| Skiing the maze down Mt Toll
Mt Toll (Indian Peaks)
Trailhead: Mitchell Lake (~0.3 miles away - gate is closed to upper trailheads)
Elevation Gain: ~2,500'
Start: 7am Summit: 12pm End: 3:45
Didn't quite get the alpine start I wanted, but with the Brainard Lake lower gate open, I didn't need to bike into the trailhead. They still have the gate closed to the Mitchell and Long Lake trailheads, though the snow is melting fast, and should be open soon.
View from Brainard Lake
Close up of Mt Toll
The first section of trail is well compacted, so I left the skis on my back. After a while the trail diversifies into many boot paths going all over, and becomes difficult to follow, so I gave up and went my own way.
An opening in the trees allowed a nice view of the destination
A few times I found a nice snow field and put my skis with skins on, but soon the snow petered out and I had to give up. A lot of time was wasted putting on and taking off the skis (along with bushwacking to find snow to ski on), so it probably would have taken less time to just boot up most of the way.
One of the few snow fields found on the way up, with Mt Audubahn then Toll and Paiute Peak in the background:
Moonset behind Little Pawnee Peak:
A bit further up the valley, I got a nice view of the ski descent off of Mt Toll.
It wasn't until ~11,200 just east of Blue Lake that the snow is continuous and I could skin most of the way up Mt Toll.
Some climbers with skis going up the Crooked Couloir on Audubahn.
View from Blue Lake:
I decided to boot up the final pitch, as the section right after the lake had my AT bindings to the max. That and a guy who had just skied down Paiute and started a small avalanche, was cruising past my ski switchbacks a bit too fast
Approaching the summit.
Paiute from the summit:
Two skiers about to make the descent:
Navajo and Apache Peaks
The obligatory summit shot with my skis (the color coordination was a complete accident)
Looking for a way to ski down all the way, through all the melted out patches:
While resting on the summit, 2 guys come up from the CSU outing club, that I had gone skiing with yesterday in RMNP.
The initial descent of the peak was really fun, as I found a fresh section off to skiers right to track up. On the steep middle section, it was really slushy and rough from previous skiers and glissades, making skiing a bit difficult. On the second pitch down to the lake there were enough open areas to be really fun again. I guess I needed to get up earlier for the fresh tracks in the corn snow!
Why it sucks to be a snowboarder in the backcountry:
We crossed over Blue Lake initially, but there were cracks where we could see water (maybe just melt water?). After seeing the this, we went to the edge of the lake to be on the safe side.
Skiing and boarding on a lower slope:
We managed to find a convoluted snow path almost all the way down to the trailhead. It did involve skiing on dirt, grass, trees, streams and marshes (and a few rocks) to get all the way down, as there were many bare patches the lower we went. This was probably the last weekend that skiing all the way down could even be attempted.
Looking back up at an awesome, if a bit steep (for me with my mountaineering boot-AT setup) and slushy descent, off of the summit.
Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):