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Peak(s):  Mosquito Peak  -  13,787 feet
Kuss Peak  -  13,560 feet
Date Posted:  12/17/2014
Date Climbed:   12/13/2014
Author:  bergsteigen
Additional Members:   moneymike
 Green light skiing in the Mosquito   

Mosquito and Kuss Peak

Trailhead: CO 12
Mileage: 9.12
Elevation Gain: 2,974'
Avy Danger: Green

When avalanche dangers goes down to green in December, a strange thing happens amongst skiers. We all seem to jump and see what's in to ski, where we have to worry less than normal. Meadow skipping is great when there is powder, but without new snow for a long time, even that isn't much fun. So I spent much of the previous week coordinating between Joel, Mike and Dan about ski plans this past weekend. A ski line by Copper on Friday morning with Joel, a peak in the Mosquito Range with Mike, then some (hopefully) powder resort skiing with Dan on Sunday to finish it out. (And finish off my quads nicely - or not so nicely)

The line of Friday morning would have been great with more snow, being west facing it was pretty boney, and we spent much of the descent safety skiing to avoid obstacles. We both got in a couple good turns, but overall I was having an off day. I need to go back later in the season, should avy conditions allow to redeem myself. Thankfully we got done early, so I was able to head over to Copper to prove to myself that I can ski, after my previous poor performance. Was also nice to get a decent view of the lines from a father vantage point. Post-beta...

Since there was no point returning home, I camped out in Summit county at a nice quiet trailhead. I was also likely having a completely opposite evening to what tomorrow's ski partner was doing, if his reporting is correct. Reading my book (Anna Karenina) in the comfort of my warm CasaSubi, and passing out at the unlikely hour of 8-ish. Hopefully I could sleep off the previous day's bad bc ski juju. At least I will be well rested!

Next morning on CO 12 I met up with Mike, and geared up for a fairly long ski approach. Most of the road is snow covered, but not all of it. Only one section where we took off the skis temporarily. The biggest excitement came when crossing a semi frozen beaver dam. You could see the water gushing at the apex, where there was no ice, just branches. Thankfully that went smoothly!

Start of the day skinning up the snowy road

Our destination starts to come into view

Mike crossing the beaver dam, London Mine in background

Crossing the beaver dam - Photo Credit: Mike

Once by the London Mine, we made our way up the slope and avoided Mosquito Pass road as we bee-lined for Mosquito Peak's southeast ridge. Scoping out the terrain, we decide it would be safest to take the ridge up Kuss Peak and then over to Mosquito, just in case we didn't like what we saw. Here I took a long cut, while Mike took the short cut to Mosquito Pass road. Having been up there twice before, I remember the sides of the road being nasty steep and loose, so I wanted to avoid it. Turns out the route Mike took worked. Oh well, more exercise for me.

Skinning up beyond the London Mine- Photo Credit: Mike

Taking the road up, Kuss and Mosquito in background

Once at the east ridge to Kuss, we switched to booting it straight up the ridge line. Oh yay, talus and AT boots. Not my favorite. Plus my old ski boots (which I have to stop wearing) were not fitting great today. But not my injured left ankle/leg, but my right heel. Got a nasty popped blister by the end of the day on it. Guess I can't avoid putting my other boots on anymore...

We spent much of the ascent staring at our descent line. It's always tough to tell slope angle from a distance, especially when you are looking at it dead on. From my perspective I felt the line was fine if we stuck to the ridge, since the north edge of it was wind blown down to rocks. Islands of safety.

Booting up the east ridge of Kuss

Ridge to Evans B

London Mountain - west ridge

Buckskin's south side

Snowy final push up Kuss Peak

Mosquito's southern profile - our line down the right ridge line

We took a short break on the summit, and transitioned to ski down the short ridge. Almost continuous, except for one rocky stretch.

Holy Cross view



Flat ridge skate ski to start down Kuss

Ridge to Mosquito

Mike skiing down the white ribbon, big cornice to right

Me skiing some nice snow down Kuss - Photo Credit: Mike

Looking back up at Kuss

At the saddle, we slapped the skins back on, and were able to skin to the summit quite easily. Mike even checked out the steeper section of the ridge to confirm we had a good, safe ski descent ahead.

Skinning up the Ridge to Mosquito

Skinning up the final ridge to Mosquito's summit

Sustrugi slope

Pano north from Mosquito Peak

Summit timer selfie

Since the first section of ridge was so mellow, we simul-skied it and Mike did a follow cam. Of course he skis more aggressively than my Euro-shushy style that I'm having trouble breaking, and passed me midway down. At least the snow quality was quite nice for the first section.

Looking down the first part of the ski

Standing at the top of the first steep drop, we both wondered how good the snow would be. It looked a bit rough, but hopefully a soft rough - which it was. We were both able to find nice soft snow to ski on this section.

Looking southwest, I noticed that the storm was finally rolling over the Sawatch as forecasted. Yay new snow!!!

Storm is starting over the Sawatch, as we descend

Mike dropping the first steep section


Mike kicking up some snow

Mike becoming a speck

Me skiing the middle steep section - Photo credit: Mike

Always a smile on my face, with skis on my feet - Photo Credit: Mike

Once below the steepest part of the line, we had to decide to go right and skim the meadows or drop left and meet up with our skin track a different way. To the right was snowier so I liked that option. Plus we couldn't see down the drop to the north to get into the lower meadows on the left. So we went right.

Along the way, I scoped out a cornice huck onto what I was hoping would be nice soft snow. So I got my self all psyched up and dropped it, and landed on ice. Ice! I was quite thankful that I had gotten my old skis tuned before designating them rock skis, and was able to carve my way back to the softer snow on the ridge proper. Too bad the video was too shaky for my awesome huck

Looking down the remaining line

Looking back up the line

Mike about to finish off the ridge

Looking back up from the upper basin

Once off the line, we had a pleasant slide out to the road. Mike took the willows at much higher speeds than I was willing to risk. One too many willows has grabbed me over the years! Mike wisely suggested to take the road out, instead of cutting back by the mine (and the thinner snow). Even had some nice soft stuff to play with on the way down to the valley. The lower road was a mix of shuffling, stomping and skate skiing the flatter sections in between the sliding.

Sustrugi meadow skipping time

Another shot of our line

Mike skiing so fast, my camera can barely keep up - or I had the wrong setting...

Parting shot of our line

A great sunny day out in the mountains completed! Overall quite a wonderful ski completed in pretty decent conditions. Though with more snow on the way, we can certainly use it!

Mike compiled a pretty good video of our descent. Only regret is that the music covers up my pika squeak when I hit a shark. At least you can see my reaction as I make sure I don't face plant at Mike's feet.

The music chosen is similar to what I ended up listening to on my drive home. I think it helped, since I was quite late, and needed to be expedient. I had a holiday concert to play in, and by strategic driving I was able to get home in time to shower and get dressed. ie 30 minutes shaved off the commute, just enough time! It was going to be a special and difficult concert for me. The day after Thanksgiving we lost our concert mistress and principal clarinetist to cancer. We had a unique relationship, as we were one of the few hiker/skiers in the group. She didn't mind that I routinely show up late to concerts because of skiing/hiking. In fact, she was proud of it! She would tell everyone that one of her clarinets would hike a 14er before a concert. So this day, I had to hike and ski a peak, just for her. Best way I could think of to respect her memory and our relationship. The night of the concert was also the 5th anniversary of losing my grandfather. Very glad we got to play Tchaikovsky's Nutcracker, a family tradition to watch this time of year.

And yeah, Sunday's powder was delish. Too bad my quads started getting tired after run 3, but both Dan and I pushed through the pleasure and the pain for first - last chair on a surprisingly empty day at the resort.

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
Jon Frohlich
Been bugging me....
12/17/2014 8:54pm
When did ’Repeater’ become ’Kuss’? I always knew it as ’Repeater Peak’ and plenty of old TR’s list it that way. LoJ now has it as Kuss as well. Doesn’t really matter just never figured out the reason.

12/17/2014 9:28pm
I remember a great day hiking these peaks (and others) with you and Caroline in summer conditions, back when Kuss was Repeater. I finally went back and hiked London (Tillman’s first 13er)

Great to see those skies on your feet Otina!
12/18/2014 2:21am
Enjoy the holidays Mike and Otina!

Back at it!
12/18/2014 5:08pm
Glad to see you back out shredding! Nice report!

12/18/2014 11:00pm
Yup, great to see you back at it, Otina!

This report brought back a great memory of skiing that Mosquito Peak line about 10 years ago. It was an early-January day with similar snow coverage but I remember it fondly due to the crazy-sparkly snow that fell while I was skiing the ridge. The sun was shining through the snow to create an incredible view. I’ve skied all sorts of lines on most of the Mosquito range peaks but that day was one of the most memorable. Thanks for helping me remember!

Have fun out there and be safe!

I’m glad you were able to join me, Otina.
12/18/2014 11:58pm
And thanks for writing the trip report. That was definitely a fun line!

dillonsarnelli: Same to you, buddy.

Great to gave skis on my feet again!
12/19/2014 5:45pm
Vicki – I remember that long fun day up there on the ridge! Hoping next summer brings more of those memories!

Jon – Repeater became Kuss some time after I hiked it the first time. So sometime in 2013?

Dillon – Thanks! I’m planning a very ski–y holiday, so it will be awesome.

SolarAlex – Been hitting the resort a lot to get the legs back, so it’s great to get out in the BC for some vert and a nice summit ski too!

Bill – Lots of great safe lines in the Mosquito! Glad I have Fritz’s book to help sort out which ones to do first!

Mike – Glad we got to get out again! Thanks the reminder to keep my uphill legs in shape.

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