Horseshoe Peak - 13,898ft
Routes - various
Group - Ben (benners), Carl (wesley), Marc Barella (Carl's neighbor), Baba (Carl and Marc's buddy), myself
RT mileage and vertical - no idea
This day was pretty hilarious. What was supposed to be a pretty straightforward 8 miles, 2600 vertical day turned into something completely off route. We had 3 different groups, climbing and descending 3 different routes and everything in between. In short, we Lawrence Taylor'd the mountain, it never saw it coming.
I met Carl and friends (Ben, Marc and Baba) at the Fairplay Phillips 66 at the intersection of 285 and 9. We arrived at the Four Mile TH around 7:45am and were on the trail around 8:15am. Baba, on snowshoes, took off earlier than the rest, unsure of what he was going to get out of the day. Marc, not interested in a bushwack skin, stuck to the road with his splitboard on his pack most of the way. Carl, Ben and I decided to straight line it for the Boudoir Couloir, regardless of the terrain in between. It was my idea and not the greatest in the world. It took a long time with some sidehilling, dry sections and wind throughout.
Carl skinning into Horseshoe Basin
Trying to relocate the snow
Upon reaching the base of the massive cirque that is Horseshoe Pk, I noticed a line coming off the complete opposite side of the Boudoir, then I noticed Ben and Carl heading straight for it. I'm not sure if it was pure interest or a lack of interest of traversing over to the Boudoir, but I'm glad we all agreed to give it a shot.
Ben and Carl scheming
The unnamed chute we were looking at was a lot narrower, steeper and more aesthetic than the Boudoir, so naturally, it needed to be climbed and skied, I know Carl wouldn't have it any other way.
Ben climbing up w/ Horseshoe in background
The chute we decided to climb takes a hard right (SW aspect), then when further up, it heads left (NW) towards the Horseshoe ridgeline with some fun stuff here and there.
Much more fun than the Boudoir
And it got steeper as we climbed, with solid kick stepping…..
Of course as we neared the ridge, there was option A, take the safe exit to the mellow ridge OR, option B, do a loose low 5th class rock climb that is absolutely, completely unnecessary, which might be the main reason we did it. Anyways, here is the entrance….
lets give this a shot
And us entering….
entering the unknown
The rock climbing in AT boots got interesting immediately off the bat.
making some acrobatic moves
Carl realized about halfway up the route he planned on taking was an overhanging rock, so he backed up, cursed the mountain a few times and was able to pose for this…..
notice there is nothing behind or under Carl and he's smiling. Not right in the head
And I had to make an awkward move to escape this mess….
performing a new move
We topped out on the ridge minutes later and it was decision time. We could either push for the true summit and ski the Boudoir OR top out on this point about 100 feet below the summit and ski this line was just climbed. It was getting late and we were getting a little worried about the snow heating up too much. We decided on the latter and began gearing up.
It was windy, but not nearly as windy as the surrounding summits apparently, cause everyone back at the trailhead raved about barely keeping themselves upright. We finished de-skinning and approached the corniced edge. As we were clicking into our skis, we heard a distinct sound from across the valley. It sounded like an angry wookie, kind of frightening. Carl then noticed a figure on the summit, yelling into the deep abyss of Horseshoe Basin towards us, trying to communicate with us. It was Marc. We couldn't make out what he was saying, but tried yelling back anyways. A walkie-talkie would've been useful in this situation.
Anyway, we began the ski…..
Ben dropping in. Carl had other thoughts
Carl in the bowl
Checking out what lurks down below
some heavy corn turns
enjoying the fruits of our labor
Carl exiting into the apron
It began with a steep, open bowl where we enjoyed some really nice turns. I'm kicking myself for not getting a solid shot, but after Ben and I dropped in, I couldn't see Carl along the ridge. All of a sudden I see him shoot into the bowl, mach 3, ripping down the slope. We were skiing above a 200 foot cliff mind you, didn't matter to Carl, he made it look easy. We had to traverse East a bit, then were able to drop cleanly down to the valley below. We agreed the steepest section was around 50 degrees, with a sustained slope of 40-45, with some rocks to negotiate around here and there.
We reached the apron and noticed Marc standing on top of the Boudoir. He then proceded to get some non-stop turns straight down the wide chute to just below where we were standing.
Marc's tracks down the Boudoir
The trek out was pretty easy actually. We took the high road, Marc took the low road. This is what the low road looked like….
Notice Marc loosing his pole
Carl took a video of Marc trekking across what looked like a semi-frozen lake. We all felt sorry for splitboarders at that moment.
We arrived at the car around 2pm or so, had a cold beer and tried to make sense of the day with everyone. Baba had snowshoed up the NE ridge, summited before we had even began the couloir climb, tried to find the Boudoir, got cliffed out, yelled at us across valley, got no response and just walked back to the car. There are no pictures of Baba cause none of us knew where he was the whole day. Marc took a similar ascent route, yelled at us from the summit when he noticed us on the ridge, had enough and straightlined it down the Boudoir. I'm still not sure if the route we took was a documented one, but it was fun and we're alive to tell the story, which is nice. We were definitely all over the place, combed the mountain over via 3 different routes.
Our line off the north side of the cirque
Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):