| Skiing on the first day of summer (Reason #781 that I love Colorado!)
After a successful Harvard/Columbia combo the day before, I was anxious for 1) better weather and 2) skiing! My friends and I camped out along the Arkansas River in Salida on Saturday night (FIBARK festivities), and then headed back up 24 to Missouri Gulch first thing on Sunday morning. We were on the trail at 6:15am... a little later than planned, but sometimes its tough coordinating 9 people and 4 cars.
We had a big crew. Ben, Sam, and I planned to ski, while Kirsten, Dan, Andy, Karilyn, Daron, and Laura had no interest in lugging their ski gear up 4,600 feet! The was the 14er debut for everyone in the group except Dan and I.
One on the trail, it quickly became apparent that our large group was going to split up into a few smaller groups, since the 3 of us skiers we going to push the pace up to the summit. Luckily I brought walkie-talkies, which allowed us to keep in contact throughout the day (and pretend we were in the movie "Vertical Limit").
Ben, Sam, and I set a quick pace up to 13,000, where the hiking became more difficult (at least, more difficult when you're carrying skis and boots). At this point we also met up with another skier (Craig). We gained the ridge by scrambling up some very loose rock and crossing a small snowfield. The traverse across the ridge to the summit was definitely sketchy at times. Downclimbing was necessary at a few points in order to avoid some harder rock manuevers. The weather on the ridge was cold and WINDY... REALLY WINDY. We were starting to worry that a storm was moving in, and the rest of our group would have trouble reaching the summit. Luckily, the weather broke as we were on the summit getting our ski gear ready to go.
I'll let the pictures tell the rest of the story, but the skiing down the main couloir was worth every step up the mountain. We got about 1500 feet of awesome (and surprisingly soft) turns. We were a bit concerned about the snow sliding, but didn't have any problems while skiing. However, we saw two separate slides as we were resting at the trail junction waiting for the rest of our group.
OK, time for pictures... they tell the story a lot better than I can...
There are several stream crossings in Missouri Gulch
Approaching Missouri and looking back down the valley
Looking at the line we planned to ski
Ben gaining the ridge and starting the traverse
Here I'm negotiating one of the trickier sections of the ridge. Getting close to the summit
Here we are on the ridge above the C couloir. My friend Dan was on a hill ~13k feet and snapped some great photos of the descent.
Sam, Craig, and I on the summit; Ben looking down at the main couloir
Summit shot. This was Ben and Sam's first 14er in Colorado.
At the top of the main couloir, about to drop in
Craig skied down first to a safety zone about halfway down
I followed after him
Ben ripping it up
Craig skiing down the second half of the couloir and into the open area at the bottom
Sam was next
Then it was my turn
I'm enjoying every second of this!
Skiing around some debris
Ben coming down
We found a little chute off to skier's right that allowed you to ski right to the trail junction at 12,600. Here's Sam skiing through it
Looking back at our line
This marmot chewed two finger off my glove when I wasn't looking!
Our whole group
Hiking back out through Missouri Gulch. The sun came out and it got nice and warm.
Perfect first day of summer. Skiing and sunshine!
Overall it was just a fantastic day to be in the mountains with a great group of friends. The skiing was superb, so for anyone still looking to make some turns, get to Missouri while you still have a chance!
Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):