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Four Great Traverses in Winter?

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Four Great Traverses in Winter?

Postby seano732 » Wed Jan 23, 2013 12:21 pm

No, I'm not planning on doing it, but I'm curious if anyone has ever attempted/ completed it. I've read the LB-Blanca in winter TR about a dozen times, and it gives me the cold sweats EVERY time! :shock: So I was wondering if anyone has ever had the stones/ courage/ mental disorder to try all 4 in calendar winter. Peace!
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Re: Four Great Traverses in Winter?

Postby I Man » Wed Jan 23, 2013 12:34 pm

As far as I know, no one has done it...but I could be wrong. There are a few on this site with the goal in mind...and at least 1 I know of who is "half way" there.

LB-Blanca and the Crestones are done fairly regularly as far as winter goes. Wilson and the Bells are on a whole different level.

I know of 1 person who has done the Bells traverse in winter, not sure about Wilson.

The amount of people who have done the Bells or Mt Wilson / El D in winter (without traverse) can likely be counted on your hands.

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Re: Four Great Traverses in Winter?

Postby seano732 » Wed Jan 23, 2013 12:49 pm

Thanks for the info, I Man! VERY impressed by anyone who would make this a goal, let alone have done 2 out of the four! :shock: Just out of curiosity, do you think the small number of winter ascents in the Wilson/ El D group are due to the approach, objective hazards both on the approach and the climbs themselves, the technical nature of the routes, or just a combo of all three? As far as the Bells, it's my understanding that Montezuma Basin in winter is just not a good place to be.... and then you actually have to do the climb! :wft: Peace!
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Re: Four Great Traverses in Winter?

Postby I Man » Wed Jan 23, 2013 12:56 pm

The avalanche danger, far and away, is the reason. Feel free to send me a PM if you have any specific questions. Traverses aside, the objective hazard on those peaks are far FAR outside any rational person's risk tolerance.

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Re: Four Great Traverses in Winter?

Postby sgladbach » Wed Jan 23, 2013 1:08 pm

I don't think anyone has attempted all four, but Aron did the Bells traverse.

After my West Ridge climb on El Diente, I think the El Diente - Wilson traverse would be reasonable under the conditions that Sarah did El Diente. The full TR of her trip (as well as her Wilson trip from Kilpacker trip) are out there somewhere, but they were originally posted on 14erworld, so I believe it may only be available in some personal archives.

I know from experience that the West Ridge of El D is much harder than the El D-Wilson traverse. I'd use the standard Kilpacker routes on each (in THOSE conditions.) I'd be game, but I don't know if it's been done.

I did the Crestone traverse March 6-7 , 2004 and found it quite reasonable under those snow conditions. I ascended Broken Hand Pass and descended the North Couloir to Bear's playground. I descended to upper S. colony lakes and have also done that Ascent/descent in winter when bagging Columbia Pt. I have done that traverse approximately a dozen times and I think the winter version was one of the easiest. (remember, the Crestones often have spring conditions by early March.) MAD MIKE has done it from the west. There is another TR out there somewhere on a success from the east. i believe it may have been mike Via.

As you said, the LB- Blancadone and done.

So, yeah, I think it can be done and is a worthy goal for Mad Mike (only guy with 2 of them?) or mountainmicah83 (or others.) The Bells traverse is the key. Danger-uuuuuus.
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Re: Four Great Traverses in Winter?

Postby RoanMtnMan » Wed Jan 23, 2013 2:57 pm

I Man wrote:The amount of people who have done the Bells or Mt Wilson / El D in winter (without traverse) can likely be counted on your hands.


Depending on how many fingers you have I guess. The Bells have been getting bagged in winter longer than I have been alive. Just not by folks that post TR's.
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Re: Four Great Traverses in Winter?

Postby I Man » Wed Jan 23, 2013 3:00 pm

RoanMtnMan wrote:
I Man wrote:The amount of people who have done the Bells or Mt Wilson / El D in winter (without traverse) can likely be counted on your hands.


Depending on how many fingers you have I guess. The Bells have been getting bagged in winter longer than I have been alive. Just not by folks that post TR's.


Yea, fair enough for sure...and good point on the TR thing. It is pretty difficult to measure something like this...either way, getting the Bells in winter is a huge deal.

Thanks Steve for that awesome post and information. I imagine over the next several years this goal will be accomplished by someone.
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Re: Four Great Traverses in Winter?

Postby RoanMtnMan » Wed Jan 23, 2013 3:08 pm

I am guilty as well. I tend to forget all of the folks before me. I know Lou Dawson climbed the N Face of N Maroon in winter 74' and he didn't think he was the first. That was almost 40 years ago! In winter 76' he climbed the NE face of N Maroon and thought it was the winter third ascent. And he was just one of many legends hanging around that area in the time period.
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Re: Four Great Traverses in Winter?

Postby seano732 » Wed Jan 23, 2013 3:47 pm

Well I guess I can die a happy man now; Steve Gladbach posted to a thread I started! :bow: Seriously, thanks to all for the info, and great point Caleb, it's important to remember there was winter mountaineering in CO before the Internets.....To me this just reinforces a point that I think has been made here before: winter climbing in Colorado can prepare you for some very big things.... Come to think of it, maybe the reverse is true... I agree with I Man, eventually someone will do this, and then Bill will have to come up with some kind of mega-gnarly snowflake icon. :-D Of course, then someone will try and do all 4 in one season..... Peace!
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Re: Four Great Traverses in Winter?

Postby I Man » Wed Jan 23, 2013 3:50 pm

seano732 wrote:Well I guess I can die a happy man now; Steve Gladbach posted to a thread I started! :bow: Seriously, thanks to all for the info, and great point Caleb, it's important to remember there was winter mountaineering in CO before the Internets.....To me this just reinforces a point that I think has been made here before: winter climbing in Colorado can prepare you for some very big things.... Come to think of it, maybe the reverse is true... I agree with I Man, eventually someone will do this, and then Bill will have to come up with some kind of mega-gnarly snowflake icon. :-D Of course, then someone will try and do all 4 in one season..... Peace!


Someone will likely try the full list in winter, in fact, people have tried. Someone will do it eventually, but it will be VERY dangerous. I bet this person would simultaneously do the 4 traverses in winter.

A CO Legend recently told me that climbing in winter in CO will prepare you for anything on the planet (except perhaps the arctic peaks up North in the Yukon and Alaska)...but we sure do get some winds, cold and weather here!

Great topic. Thanks for posting. I hope some more chime in with their thoughts!
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Re: Four Great Traverses in Winter?

Postby Dave B » Wed Jan 23, 2013 4:15 pm

I Man wrote:A CO Legend recently told me that climbing in winter in CO will prepare you for anything on the planet


Except glacier travel.
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Re: Four Great Traverses in Winter?

Postby RoanMtnMan » Wed Jan 23, 2013 4:16 pm

I agree, capping those 4 traverses in winter would prepare one for a lot. The things it doesn't prepare for though are high altitude, technical ice, glacier travel and coastal range weather. However, one would be hard pressed to find a better training ground than Colorado in winter to toughen a climber. Our winds, temps, terrain, and dicey snowpack are a potpourri of nastiness.
Last edited by RoanMtnMan on Wed Jan 23, 2013 4:18 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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