Peak(s):  Dyer Mtn  -  13,855 feet
Date Posted:  02/05/2015
Date Climbed:   02/01/2015
Author:  SnowAlien
Additional Members:   moneymike, bergsteigen
 Dyer Mountain Winter Ski   

Another windy day in the Mosquito range - what's new? As the day of this ski trip was approaching, I watched the forecast with increasing trepidation - sustained winds of 30 to 40 mph with gusts up to 45 mph. With 4 more people on board, I was hesitant to cancel the trip and just got ready for skin exfoliation treatment by the wind. At least it was expected to be a short tour, an important factor on Superbowl Sunday. Another major concern was a lack of snow. After about 3 weeks of snowless weather, I wasn't quite sure what to expect in terms of coverage on the south east aspect of Dyer. Well, there is only one way to find out!

Trailhead: Iowa Gulch winter closure (CR2)
Mileage: ~10 miles
Elevation: ~3,000 ft
Time: ~5 hours
Max speed: 19 mph
Ski crew: Mike, Jeff, Ed, Otina and Natalie

After staying overnight in Leadville, I met the rest of the crew in the morning and we ascended into the Iowa gulch. The winter closure is 3 miles from the summer TH, so it added 6 miles to the roundtrip. We started skinning at about 8.30 am. Until the treeline, everything went pretty well, and the winds were calm. However, that was about to change once out of the trees.

Breaking through the tree line (MoneyMike)

Into the wind

We did get one lucky break though. The winds were in our backs - the first time it ever happened, I believe. Otherwise, it would be too demoralizing. My butt got really cold though, even in windproof ski pants.

Otina skinning

Entering the Iowa gulch

We tried to move at a good clip, because as soon as we stopped, it got cold very quickly. About 2 hours after we started, we finally got a first good look at our objective - and it was snow covered!

Dyer comes into view


The next section of the route pretty much became the crux of the day. People talk about extreme snowshoeing - well, this was some extreme skinning! The next section was smooth as a baby's bottom and icy. With imperfectly timed gusts, one could have easily slid backwards on skins if not careful. So it was a slow going. With my full attention on getting over this section, I only took one photo, in the beginning.

Start of the extreme skinning section

Once we gained the ridge, the going was much better and faster. We even got some breaks from the gusts, as the ridge blocked it. We got to admire the snow devils - really cool to look at, but not so cool to be blasted by them.

Natalie and Jeff skinning

Final section of the ridge - Ed and Jeff take off and blast the skin track

MoneyMike skinning

Snowdevils approaching!


They are here!

My fingers hated my propensity for documentation, as they froze immediately once out of the mittens.

Sawatch views near the summit

MoneyMike doesn't let some wind stop him



Four of us transitioned to ski mode and waited on/near the summit for Otina, who wasn't feeling very well and was a little behind. After about 20 min we had to get out - the winds were unbearable. We all knew she could solo ski the face, and were planning to wait below, a bit out of the wind.

Jeff is ready to start the descent.

Mike skiing with Gemini in the background

First few turns

After a good start, we had to pick our way through a couple of rocky patches, which wasn't too bad, considering it hasn't snowed for a month.

More skiing

SE face and options

Mike lower in the basin

Mining ruins

Skiing out

Winds were relentless even lower in the basin, so we kept going. Unfortunately, the winds were now blowing against us, so we had to push with the poles to keep any momentum.

Mike and I stopped at the treeline to wait for Otina, and as soon as we saw her skiing the road out of the basin, we knew she was safe and we headed back to the car. I was pretty happy to get a Centennial #95 and on skis too, although we all could have enjoyed having less wind (realistically not an option in the Mosquito range). Dyer provides for a short tour, I even had some time to hit Copper afterwards for a few runs (legs were quite the jello though) and later meet with some friends to watch the Superbowl.

Mike's YouTube video


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

Comments or Questions

Stupid asthma
02/06/2015 01:16
Every time I think I got it beat, it sneaks up again!

While you may not have fallen in the extreme skinning section, I had to whippet arrest twice! After bashing my right knee, I figured booting was a better idea. Didn’t want to hurt my left knee. Cost precious time in those nasty winds!


I have to thank you Natalie...
02/26/2015 22:22
Seeing how well your skins glide convinced be to get new ones. My new skins make a world of difference! I can’t believe I was able to keep up with you with those horrible, worn out skins! I’m also glad to have finally retired those edgeless skis and heavy boots.

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