Peak(s):  Fletcher Mountain  -  13,951 feet
Bald Mountain A  -  13,684 feet
Sayres Benchmark  -  13,738 feet
Geneva Peak  -  13,266 feet
Mt. Evans B  -  13,577 feet
London Mountain  -  13,194 feet
Mt. Cameron  -  14,248 feet
Date Posted:  05/14/2015
Modified:  05/19/2015
Date Climbed:   05/09/2015
Author:  bergsteigen
 13er Ski School and 101 Summit Ski Descents   

It has been over a month since my last ski TR, so I guess it's time to explain what I've been doing with my time. I've been in a sort of semi retirement phase. The 14ers I have left are not exactly ones that I can just go out and do whenever. Some are hugely conditions dependent, and with all the snow in April and now May, I had to back off the big peaks. With so many 13ers in the state, there's many more options for lines both mellow and fun to explore, as I wait for the big ones to allow me in their presence again.

It has also become apparent that while I may have recovered from my broken leg almost completely, there are still some issues mentally and physically. I haven't lost my endurance or strength, but uphill speed has been an issue, I seem to have lost most of it. But just skinning speed. Glue on the wrong side of the skins? Booting up a couloir seems ok speed wise so far. So while I regain my speed and recover my ski mojo, it was time to switch it up and ski with the fun partners. The ones who don't care about those sorts of things, they just want to go out and enjoy a great day of skiing. No ego. No need to be around arrogant bastards and fitness fanatics.

Plus, if you've ever seen Bill ski, it feels like I need to go back to ski school to learn more! Or maybe I just need more time skiing in the BC to look like I do in a resort...

So here are the highlights from 7 peak skis I've done in the past 2 months. Sure there are a ton of photos, but I had to sort through 2,000 or more... an avalanche!

Fletcher Mountain

Date: March 21
Mileage: 9.3
Elevation Gain: 3,026'
Route: SE Face
Partners: Zach, Bill, Craig

It's newly spring and since the snow has stopped falling, it's time to start skiing peaks! After my Red Mtn C foray it was time to ski the fun stuff. I enjoy resort skiing, and lapping BC laps in powder, but peak skiing is my favorite. So with Huron planned for Monday, I had the weekend to ski other things. So when I got the PM from Bill to ski something in the 10Mile, I was game. I do have long term plans to ski every peak worth skiing close to home, so with the 14er list shrinking, the 13er list is growing.

A post sunrise start was planned which thrilled both Zach and I. So many stupid early starts make for painfully long days. We were able to skin from the start of the winter closure, though the road was melting fast in places. The plan was skin the long way around to keep the slopes mellow, just in case there was some suspect snow along the summer route. Certainly made the route longer, but the views of Wheeler Peak were certainly worth it! The sun was baking us once it rose high enough to get us in the valley. Thankfully a breeze picked up enough to make things a bit more comfortable.

We were able to skin almost all the way up to the summit, with only the last stretch needing a booter. Relaxed on the summit and counted the ants on the nearby 14er. So many of them!

When it was time to ski, we made our way down the ridge to the east, instead of venturing out onto the face. So we had a bit of a rocky transition to deal with before continuous snow all the way down to the reservoir. It was a pretty nice ski with creamy conditions to be had!

Skinning up the basin

Final ridge push

Zach skiing down

Me skiing Photo Credit: Bill

Zach on the middle drop Photo Credit: Bill

Me on a lower section Photo Credit: Bill

Looking back at the multiple drops

Skiing down to the Reservoir Photo Credit: Bill

More photos here

Bald Mountain A

Date: March 21
Mileage: 10.88
Elevation Gain: 3,354'
Route: West Gully
Partners: Zach, Bill, Craig, Alex, Dave
TR by Alex

Since Alex already posted about this trip, I figured I would share a few more photos that Bill and I took. Mainly cause Bill got a really good one of me, and I don't get many of those!

Me looking like I can ski Photo Credit: Bill

Photo Credit: Bill

Bill skiing

Alex boarding down

More Photos Here

Sayres Benchmark

Date: April 11
Mileage: 10.39
Elevation Gain: 3,816'
Route: Grand Central Couloir
Partners: Zach, Bill, Craig, Alex

Sayres BM has been on my ski list as soon as I saw it on a trip up La Plata. No need to hike this one by itself. Skis only! Just too bad that when we went, X-Rated couloir was out. Very rough and rather thin. Who knows what it looks like now with all the new snow.

All but Alex drove up the night before to camp at the bustling La Plata TH. I was asked twice if I was a part of the meetup group. Thankfully, they were all headed up La Plata, and we had Sayres all to ourselves. Patchy snow from the start, but we decided to boot up until the flat meadow above. A few post holes and slippery trail to navigate, but once on skis, it was easy going. Biggest excitement of the day was my camelback springing a leak and making icicles down my legs. Had to turn it upside down to stop the leak. There went the easy water consumption, so Bill and Craig could stop making fun of me for not drinking enough water!

At the start of the booster, Craig decides that his knee hurts too much to continue, and skis back to base. The rest of us gear up for the climb ahead. We thought the climb would go simply and fast. Nope. Both Alex and Bill post holed to epic proportions, while I wallowed in their tracks. Even I sunk far into the snow in the couple places I was leading. The climb up to the never ending saddle eventually ended, and then it was a simple scamper up to the summit. Thankfully there was even continuous snow all the way for our ski down.

With the increasing cloud cover, we didn't need to wait much for the snow to warm up - as it never did. I think we finally got corn where the snow went flat. So the ski itself was done in variable powder - sustrugi - crusty conditions. Made it a bit more challenging and we all put on the brakes to speed to keep it safe. I would love to return to ski it again in better conditions - but that approach/deproach... Still a whole bunch of good turns were had by all. Once we got back to our meadow where we put on our skis, we knew the sliding would soon be over. But we keep on for a little while. Then the wallowing began with earnest, along with the slipping on the polished parts of the trail. The never ending exit finally ended and we could all escape our various directions.

Photo Credit: Bill

Climbing the Grand Central

Zach dropping in

Alex throwing a lot of snow Photo Credit: Bill

Me skiing some powder Photo Credit: Bill

Bill skiing

JUMP! Photo Credit: Bill

Bill with La Plata behind

Zach and La Plata

Where's Alex? Photo Credit: Bill

Way cool lighting

Geneva Peak

Date: April 25
Mileage: 7
Elevation Gain: 2,702'
Route: West Face
Partners: Bill, Craig, Alex, Natalie

Another snowy weekend, another 13er to be skied. Substitute Natalie for a weekend working Zach, and we yet again have a group of 4-6 to ski. New "trailhead" for me. Though it was nice not having to park at Peru Creek and walking all the way through town, like the last time I was up on this peak.

We geared up to walk the dry-isn road until the last winter resident who plowed access. From there the snow was continuous. A fairly simple approach with only minimal navigating through a section of trees. Once at the base of the ridge it was the skis on-off dance all the way to the summit. Natalie managed to keep her skis on the entire time, where I did the dance twice, and then booted much of the ridge. Lots of steep sustrugi made easy skinning difficult. It was amusing to watch the slips and falls we all had trying to get up that ridge.

Once on the summit, we could see the storm approaching, but it was still holding off for a bit. Bill went to investigate the way down. The west face is steeper than the SSW gully we skinned next to on the way up, so all we had to do was find the way into it. A narrow corniced ridge was the way, and the entrance was shark infested water. I think all of us hit at least one rock on the descent.

Where the powder was deep enough, the skiing was great. It was just getting around the rocks you could see that was the problem. Midway we had a giant corniced feature to ski around. Bill and Craig went onto it, while Alex and Natalie followed me down the creamy goodness down the gut. The gully we chose got very narrow and heavily treed near the bottom, so most of us exited skiers left into the slope for better skiing.

Skinning up Geneva

Geneva summit ridge

Craig dropping in

Natalie swimming with sharks Photo Credit: Bill

Alex boarding

Bill scouting the line

Me finding some soft snow Photo Credit: Bill

Me enjoying the good snow Photo Credit: Bill

Craig throwing some snow

Alex in a powder cloud

Natalie dropping the line

Me in the gully Photo Credit: Bill

Natalie coming down

Bill skiing the horizon

Crain down in the gully Photo Credit: Bill

Looking back up gully, with Natalie coming down

More photos here

Mt Evans B

Date: May 2
Mileage: 6.47
Elevation Gain: 2,375'
Route: East Face Chutes
Partners: Bill, Craig, Alex, Dave

Hoping to beat the latest weekend storm, the group found ourselves on yet another gem in the Mosquito Range. A fairly straight forward ski, once you get around the private property issues in the area. We were able to ski to within a very short distance of the parking lot.

Another sunrise start. (Getting spoiled rotten by these) The day started off with blue skies and just enough wind to keep us cool on the ascent. The latest storm had really flocked the nearby hills with enough white, to make it look like mid winter up there. Snow was perfect consistency to be able to easily skin right on up to the summit. The horrifically windy summit. We had to immediately build a wind shelter to be able to take a break. There we met a group of snowshoers on their way to Dyer (taking the looooong way?)

After carefully transitioning in the wind shelter, the group went down a ways and dug a pit. There are perfectly avy safe ways down the mountain, but there is also a steeper more fun way as well. So a pit was dug and we found the snow conditions favorable enough to constitute continuing with the more aggressive line. Snow even improved as we approached our steeper drop. Getting to the desired line is a bit tricky as it rolls over steeply, and you can't see it until you are on it. 2 nice drops later, and we were contouring back to the start. This line is so nice, I'll be back for it again.

Evans in a fresh coat of white

Looking back on the ski for Sunday on London

Wintery Mosquitoes!

Summit Pit

Dave skiing with Sherman group behind

Alex off the summit zone

Bill above the big drop

Dave dropping with Bill at the camera

Craig in the chute Photo Credit: Bill

Me about to enter the chute Photo Credit: Bill

Alex below the line

Bill about to huck... or just ski down the slope

Bill skiing out the drainage

A look back

Another reason I enjoy these ski weekends, is that it gives me the relaxing time to catch up on my reading. This season I've been struggling through Tolstoy's Anna Karenina. A classic, a very long classic. Too bad much of it was lost on me. Topics of conversation in Russian Aristocracy from the late 19th century just didn't captivate me. But this evening, I finally got through all 800+ pages so I can watch the very oddly creative movie. Now onto something completely different...

London Mountain

Date: May 3
Mileage: 4.66
Elevation Gain: 2,182'
Route: The Wave (ascent) Blue Crystal Gully (descent)
Partners: Zach, Rob

Since Zach had to work on Saturday and wanted to get out on Sunday, we agreed on Whale Peak via Whales Tail. Figured with conditions as they were on Saturday on Evans, it should be another good ski. Only difficulty was the road beta. How far could we get? So since I was up there and done early in the day, I drove up the road. I was able to get past the campground and to the first stream crossing before I had to call it. Low slung Subi was not going to get over those rocks on the other side. Mr Taco, no problem. So back on Kenosha Pass I text with Zach, and tell him it'll be 8 miles and a walk, putting our start time well before sunrise. The pre-sunrise was not appealing, so we had to find a plan B. The Wave on London was on Zach's list, so I went to look at that, and we now had our next plan. Right back where I started that morning!

Oh the people you will meet....

As I was getting ready for the day at the winter closure of the Mosquito Pass road, I wondered where Zach and Rob were, and how beautiful and peaceful the sunrise was this morning. Very soon after their arrival, a white F150 comes tearing up the road, driven by a red faced, tweaked out, drunk, obese and jovial individual offering oreo cookies out his window with a glass of whiskey in the other hand. Even Shrooms, whiskey and weed were offered as well. I knew sh!t was getting real when Rob looks over at me after taking the offered Oreos and mouths the words WTF?!?!?! I was ever so glad to have the car running, and pointed in the right direction at this point. The truck turns around, and proceeds to get momentarily stuck - fears of having to help them get unstuck float through my panicked brain - but thankfully he revs the engine some more and gets out of the icy snow. A few moments later, the first gunshots of the day ring out. It it Mosquito Pass or some sort of Deliverance going on here? We would heat at least 5 more gunshots throughout the day.

After that exciting start to the morning, we start up the road and then angle over to the start of the Wave on London. Spoiled by yesterday's wind, I thought we'd be fine with a similar start time today, considering the route was much closer and shorter. But as soon as we stopped skinning, and switched to booting, the snow went soft. We all traded off the lead, and all postholed to varying degrees. I wasn't liking the snow consistency at all, so I put it into over drive and put the booter up and over the cornice asap. From there I knew we would be safe. Below... yucky! There we saw the cutest white weasel looking at us from his spy hole. Wish I had a better zoom on my camera, as even what I did get of him was fuzzy.

The previous day we had spotted a line off the south ridge of London that looked good, but I couldn't exactly find the entrance to is as I angled away from the summit on the way up. From the photos I took the day before, we decided on the line that went west directly off the summit. It looked fat and pretty nice on the tiny screen on my camera. So we started down from the summit, waiting as long as we could for the snow to corn before the approaching storm. Nothing like racing the snow to get to the summit, then having to wait for snow to ripen on another aspect!

At the start, the slope angle was pretty mellow. But then with the flat lighting, a giant cornice feature presented itself. That's where it got steep (45+). The first turn was the worst to initiate, but then afterwards, the rhythm was achieved and I jumped down the slope a bit. We then proceeded to leap frog each other down to the mining buildings below. Yet another peak I will ski again. Lots of lines, virtually no approach!

Sunrise on Evans B

Marshy reflection of the Wave

Rob and Zach booting

Rob topping out on the Wave

Zach on top of the Wave

Zach dropping the initial slope

Rob skiing the top section

Rob throwing some snow after a big jump turn

Zack in the Blue Crystal Gully

Zach in the lower gully

Mt Cameron

Date: May 9
Mileage: 6.66
Elevation Gain: 3,004'
Route: East Face
Partners: Bill, Craig, Alex (Zach & Rob on Pennsylvania)

More storms, more mellow slopes to ski. My 101 peak ski descent today (with ~6 unranked peaks in the list). I've "skied on" other peaks, but these ones I count as being as close to the summit, if not on it. Maybe my 100th ranked peak will be a fun one! Either way, these summit descents are starting to build up. I still remember when I successfully skied my first one in 2009!

So Friday night I start my usual trek up into the mountains, CasaSubi packed and ready for another weekend of fun. Rainy drive up Rt 6, almost all the way to I-70. Come around a curve, past the mine and SH!T a rock. Well geologically speaking, it was a boulder. There was no way to stop in time, and I thought swerving would likely rip off a tire. So I hit it dead on. BOOM! Somehow the car clears the boulder and I land on the other side. No steering, still running. Crank on the wheel, the wheels actually start turning, finally. I pull into the Kermits lot, and look underneath. Dark dripping substance creating a pool underneath. Hmmm dripping, not pouring. Time to get BrokenSubi home asap! A short time later, I'm back in front of my house and transferring all my gear into the truck in a rain storm. Yay, everything is getting wet now. This time I take 285 and find a sleeping place along Boreas Pass road. Short night here we come!

Shortly after 4am - bright flashing lights! Crap! Sheriffs? Nope, it's a lightning storm dropping pea sized hail on me. I try to sleep a little bit more before my alarm, wondering if we will even get a chance to ski today. I wake up to Zach calling me around 5am. He's stuck on a closed Highway 24 coming out of the Springs, flooded road, don't wait up. With the tight weather window we thought we had for the day, we didn't think the 45 minutes he was out would work. So when I met Bill's truck, we headed on up to the TH. It was no longer storming, but it was cloudy and foggy.

Yet we decided to ski anyway, see what happened. The first part was pretty dismal, but we kept on skinning up the slope. Right before the saddle with Bross, the clouds came in so low, we figured we would be skiing blind on the way out. But once I reached the ridge, the sun came out, and slowly the clouds just went away! We found a nice natural wind break to hide from the breeze, and enjoyed a pleasant summit break. I wanted to take a nap, but the boys wanted to ski. My eyes were closed on the trip up from the saddle I was so tired.

After testing the snow on the initial descent, it was determined it was good to go. Bill, then Craig, then Alex ripped at high speed down the slope. I stowed the camera and then proceeded to ski one of the fastest (if not the fastest) lines down a 14er. Truly let my skis run their course, with very little adjustment. The snow was absolutely perfectly consistent. Ski mojo returned? We shall see!

Silverheels in sweet lighting

Bross enveloped in a gauzy haze, being shy

Me skiing the top section - Photo Credit: Alex

Bill throwing pow

Alex with Bross behind

Me flying - Photo Credit: Alex

Somebody's happy with the day's ski!

So now that I'm caught up, I'll try to not let so much time go between TR's, since going through that many photos.... a bit overwhelming. And as to the Subi, she's back to fine health thanks to Super Rupair, with even less Buffalo rust underneath!

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

Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):
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Comments or Questions
Great work
05/14/2015 21:36
on getting those peaks in great conditions! I wish I’d joined you for Cameron. Weather is crazy, but scenery is amazing.

05/15/2015 07:51
nice job, as usual

Its a pleasure reading your trip reports
05/15/2015 15:47
Your trip reports are the absolute best!

Great Spring!
05/17/2015 20:39
Add another one to the list, although you had already gotten it done been a great season so far, and it’s still snowing, not even close to over yet! Wonderful write up Otina!

05/18/2015 16:00
Nat – When you are list–less, you can cherry pick some great lines

mountaingoat–G –

MarkSandusky – Glad you enjoy them

Zach – A very unique spring for sure. Here’s to another month of skiing!

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