| 6 Peaks in 4 Days
This spring has been a little frustrating in terms of climbing 14ers. I've been limited to only getting out on weekends (until now), and it seemed like the weather gods were never cooperating with me. Every weekend that the sun was out, I was out of town, and every weekend I wanted to get on the high peaks, the unsettled winter weather just wouldn't let up. I was still skiing powder at Beaver Creek in early May, though, so its not like I'm totally complaining.
Anyways, in the past 4 days I was able to tag 6 peaks (5 new ones for me), ski some awesome corn, and crank out a lot of vertical. It felt really good to get out there. Below is a brief recap of my little trip and some photos. This should provide good information for folks hoping to hit these peaks soon.
Thursday May 20 - Shavano and Tabeguache
I left Vail at 3:45am and headed down to the Blank Gulch trailhead... started hiking around 6:15am. The weather was perfect. I wore my trail runners until I hit the angel snowfield, then switched to AT boots for the hike up to the summit. Once on top of Shavano, I was relieved to see clear skies and know that I'd finally make it over to Tabeguache. For some reason, despite the fact that its not really that challenging, Tab has been my nemesis this year. I've been up Shavano several times planning to make the traverse, but each time was prevented from making the traverse due to weather. This time I finally got it, and was definitely relieved. The snow on the Tab side of the saddle was solid for booting, which made it go pretty quick. I had dropped my skis on top of Shavano, and when I got back to pick them up, I had a couple thousand feet of perfect spring corn as my reward.
Tabeguache from Shavano
Tabeguache side of the traverse
Sawatch looking coated!
Looking back at Shavano from the road. I skied from just below to summit down the east ridge a little, then cut hard south (through the rocky patches) and skied the open area under the south ridge (great snow) and then down the body of the angel
Friday May 21 - Lindsey
After Shav/Tab I drove down to Mt. Lindsey's trailhead. Well, as close as I could get... the road is blocked by a fallen tree as soon as you hit the forest sign, so its a few miles of walking (with quite a few snow drifts) to the actual trailhead. We started around 3:15am and were postholing in the snowdrifts well before the sun came up. Some time was lost when we went too far before crossing the river, and we ended up missing the gully that runs all the way up to the upper basin. Once we finally made it up there, the rest of the day was pretty straightforward. The snow was still solid in the upper basin, and it was a quick jaunt up to the Iron Nipple / Lindsey saddle, and then a very fun snow climb up the NW couloir to the ridge. The scenery in that area is unbelievable. It took me about 3.5 hrs to get back to my jeep from the summit...having to encounter some serious postholing once I got back down to the river!
Some scenics from the upper basin...
Lindsey's snow climb route
In the couloir
The summit ridge
Upper basin again... I really like this shot
Postholing on the way out
Saturday May 22 - Humboldt
After climbing Lindsey I drove up to the South Colony Lakes road closure. There is a 30 foot wide stream running across the road just past the closure, but someone (forest service?) has built a really great bridge just to the left of the road. The road is really starting to melt out fast... you're walking for 20-30 minutes before you can start skinning, and even at that point, its probably faster to walk... the snow is intermittent for about 800-1000 (vertical) feet past the closure. Finding my way through the forest was no fun, but eventually I made it to the SE flank snowfield. I skinned until 13,500, and then just booted it the rest of the way. The summit was WINDY! I almost lost my backpack and skis! The skiing was superb... perfect corn. Humboldt's SE flank is a really nice ski line... amazing views, and you can really open it up and rip it after the first 500 feet.
Humboldt and the Crestones from the road
On the summit of Humboldt with the Crestones behind me
The upper section of the ski descent was a little bony...
But the last 2000 feet were perfect!
It was HOT out by the time I was walking back down the road
Driving out at dusk... right before a major dust storm started to blow in
Sunday May 23 - Belford/Oxford
My original plan was to climb the Crestones on Sunday, but I was solo, and with 60mph winds forecasted, I decided that wasn't a great idea. So instead of just driving back to Vail, I figured I'd finish off the Sawatch range. I was able to hike up Belford's NW gully in trail shoes until 13,550, and then switched to ski boots. The wind was absolutely ridiculous! I wanted to drop right of the East side of Belford... but again, I was solo, so that wasn't really in the cards. I skied down to the low point in the saddle, booted up to Oxford, skied back down to the saddle, and booted back to Belford. It took me about 2 hours to make the Bel-Ox-Bel traverse, mainly because I spent a lot of time on all fours trying not to get blown off the mountain by the wind. The skiing in the NW gully of Belford was soooo much fun! I was able to ski to treeline, and then it was a quick hike back to the trailhead (even where the trail is covered in snow, its so packed that you aren't really postholing at all, even in the afternoon).
Sun rising as I was hiking up to Missouri Gulch
Belford's NW gully
The ridge from Belford to Oxford
Looking back at Belford (from Oxford) and the east slopes of Belford
Missouri Mountain looking great
The top 500 feet of the NW gully was wind compacted but still pretty soft
Below that is was pure corn...
Fun skiing was had here
Looking back at most of the line
Overall it was a successful 4 days. It was great to have some nice weather (even the wind wasn't too bad). I got in about 20,000 feet of vertical, which felt pretty darn good.
Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):