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Peak(s):  Grizzly Peak  -  13,997 feet
"Drift Peak"  -  13,915 feet
"Mountain Boy Peak"  -  13,204 feet
Date Posted:  05/27/2014
Date Climbed:   05/26/2014
Author:  bergsteigen
Additional Members:   edlins
 If the weather forecast gives you lemons...   

Day 1: "Mountain Boy Peak"

Trailheads: Independence Pass & 11,500' switchback on 82
Mileage: 5.27
Elevation Gain/ski: 2,541' / 3,064'
Partners: Scott & Nate

Another weekend, another series of Plan A's, B's and C's etc. I figured there would be weather windows each day, but for how long? Didn't feel confident to go after big lines, so it was time to find those pesky 13ers that I have on my ski list that would be short and sweet.

Mountain Boy, or Pt 13,198 was one of those that has easy access from Independence Pass, and could afford a great view of many objectives nearby. We had planned an early 5am start, but ended up sitting the in the car waiting for an hour or so for the sun to burn off some fog/clouds. From the parking lot, it was a short skin over to the top of Snowfence Ridge, to wait for the first drop.


Skinning from Independence Pass

We waited quite a while for the snow to warm up after a rather hard freeze. In that time we could see over 20+ people heading our way to join in the fun of opening weekend on the pass. Nothing like having to drop a cornice with yapping & whining dogs everywhere, including where you are planning on landing. But eventually I found an opening and dropped down a few hundred feet, to make the transition to skinning up the next slope up Mountain Boy Peak.

Mountain Boy, Igloo and Grizzly

Nate about to drop in, with the Inde Party group chaos

Looking back on first drop from climb up Mountain Boy Peak

Booting up Mountain Boy Peak

With the other group of 9 on the summit of Mountain Boy Peak, our small group of 3 quickly transitions and drops the slope before the rest of the party. Quite luscious corn turns all the way down in one push!

Grizzly! Looks fat!

Someone skiing Mountain Boy

We contour over to the north to skin up Mountain Boy Hill, so that we have one more final drop before my car stashed at the switchback. The top most turns were sloppy, but once over the rollover were once again nice corn.

Looking down on switchback car shuttle from Mountain Boy Hill

Nate skiing down Mountain Boy Hill

While not a peak I had planned on doing this weekend, it was a fun day out with my winter BC ski partners. This route is written up in the Dawson ski guide, but it makes more sense now that I got to see in in person, since there are so many ups and downs with options.

Day 2: "Drift Peak"

Trailhead: Mayflower Gulch
Mileage: 6.65
Elevation Gain: 3,044'
Partners: Scott & Nate

Sunday's weather looked atrocious, so we went with the closest peak to Scott's condo in Silverthorne that was the most appealing. We got a view of it on the return from Inde Pass, so we knew it was in from the summit and looking really fat. Now we just had to hope for a decent freeze on the peak.

Drift Peak from road

We started from the parking lot with a dusting of snow. Much better than the rain that was hitting the windshield lower down! The snow got progressively deeper the further up the drainage we went. The snow held our skis, but we knew the lower section had not frozen well.

Sunrise on Jacque Peak

Once we started up the ridge, the freeze got better. So once we transitioned to booting, it was pretty firm. Except where there were rocks, and top was pretty rocky on this part of the ridge.

Skinning up to the ridge

Corniced ridge

Booting up into the snowy clouds

Got to the top and transitioned first to see if we could find a weather window. The clouds periodically lifted slightly, so that we could see the start of the west ridge on Quandary and some of the ridge over to Fletcher, but not much. We dropped as soon as the clouds parted a little, and hoped it would stay. We went down the nicely powdered slope with various levels of visibility that slowly improved the lower down we got. The extra snow from the night before and that day turned the ski that could have been on nasty painful hardpack, into something quite pleasant.

Scott dropping the first pitch

Nate skiing the upper section

Scott throwing up some powder

Exit gully

Looking back on Drift Peak

Day 1: Grizzly Peak A

Trailhead: ~11,000' switchback on 82
Mileage: 11.43
Elevation Gain: 5,458'
Partners: Scott

Due to our trip up Mountain Boy, neither Scott nor I could get Grizzly out of our heads. We could see a way to Grizzly from the highway, that would involve extra elevation gain. But waiting to late June for the Lincoln Creek Rd to open, did not sound like fun. I knew the weather on Monday would be the best of the 3 days, but how good? Would there be a freeze? Would the clouds clear early enough on Sunday night? Lots of questions, not many answers. So after eating lunch at the condo, I watched the weather channel radar for as long as I could keep my eyes open. Ate an early dinner and called it a night. With a 1:30am wake up, going to bed at 6pm works pretty well if you're exhausted!

From the parking area for the ghost town of Independence, we start down the slope to hopefully find a snowbridge over the Roaring Fork Creek. Thankfully after a bit of searching, one is found! Let's hope it remains for the afternoon... After that it's a pleasant skin up the Independence Creek drainage on perfectly skinnable snow. A good hard freeze!

Williams Group from Independence Creek

From the top of the drainage, we now had a significant drop down into the Grizzly Creek drainage. A pretty steep entrance with a giant cornice to our left on frozen hardpack. It was like a deep tissue massage for the feet, quite painful! But ever so much faster than booting down!

Grizzly from the Pass

Dropping down into Grizzly Creek drainage

Down in the chilly Grizzly Creek drainage, we transition back to skinning and make our way closer to the prize of Grizzly. In the shade it was quite chilly, but as soon as we hit the sun, it was like an oven! Solar heating was on!

Odd animal tracks... dragging something?

Approaching Grizzly

At the base of the chute, we strap on our crampons and make our way up the debris field, sicking close to the climbers left side to get the colder firmer snow. A lot more fresh snow from the night before had accumulated in the couloir, and it made for slow going at the start. Above, the snow was much colder and travel was easier.

The Chute!

Scott kicking steps up couloir

Looking north from route

At the top of the chute it's only about a 0.1mi to the actual summit, but Scott doesn't really want to go there. He's a skier, not into peaks. So after a little bit of convincing, I get him to walk over to the summit for a quick pano before returning. Then it's super fun powder time! About 4-6" inches of fresh snow was our prize for the extra miles and vert from the highway. If only it didn't take so long to climb, I would have loved to go back for seconds!

Pano from summit

Tracks from summit to top of chute

Scott dropping in

Powder turns!

My turn to hit the powder!

Scott starting down the middle section

Scott in the chunky middle section

Scott on entering the lower section

A look back up the chute

Once out of the chute, we found another little drop to the right, before gliding much of the Grizzly Creek drainage back to our return route. So quick, easy and fun at this point. Soon to become a sloppy slow reclimb back to the saddle with Inde Creek.

Leaving the Grizzly drainage, after a fun ski

The reascend not looking fun...

Looking back on Grizzly from reclimb

Looking back on the route to Grizzly

As soon as I got high enough on the Inde Creek side, I threw on my skis again for a fairly pleasant slide down Independence Creek drainage. Had to apply some wax to my skis to combat the red snirt, and then the going got really quick on the clean snow, and moderate on the snirt. Best way to combat the snirt that I've found so far.

Got back to the snow bridge, to find it still solid enough to cross. Whether it will be there next week, is up for debate.

Snow bridge over Roaring Fork Creek

I'll add in the POV video(s) once I get them done. Hoping for some powder shots!

My GPS Tracks on Google Maps (made from a .GPX file upload):

Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36 37 38 39 40

Comments or Questions
5/28/2014 2:34am
Way to get after it. Freaking sick.

Sorry for bringing the party...
5/28/2014 3:11am
I don't usually like to tour with groups that big, but the corn skiing was prime! Glad you got to chute the grizz

5/28/2014 4:04am
way to get to Grizzly. Very cool.

5/28/2014 4:38am
well done. also, often times badger tracks look 'draggy' like that...

5/28/2014 5:32am
Congrats for getting the Grizz couloir!!! Freeze Sun night definitely set up an awesome Monday on the pass! I was curious about the same approach of Grizzly (from town of independence) and my friends thought I was crazy to suggest it! We ended up getting photos of Grizzly from #1 & 2 of Geissler instead. Definitely impressed and now there's a report for future reference. Thank you!

Nice work and TR!
5/28/2014 6:55pm
I know this trip was fully fueled by the Whole Foods lunch! ;)

5/29/2014 4:07pm
Natalie - The forecast had holes. Sunday was horrible, but that's why we chose something close to home. Easier to turn around on those!

PaliKona - The season is too short to miss!

rangercarl - I should have expected the chaos, but it's been a month or so since I've been to a ski resort, forgot about the gaggle of people. Hard to get into my Zen-space to huck a cornice with that much going on! Corn was good!

doggler - Have to credit Scott for spotting the way, and then convincing my skeptical self that it could be done! It was so close when on Mountain Boy, that as long as we had the time and the snow, we could get there!

swbackcountry - A badger? Hmmm maybe a fat/tired badger, haha!

--bb-- Glad to provide the beta! It's one of the main reasons I write all these TR's: beta & conditions. Now you just need to convince your friends the early season conditions are worth it!

Caroline - Oh yes, healthy paleo meals keep me fueled up for these adventures! As well as wonderful company!

5/29/2014 4:45pm
The skier chick is hot! Nothing like a good looking skier girl! Way to go young lady.
Climbed the ridge between Atlantic and Drift this past weekend and noticed snowmobilers up there. Wondering what they were up to, then noticed they were skiers. Was that your crew?
cool that you are trying to ski the 14ers. When are you going to take on some of the more challenging peaks? I'll join. Have skied all of the 14ers except for culebra ($$) and Wilson.

6/3/2014 3:45pm
are prohibited in Mayflower Gulch. That crew was about three hours behind us after shuttling up one at a time. It's a good thing they hauled the sled out of the area after shuttling because I was looking for a license plate.

4/2/2015 7:45pm
Way to brave the miserable forecast!

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