Buying Gear?  Click Here
Buying gear? Please use these links to help 14ers.com:

More info...

Other ways to help...
 Peak(s):  Mt. Evans  -  14,264 feet
 Post Date:  06/09/2009 Modified: 05/07/2014
 Date Climbed:   06/05/2009
 Posted By:  USAKeller
 Additional Members:   BillMiddlebrook

 Making Strides: Mt. Evans Ski (North Face)- Summit Lake TH    


Mt. Evans North Face Couloir Spring Ski: Learning to Ski Steeper Terrain


Date: Friday, June 5, 2009
Route: North Face ascent (1mi.) and ski descent (1.2mi.) from Summit Lake TH
Stats: 2.2 miles; 1,500’ climbed; ~1,300’ skied; 4 hrs 45 min RT

Our routes (red=climb; blue=ski):


Topo of the route (red=climb; blue=ski):
Image

First off, I was pleasantly surprised Bill was up for taking a beginner ski-mountaineer up Evans' North Face for a ski descent for his third annual "Ski Evans With A 14ers.com Member" trip. I would find out on the climb if I would be comfortable skiing 45-50 degree material – one of the benefits of climbing what you ski. If I wasn't ready, we would go for a mellower line skiers' left of the couloirs. The overnight forecast was just above freezing, but we hoped that the higher winds predicted would allow us a safe summit ski. I met Bill at the Idaho Springs ranger station at 6:00am and we were ready to climb at 7:00am from Summit Lake. We left the road and climbed southwest up a short headwall to the Summit Lake Bowl. At the end of crossing the bench near 13,100', we put crampons on and traversed south to reach the bottom of the North Face. Despite the winds, the snow was somewhat soft here.

Traversing to the base of the North Face:
Image

In the lower apron of the couloir, Bill dug a small pit to find about a 3-inch fracture later on top of about an 8-inch freeze depth. Poking around with our ice axes, we were able to feel the different layers. Bill lead the first part of the apron, I lead the middle part, and he finished the top portion. The couloir averaged 43 degrees and maxed out at 50 degrees near the exit "ramp" at the top. We found mixed conditions throughout – mostly softer snow to punch through interspersed with harder crust, and more cookies.

Bill starts the booter – plenty of cookies:


I took the reins for a bit – entering the main couloir:


In the choke of the couloir:


Looking back down the couloir – photos just don't do the steepness justice:
Image

The last two snow seasons really have had my nerves up for whatever reason, but this being the steepest snow climbing I've done thus far, didn't bother me whatsoever. It was a nice feeling. We topped out and had the steepest part (a short 50 deg. section) to reach the exit point. We took this section one at a time as there was quite a bit of loaded snow here. After this, it was a short jaunt up to the summit.

Traversing to easier terrain at the top of the couloir:



I think we're in for a summit ski! Finishing off the climb:
Image

We were on the summit at 9:50am; only one other person and lots of cars at the parking lot. It was pretty windy - we were ready to ski at 10:30am. I found myself a little more nervous for this ski than any other one so far, but decided on wanting to ski the North Face couloir. "You just can't fall," Bill said, over and over. A few billy-goat sections and short areas to pop off skis later, we were ready to hit the couloir.

A shot of the route and upper 50-degree section that leads to the top of the couloir (taken from the summit of Evans):


I make it work off the summit:


We popped off the skis for a brief section here. Skiing to the top of the couloir:


Bill off the summit and skiing the steepest portion:



Bill pounded on it with his turns and nothing was going to move. I paused for awhile, thinking about what would happen if I fell. Skiing something this steep at a resort is something I have done, but on more technical terrain above a narrow couloir is something I have not. I quickly built up the courage and went for it.

First 50-degree turns on a Fourteener. Again, it's hard to appreciate the steepness in these photos:



I met Bill across the top of the couloir and skied next. The winds were still there and it wasn't warming up. Snow conditions were very similar to the climb up (a bit crustier in areas), and Bill warned me that skiing on cookies was tougher as that type of snow can cause you to stick. In the top third of the chute, there were a couple small areas of exposed rock that we side-slipped by.

I dropped into the couloir, made a few turns, and Bill followed:



Bill went first through the rocks and enjoyed more of the couloir:






I carefully made my way down:






A few turns more down the apron, we made a short traverse west above a small slide to finish off the North Face ski. We opted not to ski down the first headwall we climbed up; so we skied east to where we put crampons on, and then north towards Summit Lake until it contoured east again and dumped us a few hundred yards from the parking lot. We were back to the car at 11:45am.

Bill finished his ski:



My final turns:



I was so shocked and happy to have skied that route successfully. I feel like I've made some decent improvements as a beginner ski-mountaineer this season and skiing this route only reinforced that feeling. It was a great feeling, and it helps having an excellent teacher. I want more steeps!



Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):
 


  • Comments or Questions
audiotom


missed you two by an hour or so     2009-06-09 11:57:31
I was up there friday midnight to 6 a.m.
wanted to climb the slightly shallowed coulouir to the west of the one you climbed
50+ mph winds, south face was glare ice

glad to see the snow softened up on the north face and you got a great climb and ski in. SO how were those 50 degree pitches versus other slopes you had done?

I ended up in spring corn skiing on A-Basin

Tom


BillMiddlebrook


Hooray!     2009-06-09 12:41:31
Nice job skiing that line! It was a great morning and a pretty good ski for June 5th. I was a bit surprised to see continuous snow from the summit to the North Face.

Another great day on skis!!


Jcwhite


Looks familiar eh     2009-06-09 14:02:13
Bill, you ski this one every year?


BillMiddlebrook


Evans every year     2009-06-09 15:01:32
Maybe! This visit had better snow compared to last year - made for some nice turns.


doubleA

Sorry guys!     2009-06-09 16:36:23
I screwed up my vote. I meant to give you 5 out of 5 stars.
We skied this line back in ‘93 and loved it.
Your pictures are great- we will probably have to climb/ski this one next week.
Great TR, keep ‘em coming.


crazydiamond80


Hell yeah!     2009-06-09 19:02:46
A buddy and I climbed that line on Sunday. Having been there I can fully appreciate what you guys did. That top section is pretty frickin‘ steep and you‘re right, pictures don‘t do it justice. Nice work!


killingcokes


Very Nice     2009-06-09 19:39:11
I like the Evans zone. That‘s a fun mtn and you just can‘t beat that access


bckcntryskr


Nice read     2009-06-09 20:13:51
Caroline, congrats on progressing into the steeper stuff. You both look really good in the photos.


kimo

Well done     2009-06-09 22:28:39
I don‘t expect to ever ski down something that steep but I sure enjoy the vicarous living. I include this report with the other fantastic ski mountaineering reports I‘ve read this year. There‘s been many of them. I imagine your elation is much like the first time I stood on top of a high mountain just last year. I knew full well that the door swung wide open and life would never be the same. Congrats on progressing.


Gene913


Well Done!     2009-06-09 22:36:48
Caroline - Just another chapter in the constant quest to meet and overcome our earthly fears, eh? Good job!
Bill - how much did you have to pay Caroline to take care of writing the trip report? And to think I was standing next to greatness in the parking lot on Friday morning and didn‘t even know it. Who would‘ve thunk it? Cheers and well done!


USAKeller


Thanks guys!     2009-06-10 05:37:24
Tom: I had only skied 50deg. once before that at a resort. It‘s definitely different skiing one with a more dangerous fall line. But after that first turn is over, it felt pretty good. All we needed was either nice corn or some powder!

bckcntryskr: It‘s unfortunate that I‘m the only one who has to try hard to look decent in the pics!

kimo: You took the words exactly out of my mouth.

Gene913: I‘m thinking it was opening a chapter - there‘s lots of room for improvement.

Thanks to everyone else for the comments!


lordhelmut


nice looking mountain     2009-06-10 13:41:30
when you do it on a clear day. Surprised that peak is still skiable after our rock hopping adventure through the haze.

Nice job.


benners


Nice Caroline!     2009-06-10 15:34:16
Glad to see others out there still getting em!


maverick_manley


Echo...     2009-06-11 08:40:38
Looking good Caroline. Solid form on some steep stuff. Nice!


USAKeller


Thanks again...     2009-06-12 06:38:57
Brian and Ben: I thought of you guys and the weather you had, and I would say that line is much more fun when you can see it!

Prakash: Thanks! We should get out for a tour/ski sometime!



   Using your forum id/password. Not registered? Click Here


Caution: The information contained in this report may not be accurate and should not be the only resource used in preparation for your climb. Failure to have the necessary experience, physical conditioning, supplies or equipment can result in injury or death. 14ers.com and the author(s) of this report provide no warranties, either express or implied, that the information provided is accurate or reliable. By using the information provided, you agree to indemnify and hold harmless 14ers.com and the report author(s) with respect to any claims and demands against them, including any attorney fees and expenses. Please read the 14ers.com Safety and Disclaimer pages for more information.

© 2014 14ers.com®, 14ers Inc.