| West Face
Nick Meyers drove us to Lake City. We started the North Fork of the Henson from Capitol City at 4:00, making Matterhorn creek by 5:00. Another great day. Nick and I have many great days from that season: Park Cone, Snodgrass, Right & Wrong, Red Lady, Axtel, Teocalli, Poverty Gulch, Brush Creek, Gothic, and of course good ol' Crested Butte. Every spring he headed back to work for the Mt. Shasta Climbing Rangers at the apex of the spring snow season, usually skiing the La Sals in transition, so I was glad we finally did a spring tour.
Uncompahgre's west slopes from Wetterhorn.
This as my first time up to this area without a big overnight pack.
We charged to the 12,400 ft pass, and crossed the rolling terrain to the base of Uncompahgre's west face. We took a climbing traverse across thin slopes below cliffs to the keyhole. The snow was thawing on the south ridge. The many phases of this climb were starting to add up. We climbed up through the terraced upper slopes. Some thin clouds moved in to keep things cool while we enjoyed the summit at noon.
I once saw a very colorful sunset from here during the second half of my first day on the 14ers. I gave the 8x10 away at a white elephant Christmas Party in CB. The fellow that received this gift shared his story of parasailing off the summit of Unc, and landing on the Wetter.
I clicked in at the summit, and followed a thin little wind row off the summit plateau, and had to walk fifteen feet to get back on the snow riding down to the next step, and making it through on snow to the left. I had to step out and take another jaunt back to the ridge, where I rode a steeper pitch above the southern ledges. We down climbed the first fifteen feet into the west face gullies. Nick fought with his binding for a few minutes.
A nice corn surface had thawed, and it chimed down the slope with me. There was a tight squeeze halfway down that can be blocked on drier years, but it went easily today. I cleared to the side and spotted for my partner. His telemark style is solid, and always fun to watch. I saved a little of the run to get speed across the flats.
We skinned mild terrain to a saddle on Broken Hill under intense afternoon sun, and got another good run in down the west aspect back to Matterhorn Creek. My partner found a soft spot in the side of a gully towards the bottom, and had to fish out his ski. This was a reminder to stay clear of eastern aspects as they heated up with mid-day temperatures. We were glad to be leaving on a west aspect.
The temperatures continued to rise that afternoon, and triggered widespread activity in the area on steep east slopes below rock outcrops. We witnessed one release where water and heat from the rocks had saturated the snow, suddenly triggering a deep point release that buried the creek about fifteen feet deep, and knocked over several ratty old trees in a tight compression zone. The way things were going, we were lucky the road back to Lake City wasn't blocked by a slide.
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