Peak(s):  Mt. Yale  -  14,196 feet
Post Date:  04/13/2009
Modified:  05/07/2014
Date Climbed:   04/11/2009
Posted By:  USAKeller
Additional Members:   comin2getcha, Carl, benners

 Mt. Yale Summit Ski (Upper Silver Creek Bowl)- Denny Creek TH   

Mt. Yale Summit Ski via the Davenport Route

Date: Saturday, April 11, 2009
Group: Carl, Lance, Ben, and I
Route: West Slope standard ascent (~4mi.) and upper Silver Creek Cirque to West Slopes ski descent (~4.2mi.) from Denny Creek TH (Dav‘s Route)
Stats: 8.2 miles (with a "shortcut" on the descent); 4,300’ climbed; 4,100’ skied; ~10 hrs RT

Our ski route of the upper Silver Creek Bowl (photo taken during a hike of Mt. Columbia, March 2007):

Our routes on the standard west side of Mt. Yale (red=climb; blue=ski):

I can't say it's been a great winter for climbing or Fourteener skiing for me with only three peaks climbed and skied this year, thanks to lack of snow or pure laziness. It was time to get out for something bigger. Originally we had planned on Mt. Bross, but those plans shifted to interest in Yale due to the high winds forecasted. Still, 80% chance of 4-8 inches of snow didn't have my hopes up high, but we remained optimistic. Carl and I entertained the idea of leaving one car at the North Cottonwood Creek TH road closure to enable a full ski of the Silver Creek Bowl, but we weren't certain that would have worked out. So we settled on Davenport's ski route. Obviously we would assess conditions when we got up there.

We met Carl and benners (and the rest of the group) at the Denny Creek TH Saturday morning at 6:00am and started hiking up the packed-down trail a half hour later. The skis went on around 11,100ft.; we skinned up to 11,600ft. where we took skis off (the snow was too icy to skin) and hiked the remaining 400ft. to the southwest shoulder plateau.

Carl, myself, and comin2getcha climb through the forest:
Photo: benners

Ascent route up to the large southwest shoulder from 11,300ft.:

Carl, comin2getcha, and benners skin up to the shoulder:

Me climbing before a low fog approaching the shoulder (photo taken from ~12,100ft.):
Photo: Carl

Taken from ~13,000ft., a look back at the route up to Yale's West Slope:

The boys skinning up towards the saddle:

Once on the West Slopes proper, we were able to put the skis back on near 13,100ft. and skinned up to 13,700ft. where, again, the snow was too slick to skin any farther. Skis back on our packs, benners and Carl alternated, setting the bootpack on the familiar west-facing varied snow conditions from hardpack to sugar snow up to the saddle. We climbed to about 13,950ft. to the summit ridge – climbers' right of the low-point of the saddle. bjohnson17 met up with our group here and would join us on the ridge scramble to the summit. Up to this point, we had a brief snow shower of little accumulation and pretty constant 10-15mph winds above treeline.

benners, myself, and comin2getcha follow Carl's bootpack up to the saddle:
Photo: Carl

The summit ridge from the 13,900ft. saddle:

comin2getcha and I working across the ridge crest:
Photo: benners

A few ridge-scrambling pictures...
Carl heads up to 14,000ft.:

benners makes his way up:

comin2getcha working up the ridge:

I scramble just below the summit:

Higher up on the ridge Wesley gave us the good news that there was nice snow coverage in Silver Creek Bowl. We summited around 1:00pm (in 6hrs. 35min. including all breaks; temperature: 20deg.). Skins came off and beacons went on.

A few summit shots (unfortunately due to cloud cover, I couldn't get any nice summit scenics)...
Our ski group on Yale (left to right: comin2getcha, me, benners, and Carl):

comin2getcha, me, and Carl (top photo); benners and comin2getcha bottom photos:

It was time to ski. From the summit, we headed north about 50 feet to drop northeast into upper Silver Creek Bowl (that way we wouldn't have had quite as long of a traverse back to the saddle). We left the summit at 2:00pm. Carl made the first few turns to a safety zone below the ridge. I dropped in after making a few ski cuts.

Carl dropping into upper Silver Creek Bowl:

Photo: benners

I dropped in next…

Photo: benners

Photo: Carl

benners' fine entrance off the summit:

And comin2getcha off the summit:

In this upper bowl, we found a nice few inches of powder on top of a solid base – it made for the best skiing we had all day. We dropped a few hundred feet into the bowl before cutting hard skier's left (north) and traversing back around to the saddle. We had about a 30ft. side-step back up to the saddle. During the ascent, we kept talking about how nice it would be if it cleared up a little bit for the ski descent. Guess what? It did.

From the safety zone, we were able to see most of the traverse to the saddle (red=climb):

Photo: benners

Traversing north to the saddle:

Photo: Carl

From the 13,900ft. saddle, Carl headed skiers' right (northwest) to keep the line continuous. This section required some billy-goating to get through the rocks. Back on the west side of the peak, ski conditions were typical wind slab with pockets of semi-sticky sugar to play in.

comin2getcha and benners work their way through the rocks (and benners gets some vertical, bottom photo):

Looking down the billy-goat section:

Photo: benners

Carl gets some turns:

Photo: benners

benners enjoying the wind slab:

comin2getcha getting his on the west side:

Photo: Carl

I get my turns:

Photo: Carl

Photo: benners

We re-grouped at treeline and easily made our way down into the thicker forest. Here, we followed Wesley's "shortcut" which didn't quite turn out to be the case. We only had to take our skis off for 20 feet (photo below) until we met back up with the standard trail, where we made quick time skiing back to the trail register. Grateful for the cloud cover most of the day, we arrived back to the parking lot around 4:30pm. Great day guys – looking forward to many more!

Carl's shortcut through the forest led us to some tight trees and bare spots:
Photo: Carl

Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):

  • Comments or Questions

Great day, writeup     02/05/2011 00:22
Nice TR Caroline, great finally getting out with you, lets get another soon!


How many?     04/13/2009 19:21
I know there were plenty of climbers on Yale Saturday. Do you have any idea how many summits we had?


How Many     04/18/2014 19:27
Steve I would guess at least 12 summited besides the skier group. It was easy for us because we just had to follow the trench you dug for us the week before. Thanks for doing that.


Summits on Saturday     04/13/2009 19:46
I was with the climbers on Saturday on Yale. Our group had 8 people that made the summit. I know of at least 2 other skiers along with the 4 in Caroline‘s group so I am thinking about 14 that got to the top on Saturday. I may be off by one.


Nothing wrong     04/13/2009 19:53
With some pics...Nice work. Looks like conditions were decent.


Snow     04/13/2009 20:46
Conditions on the north side were close to perfect, best turns of the day were just off the top. The west face was a frozen crudfest.


Nice.     04/13/2009 21:26
Looks like it was a little chilly on Saturday. Good work.


You guys are....     04/13/2009 21:51
Professionals!!!! Great report and looked like a fun trip. Thanks for the invite!!



good stuff     04/13/2009 23:20
West Face is a biatch. Turned my rock skis into scrap metal last year. Nice creative line you guys had off the summit. Finally got the AT package so I‘m down to join on some of these excursions.

And yes, finding the way back to the car below treeline can get interesting to put it politely.


Well that was fun     05/02/2011 14:23
You put together a nice TR Caroline. Good getting out with you guys again, and meeting everyone else on the mountain. I don‘t know why my ”shortcut” is in quotes though


”Shortcut”     11/30/2010 17:28
Carl I think your shortcut should become the standard route, not sure why they put the current trail where it is when there's such a marvelous alternative. I‘m sure Caroline would agree with me 8).


Snow conditions     04/15/2009 16:34
Looked pretty thin on the upper west side. Did you guys get a look down the entire Silver Creek bowl? If so, how did the snow look? I‘m considering a climb/ski from Avalanche Gulch.

Glad the weather held out!


Thanks for the comments!     04/15/2009 19:07
lordhelmut: I‘m so happy to hear you finally got your AT set-up! I definitely took some near-core shots to my skis. The people at Boulder Ski Deals like my business. You‘re welcome to ski anytime - when will you be good to go?

Wesley: You know exactly why your shortcut is in quotes! And, I do agree with Ben. Duh!

Bill: I peeked down the bowl and the snow looked nice - much better than the west side. I would have loved a ski of that entire NE side, but we needed more time to plan leaving a car there.


good to go     04/16/2009 07:54
when one, my ankle stops getting agitated when compressed in a ski boot and two, when the a**hole who I paid the skis for on ebay actually gets around to sending them (its been nearly 3 weeks).


SICK!     04/18/2009 19:36
Nice going! Looks like you guys had fun


nice ski     04/20/2009 02:05
I always laugh when I read a report about lazy 20 something year olds who are only getting 15,000+ feet of vertical in an off winter season.

how steep were the slopes there? I like that one shot of you with the steep background

nice report - looks like you found a decent line around rocky areas . the other face sure looked tempting
sorry guys couldn‘t resist - as you link turns to the bottom
they can always come get you


Slopes     04/22/2009 01:24
I think Wesley measured a part of the West Slope to be around 38 deg. On the Silver Creek side, I would say it‘s about the same; not much steeper. A very intermediate ski descent IMO.

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