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 Peak(s):  Mt. Lindsey  -  14,042 feet
 Post Date:  05/20/2011
 Date Climbed:   05/19/2011
 Posted By:  pioletski

 Schralpin' the Pow on Lindsey   


Costly, but worth it...



Solo climb and summit ski of Mt Lindsey, 5/19/2011
9 miles, 3800' climbed and skied

I am indebted to Schralp the Gnar for instigating this one. (Schralp is one of those 14er members whom I "almost" know, from conversations and comments in this forum, even though I'v still never had the pleasure of meeting him.) On Wednesday afternoon I read Schralp's TR from his solo climb of Lindsey last Sunday, and immediately thought to myself, "self - why not?" I checked the weather - the southern Sangres seemed to be the only reasonable place to go - and made a couple of phone calls, but my usual partners weren't available. (Most of them dwell in that Dantesque circle known as 9 to 5, 5 days a week.) So I finished up what I was doing, loaded the car, and headed south around 4 pm. Being on vacation allows for a wonderful spontaneity!

At around 8 pm I reached 10,440 feet on the Huerfano road, 1/2 mile from the Lily Lake trailhead. It was here that the first mishap occurred: I was trying to punch through a snowdrift that required just a little more clearance than I had... and upon backing off, the rear end of my truck slid a little to the right and struck a stout low-hanging tree branch, shattering my right taillight. Needless to say, I didn't push it any further, and camped on the spot. (The tree was unharmed, by the way.)

I saddled up at and hit the trail at 5:45 Thursday morning, under a beautifully mixed early morning sky...

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... passed the Lily Lake trailhead...

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... and continued up the valley. The weather was trying hard to clear; I had intermittent views of landmarks such as Point 12,410.

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I was following a deeply postholed track which seemed a little over-eager, it took off straight up a steep hill about 1/4 mile too early. After trying to follow it I dropped back down to the valley floor; passing the crag below 12,410 and its attendant boulderfield, I turned uphill again and skinned into Nipple Creek:

Image

On skis, the path of least resistance at this point is to stay in the creekbed. In fact this is a very efficient route, and I gained altitude fast, while my mind started to play the tricks that it usually will when I have nobody to talk to:

"Up on Nipple Creek, she sends me
If I spring a leak, she mends me..."

Image

The Iron Nipple hove into view:

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At this point I was enjoying the best weather and visibility that I would see all day. To the south and west it was completely socked in; to the east and north there appeared to be a distant storm but blue sky closer to me.

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I attained the 12,520' pass at the top of the Nipple Creek basin and looked back at my skin track in brilliant sunshine...

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... and turned up the ridge.

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Halfway up to the Lindsey/Iron Nipple saddle I found myself stopping to layer up, as the wind suddenly picked up and clouds began rolling in. The sun had felt warm to this point, but now I was reminded that the air was actually fairly cold. The cloud cover did allow me a rare opportunity, to take a photo directly into the sun, here's the resulting portrait of Lindsey:

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Looking up from the saddle at 13,100', I chose the obvious direct couloir for my ascent route. The Sangres had received more than the predicted inch of snow, it was more like 4 - 6", and the wind had redistributed that. Nonetheless, I was satisfied with the stability of the snow on the climb, though I noticed that areas with a little west exposure were best; places that faced due north were deeply wind-loaded and a little slabby. This would determine my choice of descent route.

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I reached the summit at 10:45:

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Pigozzi-style self-portrait with Lindsey's little brother (13,097') in the background. This peak is not named on my USGS map. In honor of Lindsey Vonn, if it truly has no name, I suggest naming it "Reed" (i.e. Lindsey's little brother)...

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In about 10 minutes I was ready to ski.

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I have mentioned the questionable quality of the snow on this particular day. Because of this I was acutely aware of being completely on my own, and chose the sissy line down rather than the more deeply wind-loaded couloir to the direct north. I dropped a few turns, then traversed left, dropped a few more, etc., essentially following my boot track down, over snow that I had looked at directly a few minutes before. Unfortunately it was pretty well infested with sharks, i.e. barely concealed rocks - although the turns were nice I left a fair amount of p-tex on the mountain. Call that mishap #2. Oh well, it is an inescapable fact that mountaineering skis get trashed!

At 12,800' I took off my skis and began the battle into the teeth of a 40 mph wind to regain the 13,100' saddle. Being taunted by these critters on the top (elk? bighorns? couldn't tell for sure) didn't help:

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Don't get me wrong, however - climbing under full-on winter conditions (even if it is late May) is especially rewarding, as many on this forum can attest. Besides, once I gained the saddle, I got to put my skis back on and high-tail it back into the Huerfano valley on really nice snow surrounded by the spectacular wintry scenery. Meanwhile, one more mishap: my ice axe caught on a tree branch and ripped the attachment point off my pack.

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The storm looked pretty solidly settled in as I returned to my truck and left the scene.

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"Mishap" tally for the trip:
Ice axe loop: $1.50
Ski tune: $50
New taillight: $230
Skiing a Sangres 14er in this pathetically dry season: priceless!

And by the way, Schralp - just to put your mind at rest - I kept an eye out and didn't see any frightful fiends.

Thanks for reading!



Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):
 


  • Comments or Questions
otherbrotherdarryl

Sweet!     2011-05-20 09:31:22
On behalf of little brothers and DH racing fans everywhere, I applaud the name of ”Reed” for Lindsey's twin peak. Congrats on another safe solo trip!


randalmartin


Nicely done!     2011-05-20 09:57:40
Solid work. Those are some stellar pictures. Glad you were safe.


dubsho3000


chupacabra?     2011-05-20 10:35:12
were those goat-suckers?


SchralpTheGnar


you're welcome     2011-05-20 11:33:33
Those do look like goat suckers, you were lucky to make it out alive. That boot pack that left the valley 1/4 mile too early was mine, I hugged the cliff bands all through that valley.


gb


Nice one.     2011-05-20 12:29:28
You might just be able to eke out some more Sangre summits yet. Still snowing!


KansasBoarder


Nice man!     2011-05-20 13:48:49
Packing up the car to head down that way...could be a fun outing tomorrow.

Great minds think alike, or for themselves, or like themselves...


zdero1


Reference     2011-05-20 16:20:03
Enjoyed your The Band reference.


Michael York


killer     2011-05-20 16:54:06
sweet report, gotta love this may weather... congras on the summit and successful descent, nice work!!


benners


Good on ya Matt!     2011-05-20 17:17:18
About to head that way myself, hope we get better weather though . Have a great time in the Juans if you end up heading that way!


jameseroni


Winter     2011-05-20 18:04:15
It's not gone yet. The date is just a date! As for the tree, I am disappointed. You should've given it a hug.

If you ever want a ski partner let me know. I'd be down for a mellow line like that, as I don't own a beacon yet. I go mostly solo so really don't have the need for one...


BillMiddlebrook


Crazy Spring     2011-05-22 15:53:07
Nice job, Matt. Get in, get out, pay a few bucks. At least you didn't have to call for a tow! I'm sure you're going to hear this from someone else soon... had you waited until Saturday, you would have been treated to a fine powder day on the north couloir.


Dancesatmoonrise


Nice     2011-05-24 10:45:51
Nice solo, Matt.

The sissy line usually leaves plenty of future lines for the soloist. : )

So, #48?



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