Peak(s):  Dyer Mtn  -  13,855 feet
Date Posted:  03/24/2015
Date Climbed:   03/21/2015
Author:  eskermo
Additional Members:   mountainute, spiderman, BKS, Scott P
 Early Spring on Dyer's Southeast Slopes   

What: Dyer Mountain - 13,855'
When: March 21, 2015
How: Standard Southeast Slopes Route
Where: Iowa Gulch Trailhead - winter closure
Work: 10 miles, 3,000' roundtrip
Who: Scott (Scott P), Kessler, Brian (BKS), Doug (spiderman), Arthur, Ute (MountainUte), Nick (eskermo)

Seven of us met at the Iowa Gulch Trailhead's normal winter closure early Saturday morning. Scott had been trying to organize a trip up Dyer and rounded up a few troops on the Forums. Unannounced and at the last second I decided I would join. Shady move, I know. We set off just before 7:30 AM after gearing up and enjoying a beautiful sunrise over Elbert and Massive to our west.

There was a great mix of means for climbing the mountain. A couple booters, a couple snowshoers, a couple skiers, and a splitboarder. Mountains are all about equal opportunity anyway, right? The three mile approach on the 4WD road leading to the Summer trailhead was in excellent shape. Completely packed down, supportive, and great for hiking, shoe-ing, or skinning. Unless you are like me and your skins have zero glide. Note to self - get new skins! Coverage was 99%, save a short dry patch that could be skinned/hiked around easily on snow.

We left the road somewhere around 12,300' and started to angle north and then west in order to gain the large, rounded shoulder that ascends northwesterly to the South ridge of Dyer (*NOTE* this is ~300' vertical below where the standard route in Middlebrook's description leaves the road). The snow was still pretty firm but softened up just enough to allow for small kick steps. Brian was able to skin up most of this steeper slope. The rest of us booted up this part. Snow could be followed to make it continuous, but most went with the path of least resistance, which included some dry, rocky sections as well as snow covered sections.

Once up the steeper slopes and onto the broad shoulder, the route mellows some and you can see the remaining path to the summit. The snow remained mostly continuous all the way up. On the last section leading to the summit ridge, Brian and I were having some trouble with the glop monster attacking our skins, but probably just because it was so late in the day at this point. I went back to boots but Brian managed to skin most of the way to the summit. The summit ridge was the trickiest terrain of the day, but that wasn't saying much. Just a little bit of class 2 mixed in with some snow.

Scott, Kessler, and Brian made the summit first, with Arthur not far behind. I was about 15 minutes back and topped out around 1:20 on a gorgeous summit. Ute was having a little trouble and Doug graciously stayed back with her. Worried about the snow being too soft, Brian and I wanted to hurry and drop in as soon as possible. I found a few paths on CalTopo the day before that would keep us under 30 degrees for almost the entire descent. We discussed our route options. Although it was way later than we would have preferred, we knew the mountain had a good freeze the night before after a decent freeze-thaw cycle. The snow stayed supportive and boots didn't sink far into the snow, even that late in the day. That said, we felt good about our planned route and decided to ski one at a time until we got close to the road below.

We clicked in a few feet from the summit cairn (it could be billy-goated if you feel so inclined) and found a pretty good line down. The first couple hundred vertical feet were hardpack but after that it was a nice surface that varied from corn-like to a couple inches of soft-ish powder on top of a slightly softened slab. I don't really know how to describe it in words. All I know is Brian and I were hooting and hollering and having a blast!

Doug turned around at the summit ridge around the time we dropped in (it's OK yall, he already has a Dyer summit!). Ute dropped her skis at the point of intersection with the summit ridge, tagged the summit, and descended back down to her skis. We met the hikers having fun glissading toward the road and then proceeded to take a break on the road below. When we saw Ute skiing down we clicked back in and started the long, slow ski/ride/shoe/boot back to the trailhead.

The road could be continuously skied with some help from pole pushing, save two very brief uphills. I did the entire route on skins or in boots with no traction. Microspikes would have been helpful on the upper portion of the route, but definitely not necessary on Saturday.

While Dyer Mountain looks like it will hold lots of good snow up high for a while, I am willing to bet the safer, low-angled stuff will probably be melted out soon. Go get it while it's good!

It was a beautiful day in the mountains with no clouds, zero wind, incredible views, and great people. Kessler and Arthur - you dudes are sick. So. Fast. So. Jealous. Ute - I am very impressed and inspired by your determination and will power. Way to get that summit! Brian - I hope that after I get some new skins and practice a LOT that one day I'll be able to move as quickly as you. Let's go get another ski descent soon. Doug and Scott - you two have got to be some of the most awesome, proud dads; your kids are sick climbers and have such great attitudes! Scott - definitely going to hit you up for some slot canyons, I really want to do Buckwater soon! Nick - I told you no more peak lists after the 14ers! Now you have to go get all obsessed with the Centennials. Will it ever end?!?!

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Sunrise over Elbert and Massive from the Iowa Gulch Trailhead

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The crew. Plus two about to split off for Sherman.

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We left the road to start gaining some more significant elevation here. Angled up and left to the broad shoulder leading NW

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Looking back from on the broad, rounded shoulder

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The push up to the ridge

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The Sawatch starting to poke out as we got higher.

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Topping out on the broad shoulder and rounding onto the final ridge to the summit

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A look back down our route

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Almost there...

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Scott and Kessler's summit shot

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Arthur admiring the summit views

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Me on top of my first Centennial 13er

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Brian on the summit, ready to drop in

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Looking southwest at the Sawatch and down the basin we ascended

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Sacramento Basin and South Park beyond

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The obligatory drop-in shot

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Brian getting a few turns after negotiating a couple thin patches

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Brian enjoying some incredibly fun turns on nice snow

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The hikers having some fun glissading

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One of those perfect days



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