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 Peak(s):  Pikes Peak  -  14,110 feet
 Post Date:  06/29/2009
 Date Climbed:   06/27/2009
 Posted By:  SkiNowWorkLater

 West Y Couloir, Pikes Peak   

In a last-ditch effort to keep the 14er skiing season alive, Ollie and I made the long drive to Colorado Springs to ski and climb Pikes Peak. During the summer when the access road is open to the top, this peak is a bit like a credit card; you get the goods right away with a summit ski from your car door, but you pay for it later by having to climb back up. We arrived at the toll gate around 7:00 and we were the 5th car in line. Once through the toll at 7:30, we were delayed another hour at mile marker 7 by race cars practicing for the road race up the peak in a couple of weeks. While hanging out we did get to see some cool cars though:

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Once the road opened to the summit, we raced up and got into our gear. We started skiing at 9:15. Walking over to the Y couloirs, the east branch looked good from the top, but we decided the west branch would be a better ski because of the rock bulge in the east branch. On the climb back up we found out just how right we were. Backing away from the top of the west branch to where the top flattened out to get a "true" summit descent, we poled our way back to the top of the couloir and dropped in:

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The snow at the time we dropped in was almost perfect. In the sun the consistency was a nice corn. In the parts that were still shaded from the morning sun by the rock cliffs, the snow was still hard and frozen. We were able to stick to the nice snow for the most part and got 1,800' of good skiing down into the basin before we ran out of snow.

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At snowline we took a bit of a break to soak in the sun. It was really starting to warm up so we decided to quickly climb back up before the sun got too soft.

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The east branch of the Y couloirs had less sun hit than the west, so we decided that would be the easiest way up. We were able to climb on firm snow most of the way; only breaking through in a couple of spots. As we climbed up we realized just how right our decision to ski the west branch was; the snow in the east branch was much thinner, it hadn't been softened up by the sun yet, there were a lot more rocks poking out all over the place, and there was big rock bulge that we had to climb over about halfway up.

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Once out of the couloir we saw that there was a TON of people up top. It was weird to have them cheer for us as we finished the climb and asked us all types of questions about skiing, how's the snow, are you crazy, etc... We got our requisite picture on the summit sign and went inside to grab some donuts. Then we hightailed it out of there before the Kevin Bacon concert rush started.

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