Peak(s):  Turner Peak  -  13,233 feet
Date Posted:  06/03/2015
Date Climbed:   05/31/2015
Author:  Tony1
Additional Members:   WillRobnett, Wildernessjane, BenfromtheEast, globreal, bergsteigen, EatinHardtack, BillMiddlebrook
 Turns on Turner   

Well, turns for 5 of us, although the 4 of us hikers did manage to get in some awesome butt-turns in the form of glissading.

Northwest Ridge
3 miles, 2000 ft RT
Sunday, May 31, 2015

During the 2015 Spring Gathering, a group of 9 was formed for a little adventure on Sunday morning. The objective was Turner Peak, an often-overlooked 13er to the southwest of Mount Yale, across Denny Creek. There isn't much of an "official" route up Turner, as there are a couple different ways to gain its summit. On this spring-summer transitional day, we used the northwest ridge from the western drainage along Chaffee County 306 (the Cottonwood Pass road). The belligerents? Tony (Tony1), Britt (Globreal), Will (WillRobnett), Jane (Wildernessjane) and Dave, Otina (Bergsteigen), Bill (BillMiddlebrook), Zach (EatinHardtack), and Ben (BenfromtheEast).

We all parked in a roadside parking lot at approximately 11,400 feet along the road, and started northeast up the bare gully about 0.1 mile farther up the road.

Orientation map, with our parking lot circled and our path indicated.

Looking out across the road and parking area upon starting. Photo by Otina.

Looking down the initial climb.

Our first view of Turner.

Once this preliminary section started to flatten out, we cut through the trees to our south (climbers' right), to avoid more rugged, up-and-down terrain toward our left. Walking into the trees, I promptly sunk to my waist in the snow. Perhaps sitting on my back wasn't the best place for my snowshoes to be.

After a quick jaunt through the forest, we turned to the north on a gentle ascent toward a saddle at approximately 12,100 feet. To the right was the northwest sub-summit of Turner, which stands at about 13,000 feet, and to the left was an obscure little mountain of about 12,600 feet in elevation.

Looking toward the low saddle, with our ridge visible on the right.

Upon reaching the low saddle, we all got out our ice axes, the skiers put the skis on their packs, and we started up the steep ridge toward Turner's sub-summit. The first couple hundred feet was rather steep, but it mellowed out a little as we climbed higher.

Ascending the initial, steeper part of the ridge.

As we ascended, we traversed to the southeast toward the saddle of the sub-summit and Turner proper. Some of us stayed higher than others, and some a little too high, requiring some descending on the traverse (cough me cough), but our general direction was a beeline toward the high saddle.

Looking toward the high saddle from a couple hundred feet above the low saddle.

Making our way up and across, with the summit of Turner on the left. So much personal space! Reminds me of the picture of Swe

I maybe got a little too excited. Photo by Britt.

Approaching the high saddle. From here to the summit is about 450 vertical feet.

We reached the saddle at 12,800 feet, and the cold breeze picked up. We admired the views to the northeast and southwest (okay, I really mean to say some of us took turns going for a right piss) as we re-grouped. The short break left most of us feeling chilly, and one by one, we started up the final stretch of the climb. The high and exposed (no pun intended) nature of this ridge lent itself to varying snow conditions. Parts were very soft, others still very firm, and some parts were even - as Ben would say - sufficiently squishy.

Sunscreen time at the high saddle. Photo by Otina.

Making our way up the final ridge to the summit, with the sub-summit in the background.

Almost there!

Before I knew it, I joined Britt and Jane at the top. Shortly after, Will stepped up to the summit. Now, I don't mean to brag, but... suck it skiers, the hikers won this ascent!

Jane, Will, and I. All smiles! Photo by Britt.

Looking back toward where we started from the summit.

The Apostles and Huron from the summit.

Looking down the valley toward Buena Vista from the summit.

As the rest of the party got to the summit, we congregated on a bench about 10 feet below the summit which was perfectly sheltered from the wind. The skiers caught interest in the couloir dropping east from the summit. It was a great line. They ended up skiing the top couple hundred feet before re-ascending to the summit. This gave the west face of Turner some more time to soften up nicely as well.

The skiers on the summit (well, in the wind break). Photo by Bill.

Bill drops into the couloir.

Zach then "shreds the gnar."

Ben "milks the goods," as he also likes to say.

Otina's turn. Photo by Bill.

Us hikers had glissading on our minds. Harder snow? No problemo! We returned to the high saddle and turned southwestward. When the angle got steep enough, we took turns glissading straight down the mountain, standing up and walking every couple hundred feet to go around bushes and/or small rocks. One last and fast glissade brought us back to the flatter terrain below the west slopes of Turner. We promptly re-joined our tracks from earlier and followed them back toward the road, with Will staying a little higher in order to stay on dry ground.

I love glissading!

Will slides his way down the first half of the final, steepest part.

Looking back at our tracks on the west slopes with Turner's summit in view.

Just before the last short descent, we turned around to see the skiers back on the summit. Then one started skiing the face, then another. We watched them for a few minutes before finishing up the last little bit of the descent.

The skiers beginning their descent.

For a skier's perspective of the descent, here is what Otina had to say:

"Upon arrival at the summit, the skiers quickly transitioned for a quick and dirty 200' of steep skiing off the east couloir. Top part was still reasonably firm, but as we jumped turned down, it got sloppier and sloppier. With diminishing returns on the skiing, we traverse to the ridge for a short, but posthole laden return trip to the summit. We waited for a while for the sun to hit the west face, but we couldn't wait all day. So with Bill leading through the rocky upper face, we made it down to the money middle section with some creamy turns. Then it was pick your own gully for the drop into the lower valley. Sloppy snow returned only as we neared the road. A beautiful short and sweet peak ski!"

Skiing down the west face of Turner. Photo by Otina.

Finishing up the steep stuff. Photo by Bill.

What seemed like only a couple minutes after reaching the cars, the skiers arrived one-by-one. We were all back safely.

We stripped ourselves of our heavier gear and boots, Will brought out the nutrient supplements, Ben whipped out the pringles, and we all sat around for a while, enjoying the nice day.

A car drove by and Otina said, "Oh, we just got selfied." The passenger of that car definitely stuck their phone out the window and took a creeper shot of us. Apparently spending time outside is weird? I can see the facebook post now about crazy people "going up there?!" Tourists, man...

Great peak, great team, great morning. Hopefully this report also helps put some more beta out there for this peak.

Here is our approximate route (with the hikers' descent). The ascent goes up and around, connecting the two saddles, while the descent was straight down the peak.

Pay no attention to the somewhat crappy design.


Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):
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Comments or Questions
Not a fair fight
06/03/2015 15:23
Ya do realize with the snow so cold on that west face, we weren’t exactly in a hurry to carry the extra 15lbs of gear up

Nice beta for future trips. Great day out in the hills!

06/03/2015 20:36
Just a fun easy day out. Love getting on new peaks and finding gems you would never have thought were there, first ski line. Also nice to see that I actually look like I can ski in some photos, thanks for the shot!

06/29/2015 21:36
I’ve had an eye on that peak for a while – maybe I’ll get a shot... Someday

great beta
05/14/2017 14:24
used it at this spring gathering to tag it.

Note the gate to cottonwood pass is closed, but you can drive around it. Otherwise you'd have to hike the road about 7 miles extra roundtrip.

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