Buffalo Mountain's Silver Couloir
Buffalo Mountain stands tall over Summit County despite its lowly status as a 12er. It was the first mountain I knew by name in Colorado. It's also across the way from a house in Silverthorne I've rented for the past four winters. So I've spent a lot of time looking at this mountain with skiing on the brain.
Brian (Lord Helmut) lives about as close as legally possible to Buffalo Mountain so he was in the same frame of mind.
We started at 5:45am out of the standard Buffalo Mtn TH. We wanted to climb the Silver Couloir (shown in a trace of silver above) rather than the more common approach up the east face. So at the trail intersection where the left points to Buffalo Cabin, we went straight. From there it is an awful ~300' decline over less than a mile around the base of Buffalo to the northeast slopes. Many falls and hugged trees later and we were at the base of the Silver.
edlins was good enough to share with us that the Silver gets plenty of early morning sun this time of year. He was right.
Sunhit - 7:00am
From here we put our skis on our backs and started the ~2500' of booting. The snow was good though, and we didn't have to break much crust, if any. Oh how would I know, Brian probably lead 3/4 of the way.
Lord Helmut leading the way
A look down from around 11k
We traded off for about 3 hours. Closer to the Y in the couloir, as the day heated up, the snow started to soften. Still no problems though, just a little more difficult, little deeper steps. I actually counted my steps for the first time ever, pacing myself. It worked.
Brian kicking steps
Polemarks suggest some soft snow
We took a 5 minute break at the bottom of the Y. There was some powder on top here and we noticed some dust underneath. Pretty soon after this point the slope levels and we were able to put our skis back on. We quickly reached the round summit from there.
Brian skinning to the summit
On the summit at 10:15 we had nice views in all directions.
And then it was finally time to ski. We headed off the summit to the northeast in search of Silver.
Brian ready to let loose
Entering the Silver Couloir
Matt joins the party
Once we were in the tighter part of the chute, the snow became more variable, but predictable given the angle of the sunlight. On the right, in the shade, it was harder, while on the left it was nice and soft. I ventured out to a south-easternly exposed slope and almost stopped in my tracks due to the soupy snow.
When we did take a break, we were treated to this view of Grays and Torreys.
Then, off again. More good snow and beautiful surroundings.
The chute chokes down at points, but the snow was pretty forgiving so it seemed effortless.
Brian above a tight section
He rips it
The couloir just keeps going and going,
but finally ends.
After a celebratory Dale's Pale Ale with Brian I was off to my winter rental to bask in our reflected glory: