| Skywalker and an interesting traverse
Route - Skywalker Couloir to S.Arapahoe, traverse ridge to N.Arapahoe, traverse back to S.Arapahoe and descend SE Ridge
Group - Me and Glen
Time and distance - 7.5-8 miles, 3500ft elevation gain, 8 hours and a lot of dilly dallying
Weather - flawless
Writin this report mainly for conditions sake and the fact its another sweet, quick IPW climb, one of many.
My buddy Glen and I decided to hit up a close and quick peak in the IPW region. Glen was up in the Skywalker Couloir about 2 weeks prior, but wanted another go at it since his first trip was in a whiteout. As of right now, the snow/ski conditions in the Skywalker Couloir are ideal for climbing, but not so much for skiing. We were able to make some decent kicksteps all the way to the top, but it was icy in sections and runnelled out near the middle. Since its deeply inset, it doen't receive sun until much later in the day. We ran into 2 skiers at the base of the gully and saw them turn around about halfway up.
Our approach was the same standard experience as reports past. Arrived at the dry trailhead around 5:30am, on the trail minutes later. The morning shaped up to be quite pleasant and I was extra anxious for decent weather on my virgin trip to the Arapahoe Pass region.
Sun rising up and lighting up the valley
We reached the base soon enough and were excited about the perfect snow for our crampons.
Skywalker from the base
The couloir, although quite popular, surprised me with regards to its aesthetic value, as well as its steepness. It was one of the steeper couloirs I've climbed, but with the conditions, weather and climbing partner, it was a unnaturally soothing experience. There was no rockfall or signs of it and the snow was absolutely a pleasure to kick into.
Some shots of the climb, hopefully they will do all the talking.....
Looking South towards Evans
Looking West towards the Gores and an idea of how steep it gets near the top
I think this is the cutoff to Leia, right below the top
Looking up at the top of the gully with a cornice to the left
Glen in action, aboutto top out
Glen with Neva and Jasper in the background
We made the summit of S.Arapahoe 3 hours after our departure from the car. Our motivation and energy levels were at an all-time high, so we opted for the traverse over to N.Arapahoe.
Beginning the traverse over to N.Arapahoe
The snow definately made for some fun climbing, never too dangerous in either of our opinions. As we were traversing, we noticed a lot of balled up snow forming near the top of the ridge, which would eventually turn into decent sized wet slides down the Arapahoe Glacier into the off limits watershed. Too bad that region is prohibited for travel, there was some fun lines and bowls for a ski.
Anyways, some shots of the traverse :
The majority of the traverse
Looking back towards S.Arapahoe. Notice all the slides forming along the ridge. Most of these weren't there an hour before.
One of the steeper sections of the traverse, right below N.Arapahoe's summit
And looking down that section, it was steep
The traverse took about an hour and a half with a lot of breaks, since the day had no threats of bad weather, atleast at that point. The summit of N.Arapahoe was pretty sweet, sheer cliff off the East side and a great front row seat of the IPW and Longs to the North.
Myself with Lake Isabelle region and Longs in the background
The traverse back to S.Arapahoe went a lot quicker. We reached the summit in less than an hour.
Glen downclimbing the crux rock section of the traverse.
We traded axes for poles and made our way for the SE ridge back to the valley floor. We never used or felt we needed crampons along the traverse. That is relative though, there may have been a section of two where someone might feel comfortable putting them on, but it'd only add time to the trip.
We reached the Arapahoe Pass trail about an hour later and made our way back to the car.
Glen with some decent views to the SW
And our parting shot of the day
Definately a fun outing with a little bit of everything. We began with a great, steep snow climb, some interesting summits, some exposure along the traverse, phenomenal views in all directions and most importantly, great weather. Just another reason to get up into the IPW. (oh, and Southern Sun Brewery near Neptunes has some damn good brews and buffalo chicken sandwiches).
Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):