| Audobon-Paiute Combo
Peaks – Audobon (13,223), Paiute (13,089)
Drainage – Mitchell Lake/Blue Lake
RT/Vertical – 13 miles (from road closure), approximately 3600 ft
Crew – Myself, Kevin (papillon), Sarah (wooderson), Kevin (kevink)
Although a documented route, this is mainly for conditions purposes, as well as the right way to conduct a post-climb meal.
While celebrating my friend Matt's birthday (del_sur) at the fine establishment of the Falling Rock Taphouse Tuesday night, Kevin (papillon) and I contemplated some options for the weekend, ending with an IPW combo of Audobon-Paiute. You'd think celebrating a birthday midweek would slow someone down, but not when you put 10 mountain crazies at a table in the middle of a taphouse with over 80 beers to choose from. Conversations ranged from mountain goals to Jackson Hole vs. Snowbird steepness arguments with Vince (rockymtn69), to the filming locations of Aspen Extreme to the hopiest beer on the menu. Vince also got a pretty good kick out of the ABV of Pliny the Elder, as well as stories of people climbing Pyramid thinking its Maroon.
Fastfoward to Friday night, Kevin and Sarah let me crash on their couch after some last minute snacks, including a roast beef and provolone from Jimmy Johns. After a few Modus and some route research, we hit the sack in hopes of a short(er) day. Alarm goes off at 5am, KevinK arrives around 6am and we head through Boulder to Brainerd Lake TH by 7:30am. Unfortunately, the road was closed at the fee area due to construction so we immediately have to recalculate our timeframe for the day. We hike the extra 3 miles to Mitchell Lake TH and are on the hard pack trail finally.
condition of road (not tht it matters now)
IPW from Brainard Lake
SE Ridge route
It was getting pretty warm, so after a de-layer, we eventually reach the lake and try to find a nice spot to leave the trail and make our way for the SE Ridge of Audobon. Around the west end of the lake, we began to head directly north, trying to keep post-holing to a minimum (we left the snowshoes in the car).
ramp we used from Mitchell Lake
The slope to reach the ridge was mellow for the most part. The upper sections provided some obstacles to overcome, but we were able to break trail through the thin snow in the willows, up some snow to the ridge proper.
Looking back at Mitchell Lake from SE Ridge
Aaron Johnson's SP page describes a class 3 prominent notch to contend with on this route and since the ridge was longer than expected, we were all wondering where it was. KevinK got ahead of the group at one point and we hear an obvious "woa" up ahead. We catch up and see what he was talking about – an overhanging notch with a not so obvious downclimb. We eventually found a route down and to the right with some exciting exposure to boot.
Papillon traversing across the notch
looking back on the SE ridge route
After the notch, there was one more class 3 section involving a sporty move or two then just open class 2 tundra to the summit.
Southern IPW conditions
ridge to Paiute
Wind picked up a bit on the summit so we grabbed some grub and were quickly en route to Paiute via its East Ridge. The ridge is just class 2 scrambling pretty much the entire way, sans a section or two after the saddle on the ascent to Paiute. Some shots of the traverse…..
looking back on the ridge
KevinK on the ridge
Traversing the snow section
Snow wasn't much of an issue along the traverse, one sporty section of snow which was in its beginning stages of cornicing and then immediately followed by a short class 3 move around a small tower. Took around a hour to complete the entire 0.85 mile traverse.
The descent, up to this point, was still up in the air. We couldn't really see the gullies from the summit of Paiute that ran off the ridge to Toll. Kevin and Sarah were contemplating heading back on the traverse over Audobon and down the standard class 1 route. I elected to head down the SE ridge to see what the deal was. I rounded a ridge and found a nice, mellow gully that was filled with deep snow. Thanks to some nice glissade ops, we were down in no time.
It was obviously later in the day than we had expected, but thanks to some mindbending views of Mt.Toll to the South and a sublime sunset, along with minimal postholing, the descent was a great success.
more glissading with Toll's N.Face as a backdrop - not bad
Kevin and Sarah w/ descent route in background
Toll from Blue Lake
2 dudes and a chick
Image #25 (not yet uploaded)
Kind of strange how Mitchell Lake was lower, yet completely frozen and Blue Lake was not and higher in elevation. Impressive sight nonetheless.
We had trouble finding the trail from Blue to Mitchell lake, but were able to follow a faint skin track and eventually ran right in to it, just west of Mitchell. From there it was simply putting on foot in front of the other, with a cold modus waiting in the car for inspiration.
Back at the car, we ate some chips, slugged an IPA and made way for Southern Sun in Boulder. Here's what ensued….
All washed down with some FYIPA. F**k Yeah.
Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):