Easy Snow Climbs

Colorado peak questions, condition requests and other info.
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cfischer
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Re: Easy Snow Climbs

Post by cfischer » Mon Apr 19, 2021 6:17 pm

We had a bit of an adventure. Forgetting that the access road to the Edwardian's trailhead was closed, we went there first; then over to do Boudoir and found the road was snowed in. Already behind schedule, we hiked up to the abandoned mine, and did a short little couloir (the name of which I do not know) just beyond the mine so my friend could get used to crampon and techniques. I'm looking at Cristo Couloir and Queen's Way next, but will be waiting for this newest snow to settle and consolidate, especially given Cristo's avalanche reputation.
ltlFish99
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Re: Easy Snow Climbs

Post by ltlFish99 » Wed Apr 21, 2021 1:27 pm

FWIW, queens way is certainly in a very beautiful setting.
I just read a recent trip report that stated the angel of shavano is in good shape. It's a little bit of a drive, but recommended by people quite often as a good beginner snow climb.
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Hiking_TheRockies
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Re: Easy Snow Climbs

Post by Hiking_TheRockies » Wed Apr 21, 2021 2:26 pm

I'd recommend Mt. Audubon in the Brainard Lake area, it's not super steep and only 9ish miles. It also has some epic couloirs, but it doesn't sound like your going to be doing anything of that level. Every time I've climbed it the wind was pretty noticeable, so I'd check the predicted conditions on Audubon before climbing it. I'm not sure what the snow situation is though, but it should be packed down around Brainard Lake, but it snowed up there recently so I'm not sure if you would be able to see the tracks of those up there before you.
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WVMountaineer
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Re: Easy Snow Climbs

Post by WVMountaineer » Fri Apr 23, 2021 10:46 am

Planning on going up Cristo tomorrow and taking 2 friends who are new to using crampons and ice axe. It'll be a good learning experience for them but the recent snow has me hesitant and I'm hopeful tomorrow it will have consolidated enough. I looked at CAIC and it doesn't seem like there's avy danger for the south aspect in Summit county but your opinions are desired. It was on my to-do for this winter but haven't taken any AIARE classes yet so roast me on that if you'd like. I'm just trying to make safe decisions. Does anyone have any feedback on going up the Cristo Couloir tomorrow?

Thanks!
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Agstrohmeier
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Re: Easy Snow Climbs

Post by Agstrohmeier » Fri Apr 23, 2021 11:10 am

WVMountaineer wrote:
Fri Apr 23, 2021 10:46 am
Planning on going up Cristo tomorrow and taking 2 friends who are new to using crampons and ice axe. It'll be a good learning experience for them but the recent snow has me hesitant and I'm hopeful tomorrow it will have consolidated enough. I looked at CAIC and it doesn't seem like there's avy danger for the south aspect in Summit county but your opinions are desired. It was on my to-do for this winter but haven't taken any AIARE classes yet so roast me on that if you'd like. I'm just trying to make safe decisions. Does anyone have any feedback on going up the Cristo Couloir tomorrow?

Thanks!
I haven't climbed cristo, but it has been on my list. It looks like while it's the south face of quandary there are some SE aspects which could have wind slabs right now. I am pretty avy-risk adverse, but we crossed it off our list for this weekend for that reason. Some with more first hand experience may have better input.
https://avalanche.state.co.us/caic/obs/ ... s_id=66764
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WVMountaineer
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Re: Easy Snow Climbs

Post by WVMountaineer » Fri Apr 23, 2021 5:42 pm

No further input needed. That report is enough of a concern to elevate the risk above my comfort zone. I will not be attempting Cristo tomorrow and will use it as a conditioning day instead.

Thanks for your response Agstrohmeier
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cfischer
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Re: Easy Snow Climbs

Post by cfischer » Sun Apr 25, 2021 12:16 pm

This is actually something I've been wondering, and it may just speak to a need to do an AIARE refresher, but I'm curious about some of your risk assessment methods. Personally, if CAIC is showing yellow at any altitude, I don't go out. I read the reports and watch how things shift and change from day to day, but play it really conservatively. On the other hand, if it's showing yellow, some slopes can still be safer than others depending on their aspect, location, and elevation. Obviously the assumption of personal risk varies from person to person; do most people tend to assess the avalanche risk based on the specific problems and the specific route, or do you all tend to (as I do) wait for CAIC to show all green before even entertaining the idea of heading into avalanche terrain?
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Jorts
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Re: Easy Snow Climbs

Post by Jorts » Sun Apr 25, 2021 9:53 pm

cfischer wrote:
Sun Apr 25, 2021 12:16 pm
do most people tend to assess the avalanche risk based on the specific problems and the specific route, or do you all tend to (as I do) wait for CAIC to show all green before even entertaining the idea of heading into avalanche terrain?
I tend to assess it but realize I’m not infallible so I leave wide margins. The problem with climbing couloirs is you don’t really know what’s going on above you, and your exposure is prolonged. Wind loading generally loads the upper portion of coolies more so than the lower half. Additionally, it’s colder up high. One might ascend a couple hundred feet and find a well bonded thin layer of hot snow with little wind loading only to be surprised by thick, high density, poorly bonded slabs another 1500ft higher.

If the CAIC forecast is for moderate hazard near/above treeline with the problem being wind slabs, a lot of the best snow climbs will be suspect. West facing, deeply inset coolies could offer a safer alternative generally.
Last edited by Jorts on Mon Apr 26, 2021 7:35 am, edited 1 time in total.
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daway8
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Re: Easy Snow Climbs

Post by daway8 » Sun Apr 25, 2021 10:31 pm

cfischer wrote:
Sun Apr 25, 2021 12:16 pm
This is actually something I've been wondering, and it may just speak to a need to do an AIARE refresher, but I'm curious about some of your risk assessment methods. Personally, if CAIC is showing yellow at any altitude, I don't go out. I read the reports and watch how things shift and change from day to day, but play it really conservatively. On the other hand, if it's showing yellow, some slopes can still be safer than others depending on their aspect, location, and elevation. Obviously the assumption of personal risk varies from person to person; do most people tend to assess the avalanche risk based on the specific problems and the specific route, or do you all tend to (as I do) wait for CAIC to show all green before even entertaining the idea of heading into avalanche terrain?
Depends on what you mean by "heading into avalanche terrain." If that's a generic statement about going into the mountains in general during winter/spring (since there is avalanche terrain all over the place in the mountains) then you'd basically have to be a summer only hiker (which I was until a few years ago) except for a couple days here and there.

This past winter I did 23 summits and I don't think any of those were on all green days but the vast majority of them were ridge routes where I generally was not on or under slopes of an angle that tends to slide.

But if by "heading into avalanche terrain" you mean going along routes that are known to have major avalanches basically every year which you can't simply reroute to avoid (for example Castle & Conundrum) then I'm one of those conservative types who waits for all green (if you skim my profile you'll note a lack of snowflakes for those and similar peaks...)
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