Peak(s):  Red Mtn C  -  13,229 feet
Bald Mtn A  -  13,684 feet
Buffalo Mountain - 12777
Date Posted:  04/04/2015
Date Climbed:   04/03/2015
Author:  SolarAlex
 A Great Spring Week!   

Spring time has arrived this year a little bit early, which is a good or bad thing depending on who you ask. I enjoy riding cold, blower powder as much as anyone, but being able to get up high and ride off the summits of high peaks is great too! This past week has been one of the best weeks of riding in my life...I've had some really great days out in the hills with some really good friends and some new friends too. Instead of writing 3 separate reports and clogging up the TR section, I figured I'd compile them into one report. Enjoy!

Date: 4/3/15
Peak: Red Mountain C 13229'
Route: North Ridge up, East Face down
Trailhead: Pennsylvania Creek
Partners: Matt Mitrick and Chase Lindell

Red Mountain C is part of my little project to ride all the peaks I can see from my house...Red is one of the more visible ones. (The list is Bald Mtn A, Red Mtn C, Guyot, Peak 1, Buffalo, Red Mtn gore range and one other one) I have hiked it this past fall from Hoosier Pass, and it was an enjoyable outing. My friend Matt came out to Colorado to celebrate his 30th birthday and Chase and I wanted to get him up on a peak. Red Mountain C is just outside of town and has a really nice mellow ascent route. With the new snow in the forecast I was hoping that we would catch some powder turns, and we weren't disappointed.

We left my house around 730, stopped for a breakfast bagel at Clints, and then drove over to the trailhead. On the way I checked the snow report at Breckenridge, and saw that they had reported 9 inches! The stoke factor was rising rapidly. We parked, and began skinning up through the forest on the road. There was a nice layer of light, fluffy powder on the ground which made for a really beautiful, cold winter like morning. Definitely a nice change from all the warm weather lately.

Winter Sky

We made a slight error, leaving the road at the first clearing and ascending too far to the west. It was easy enough to correct, and soon we were on the correct route, skinning up through the forest. Im really looking forward to coming back here next winter and riding the trees under the north ridge. Beautiful spacing and very lappable. I was hoping to talk Matt and Chase into getting a couple bonus laps in the trees after riding the East face.

Through the trees

Getting my skin track zen on


The views were great, but we could see the wind ripping snow off of the 10 mile peaks, and knew it would get windy for us on the ridge. We made good time up to treeline and pretty soon found ourselves being blasted with wind. The wind was carrying plenty of snow with it, so it was like being sandblasted at times. The wind was cold too. Stupidly I kept my light gloves on until my hands went totally numb. Nothing like having the screaming barfies in your fingertips to make skinning enjoyable. Still, we pressed on and skinned around the North bowl and soon gained the ridge. The snow was thinner on the ridge, but we were able to link up snow patches and continue skinning all the way to the summit. The final couple hundred feet were pretty sweet, as the ridge narrows somewhat and the views all around are spectacular.


North Bowl and 10Mile

Gaining the summit ridge

Final Approach

Luckily the wind abated on the summit, so we were able to enjoy the beautiful day. The sun was out and it was clear that we would be enjoying a bluebird powder day!

Chase and I on top

Matt stoked for his first summit descent

After eating and putting the boards back together, Chase and I dug a snow pit to see if the conditions would allow for a safe descent. We isolated a column and got zero results from our compression tests. We felt good about our decision to ride the line. We made the decision that I would drop it first and set up at the safest spot I could find so I could get some photos. I was definitely extremely stoked to get first tracks!

The first few turns off of the summit were glorious. About 8 inches of super light, blower powder caused some uncontrollable whooping. I rode down to a little rib feature and set up for some shots of Matt and Chase. Matt came first and ripped down getting face shots on almost every turn...what a birthday present! Matt was the person who really taught me how to snowboard 5 years ago...without his help, I doubt I'd have ever really gotten into snowboarding. It felt great to return the favor by taking him out for some sweet powder turns. He rode it down to the bottom and stopped. I'm pretty sure he's hooked now. Chase came down next and ripped it as well.

glorious pow turns

Matt getting some


Chase shredding

Chase entering the white room

Me entering the white room

Fully in the white room

After Chase was down to the bottom, it was my turn to finish it off. I dropped left off the rib into a rollover, rapidly picking up speed and really laid into my first turn on my toeside...unfortunately for me, I found the crust underneath and caught my downhill edge and soon was bouncing off the top of my head. Luckily, on my second rotation I landed on my board and was able to stand up and ride it out. I wrenched my shoulder pretty hard, but otherwise unscathed. Lucky me! The rest of the way down was bottomless powder turns and face shots and soon I was standing at the bottom with Matt and Chase, looking back on the amazing line we just rode.

A job well done

We rode down through the valley to the creek, where Matt and I switched over to split skiing. We worked our way down the creek slowly, thanks to excessive glopping on our skis. We were basically skinning without skins, dragging our cement shoes back towards the trailhead. It was shockingly hot and progress was slow. We all took turns falling down in the gloppy snow (me and Matt more so than Chase, the skier) and had a bunch of laughs. It was a relief to make it back to the truck. What a day with some of my closest friends!

Date: 3/30/15
Peak: Buffalo Mountain 12777'
Route: Silver Couloir
Trailhead: Buffalo Cabin
Partners: Frank Bowman, Matt Coye and Xena the dog

What can I say about this route? One of the classics, this colouir is visible every time you drive through the Eisenhower tunnel. Its striking to look at: Deeply inset, steep and LONG. I've been staring at this route for years, and had always thought how amazing it would be to snowboard down it. I had a BBQ at my house the night before, and a plan was hatched to go ride the silver the following day. I had ridden Buffalo before, but only by the lookers right side of the Caldera, which is pretty mellow. This would be a step up for sure.

I drove over to Matt and Franks house and we loaded up the truck with the gear and Xena, who is possibly the worlds most athletic dog, and headed out. We stopped at the Pour House in the cove for some coffee and croissants (highly recommended!!!) and headed up Wildernest to the Buffalo Cabin trailhead. We geared up and began skinning up the trail. We followed the trail for a while, but the skin track was extremely icy, so soon we forged our own path through the trees. We veered skiers left towards the avalanche path and took a more direct route up. Xena was charging around and barking at us to keep up...she probably had about 10k of elevation gain on the way up. Frank set a brutally steep skin track through the avy path and soon enough we popped out at treeline, facing the steep route to the ridge.

Matt skinning up

Frank and Xena

The snow was extremely sticky, so we were able to ascend straight up the was 30ish degrees, and felt kind of surreal. Definitely the highest angle skinning I've ever done. It was windy, but not too cold. I love the view up there...You can see all of summit county! We topped out onto the ridge at about 1030 and decided not to bother with the summit...there was another group behind us and we wanted to drop first, especially after the slide a few days prior.

We transitioned quickly and rode over to the skiers right entrance of the couloir. Im not going to lie, my heart was pounding as we neared the rollover...I don't have much experience with couloirs and there is something very committing about standing on top of a line that you can't see down...The only way to find out is to go! Frank skis Buffalo regularly and assured me it would be fine. He dropped in first and disappeared over the roll, Xena right on his heels. He asked us to give him a couple minutes to get his camera out. The snow looked soft which helped my nerves somewhat but I was pretty gripped. Still, I thought, if a dog can do it, surely a snowboarder can right??

Soon it was my turn to drop...Making the first turn over the roll was a little scary at first, but the fear melted into some of the purest stoke I've ever felt as the route came into was steep but totally doable and the snow was mostly soft. I made a few more arcing turns before riding over to the safe spot Frank had skied to and took my phone out to get shots of Matt dropping in. It was such an incredible setting...definitely the coolest thing I've ever done with a snowboard on my feet.

Matt making turns off the top



Frank taking it in

Frank shredding

Frank and Xena


Frank and Matt

The rest of the way down we took turns leap frogging from safe spot to safe spot, taking photos along the way. The line just goes on forever. Unfortunately, Xena ran too close to Frank and got clipped by a ski edge and got a nasty cut on her leg. If it hurt her, she didn't really show it until we got to the bottom and Frank wrapped it up with some gauze and tape. She ended up getting a couple stitches at the vet afterwards. Im sure she was glad that she was able to come with us though. I fed her some of my sandwich to boost her morale.

Me and Xena

Looking down

Looking up

Frank through the narrow section



Xena charging down after Frank


Matt finishing it off

I'm no expert, but I would agree with others who call it a 40 degree average pitch down the line...there are two steeper sections that are maybe a couple degrees steeper but for the most part its consistent. We were lucky to have soft conditions...I could see it being pretty scary and possibly dangerous in icy conditions. Once we reached the bottom, we transitioned back to skins and made our way around the bottom of Buffalo and back up to the trailhead. It was extremely hot and we were all ready for a beer or two! All in all it was about 4 and a half hours round trip.

I can't wait to go back for this one again soon. Definitely very deserving of its "50 classic ski descents of North America" designation!

Date: 3/28/15
Peak: Bald Mountain A 13684'
Route: SW Gully
Trailhead: Boreas Pass Winter Closure
Partners: Otina Fox, Bill Middlebrook , Zach, Craig, David Ashe

Bald Mountain A is a fixture in the Summit county skyline. One of my first backcountry ski experiences was on Baldy, on the main slope near the road. Its a great place to learn the basics of touring and very safe. There are other ski areas on the mountain as well that are great fun. I've even driven my truck up the road in the summer to 12000'. This time, the objective would be a little different. I met Bill at the Winter Welcomer and we had been exchanging messages trying to link up for a ski tour...Previously, work had prevented me from joining, but this time my schedule was wide open. Bill suggested the SW gully route and a plan was formed to go for it on the 28th.

We met at the trailhead about 630, and started skinning up the long road (4 miles or so) to our turnoff. It was a beautiful morning and the road was nice and frozen which allowed for easy skinning. Bill decided to just walk with his skis on his pack and flew up the road ahead of everyone else. The alpenglow over the 10 mile range was amazing. It was a pretty strong group...Bill and Otina have skied something like 40 14ers, which is just mind-blowing. David and I were definitely the least experienced members of this group and were both stoked to be able to come along.

Alpenglow on 10mile

This would be my first day out on my brand new custom split from Prior...I was excited to see how it would ride...In case you hadn't noticed, I closely resemble an ogre and have the foot size to match. In order to accommodate my size 30 A/T boots, I needed a wider board than was available...Luckily for me, there are a few custom board makers out there!

We worked our way up to the turn off, and took a left into the trees towards our gully. As the sun rose, the temperature did as well, and it was a welcome relief to drop into the gully and back into the shade once we reached treeline. We skinned for a while, and then picked a spot to stop and transition over to crampons for the climb up the gully. Otina and Zach had elected to stay out the gully initially and were switching over on the adjacent ridge.

View of the Gully from the bottom

David working his way up the gully

The angle starts out pretty mellow in the gully, and the snow was firm save for the occasional posthole. Bill took the lead and put in the boot pack for a while, then I took a turn, and then David. We were making consistent upward progress and soon we came to the point where the gully steepens. We elected to space out a little bit for safety. David and I took the lead and enjoyed a great climb up the gully. Snow climbing is so much more fun now that I have A/T boots! David had never used crampons before but he killed it all day long and had a great time.

Bill putting steps in at the bottom

David, Craig and Bill

What a view

We got to the steeper part of the climb and I had a blast kicking steps up this section. It was a little thin and rocky at times, so you had to pay attention to what you were doing, but the climbing was enjoyable for the most part. The climb finishes directly onto the summit of Bald, which was pretty cool!

Me getting to the steep part

About to top out

David topping out

Bill + Otina taking the final steps

We topped out and set our packs down and took some photos and watched everyone else coming up. Otina and Bill summited next, then Zach and Craig joined us for a regular party on the summit. I love the views from the peaks along the divide, as there are mountains on all sides. Plus I could see my house from up there! (theoretically). The 10 mile range is loaded with snow right now, and it was fun making mental notes of all the lines I'm hoping to ride this spring.

Summit Pano

Looking towards my house over there somewhere

We sat on top for over an hour waiting for the sun to soften the snow, as the wind was pretty strong and keeping things firm. When it was time to ski, we all dropped off the summit to the entrance of the gully.

Bill and Craig off the top


We went one at a time through the steeper section...the coverage was not that great and required some conservative skiing/riding. I was feeling a little unsure on the new board and definitely didn't earn any style points getting through this section. Still, I felt like it was better to be safe than sorry.

David on the steeps

Once everyone was safely below the steeper portion of the gully, we took turns skiing the lower gully and taking photos. It was a blast...the coverage was great and the snow was soft. Everyone had great fun ripping down the gully walls. Full on party ski!

We made our way back to the road and began the long ski out...that road is so flat it seems like its uphill both ways. It just seems to go on and on forever too. It was brutally hot and the sun was intense. At one point, both David and I thought we saw the parking lot around a corner, only to realize it was just a rock formation. Doh! We knew we were getting close when we started to have to dodge dog crap and saw a few hikers. Finally, the parking lot appeared. Sometimes taking my boots off at the end of the day is better than getting to the summit and it was close today. We said our goodbyes and headed home.

Great day with a great group of people!

Im definitely hoping for at least a few more weeks of spring riding...Do your snow dances people!

Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):
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 Comments or Questions

Great pics
04/05/2015 15:45
Nice photos from all of these climbs! It was fun getting out with you guys on Bald – let’s do it again soon. Hope to go after Atlantic, Horseshoe or something else soon.


Looking good
04/05/2015 21:43
Great photos!


04/06/2015 00:50
Buffalo has been on my list for a while. And your pics of Red look glorious. Great day on Bald with you last weekend as well!


Nice photos!
04/06/2015 17:45
Really nice pics, Alex. You are having a fun couple weeks, eh?


04/07/2015 00:25
@ Bill – Thanks man and let me know if you want to get out this week...we are going back to baldy for the NE gully tomorrow if you are interested sorry for the short notice. Horseshoe and Atlantic both sound good!
@Mongoose – Thanks!
@Zach – Great meeting you out there on Baldy and let me know if you are ever looking for a partner to get after some peaks
@Jay – Its been a great few weeks, I’ve been super lucky with timing and work schedule allowing for some amazing days out!


04/07/2015 14:42
I’ve done some splitting this season with two hardbooters, they are very fast on the skinning portions.
I also want to do Buffalo sometime this spring


Fun Day!
04/07/2015 16:57
Thanks for writing up our day on Bald, it was good to finally meet you. Hope to get out on future Summit county missions soon. The Silver is looking good! Maybe I’ll get to it this year, now that my 14er goals are halved due to bad snow down south.


Nice shots!
04/07/2015 19:45
Thanks for sharing


Quality Lineup
04/08/2015 20:27
With some good lookin’ snow. Nice job all!


A Few Years
04/26/2019 08:02
... after the trip but I had to post to say "great pics"! The write up was nice as well.

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