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Peak(s):  Redcloud Peak  -  14,034 feet
Sunshine Peak  -  14,001 feet
Point 13432 - 13,432 feet
Post Date:  06/08/2010
Date Climbed:   05/20/2010
Posted By:  fiddlinclimber

 7 Peaks in 4 Days Part 1   

The weather looked as if it would finally cooperate with our climbing and skiing/snowboarding plans, so I drove down to Lake City on Wednesday night to set up camp near the Redcloud/Sunshine trail head. It's not necessary to hike in and set up a base camp for these 14ers, but with the recent string of trail head vehicle break-ins and vandalism, I decided to hike in for a mile or so with all of my gear. As I left the trail head, a cloud moved in and started dumping snow.


I was having visions of spring powder! But it was not meant to be, as the snow quickly subsided, giving way to beautiful blue skies. After hiking for about 3/4 mile, I spotted some excellent lines on the Northwest Face of Point 13432. I decided to set up camp immediately and try to end the next day with a descent of this face and gully:


Day 1

The next morning, I got a late start, barely leaving camp by sunrise. This would turn out to be a common theme for the whole trip. The trail was completely dry, and the snow didn't start until just above treeline. I finally started skinning at around 12,400', and made it all the way up to about 13,800' before it got too steep. I started kicking steps, and was on the summit in no time. My new mountaineering boots work wonders! SO much easier than kicking steps with snowboard boots!

First views of Wetterhorn, Matterhorn, and Uncompahgre:
Sunshine from the Redcloud summit:

I was beginning to realize that the best snow on Redcloud was what I had just climbed on the north face. The east face also looked really nice. Unfortunately, neither of these lines fit into my plans, since I needed to head south towards Sunshine Peak, and then west to Point 13,432, and back to camp. So just before 8 AM, I strapped on my snowboard and headed south off the summit along the ridge towards Sunshine. At the first low point of the ridge, I took a left and dropped a small cornice into an east facing bowl. I made about 500 vertical feet of some excellent corn turns:

It was incredibly tempting to ride the line all the way to the valley floor, but I managed to lay off, and started boot packing back up towards the ridge. It soon became apparent that the east side of Sunshine also held the best snow. The west face was mostly wind scoured and bare. Here is a shot of Sunshine Peak's north ridge and east face from where I re-gained the ridge:

I summited Sunshine at about 10:30, and snowboarded back down the north ridge a ways. Then the board went back on my pack for a traverse/downclimb to the small amount of snow on the west face. I was then able to snowboard almost all the way to the low point of the ridge connecting Sunshine and Point 13,432. My tracks on the West Face can be faintly seen in the center of this picture:


The ridge over to Point 13,432 was a little harrier than I had expected:

I decided to give it a try, with the option of bailing out to the South Fork drainage if necessary. The new boots again made quick work of the steep snow, and the cornice was pretty easy to avoid. In no time, I was standing on the summit, looking right down my line towards camp:

I dropped in and made some of the best turns of the whole trip! The only turns that came close were those on the south face of Matterhorn. More about that one later... The snow in the gully was continuous all the way down to about 11,100', and in no time, I was looking for a way to cross Silver Creek to get back to camp. Looking back up the line:

I made it back to Lake City and hung out at the bar for about 6 hours while I waited for Ryan and Emily to drive from Golden to meet me for Wetterhorn, Matterhorn, and Uncompahgre.

Continue to Part 2 for Wetterhorn, Matterhorn, and Uncompahgre

Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):

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