| Mt. Lindsey Summit Ski (North Couloir)- Lily Lake/Huerfano TH
Date: Sunday, June 7, 2009
Skiers: USAKeller, killingcokes (Fritz), and lodgling (Rob); Climber: KeithK
Route: North Face standard ascent and North Couloir ski descent from Huerfano/Lily Lake TH
Stats: 8 miles; 4,200’ climbed; ~2,900’ skied; 12 hrs RT
After a great climb and ski of Mt. Evans two days prior, I was itching for some more spring snow climbing and northern-facing skiing. When killingcokes PMed me a few days ago to ski Lindsey, I was quite interested. I invited KeithK to join for a long-overdue climb. I met KeithK in Denver Saturday evening and we headed down to the trailhead, where we met lodgling and killingcokes that night. We set a wake-up time for 4:00am; the winds were absolutely howling all night long and remained that way when we all woke up. Because they were forecasted to be high that day, we weren't in a huge hurry to start - we were on trail in hiking boots at 5:45am. Our first obstacle was the major river crossing. We shuffled and threw rocks in to make a path but it wasn't working. Keith and Rob sucked it up and walked across while Fritz and I froze our feet numb walking across. Intermittent snow started around 10,600' on the trail, but there were enough footprints to find the way. At the small boulder field, we found the first steeper bullet-proof snow to climb up.
Fritz and I find no easy way to cross the stream but to go barefoot:
The boys climb up on hard-pack near the boulder field:
The obligatory Blanca and Ellingwood shot:
We left the boulder field, headed straight for the drainage that leads into the upper basin climbers' right of the standard route, and hiked directly up it to shave a little mileage off. The winds had died down to only about half of what they were overnight. We continued on until we met the standard route near 12,300' and followed that to the Lindsey – Iron Nipple saddle. At the saddle, Fritz, Rob, and I switched hiking boots for plastics while Keith contemplated climbing that couloir as his second snow climb. I reassured him that if at any time he wanted to turn back, we would. From here, we could also see a beautiful pre-existing staircase for us to boot up.
KeithK hikes the drainage into the upper basin:
What an inviting snow climb!
We traversed across to the base of the couloir – Rob lead, I followed with Keith behind and Fritz bringing up the rear if any sort of arrest would be needed. Rob called down that the snow was "money" – indeed it was as perfect as you could get for crampon and axe purchase. It was beautiful!
Traversing below the Northwest Ridge to the base of the couloir:
lodgling and I start the booter:
KeithK and killingcokes enjoy their bite:
We estimated the couloir average to be around 40 degrees with the steepest portion (near the rock outcropping above the middle section) just exceeding it. We topped out near 13,600' (Keith rocked it), and the next task was to make an ascending traverse across the top of a steep no-fall gully. We found that however small they were, the north-eastern aspects were a place we didn't want to hang out too long on, and we crossed it each one by one.
lodgling and I traverse above the gully (top photo); Keith and Fritz on the same section (bottom photo):
Keith and I rest just past the gully traverse, getting ready for some mixed scrambling:
More or less, we followed the standard route on steep snow and rock until we hit the summit ridge near 14,000'. Almost immediately after hitting it, the extremely gusty winds made a return visit knocking a few of us to our knees. Not long after lodgling, I reached the summit at 12:50pm; Keith and Fritz arrived a few minutes later. Only a short time spent on the summit, we were ready to ski. Keith glissaded our ski route with a solo climber we met along the way. We skied off the summit at 1:15pm.
Rob and I navigate Mt Lindsey's summit ridge:
killingcokes and KeithK on the summit:
lodgling rips down the North Couloir:
killingcokes hits it next:
My turn to rip the North Couloir (Little Bear group behind, top photo):
We skied about 1600' vert. off the summit for 15 minutes to somewhere around 12,450' (although another 200' is likely ski-able on that line). Leaving the summit at 1:15pm, we were fairly certain we'd have some rockin' corn to ride, but the high winds kept things cooler and it wasn't the harvest we had hoped to reap; the snow was just slightly crusty on top of a nice base but still a great ski. The skiers waited for Keith and John (the solo climber) for 10 minutes before we all made a tiring traverse 700' west back towards the Lindsey - Iron Nipple saddle. "Huerfano" currently has a nice line off it's south side.
Looking forward to the ascending traverse back to the Lindsey - Iron Nipple saddle:
After a short break on the windy saddle, our group started back down with the skiers milking any possible opportunity to carve more turns. Skis were on and off from about 13,000'-12,300' before we linked patches to get into the continuous drainage. Finally hitting some corn, we skied a total of ~1,300' to just below treeline (near 11,500') where we switched back to hiking shoes and waited a short while for Keith. We bushwhacked and post-holed off-trail near the stream until we found the trail near the boulder field. Keith and I made it back to the truck at 5:45pm, 30 minutes after our partners. It was definitely a long day, but well worth it. Keith had a major accomplishment that day - a huge congratulations! Great day with new partners - I can't wait for more!
California Peak beta:
Fritz, Rob, and I make it work to the drainage:
A look back up at most of the ski route:
KeithK's trip report:
killingcokes' trip report:
Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):