating his lead up Independence Couloir (#5):
Sarah and Nina descending Independence (#5):
We had a nice lazy afternoon lounging at the TH, waving at tons of Jeeps driving by. Sarah and Andy introduced us to Skyline Chili from Cincinnati.
We survived (so far).
We had a leisurely 7am start. Today we decided to explore the mini-basin at the SW corner of upper American Basin, and to finish off the fourth and hardest American Peak couloir, Traitor (at least of the ones in Roach's 13ers book).
Scott skiing the SE slope (#6):
Andy, Sarah, and Nina leading up Traitor (#8 ):
Looking down Traitor (#8 ):
Andy measured Traitor to be around 45 degrees; it felt pretty sustained at that steepness.
Spent after skiing Traitor (#8 ):
We almost felt like real ski bums after this weekend
Climbing notes: We used crampons and ice axe (Andy/Sarah) or whippet poles (Scott/Amy) in Victory and Traitor. A helmet is highly recommended for all the couloir climbs.
Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):