Peak(s):  Aetna, Mt  -  13,745 feet
Date Posted:  04/26/2019
Modified:  04/28/2019
Date Climbed:   04/24/2019
Author:  Jay521
 A Grand Glissade   

How to freeze your butt in 20 minutes...

Aetna from Monarch Pass - Had I seen this before the hike, I might have chickened out!

Trailhead: FS230 & US50 - per Bill's Route Description
Route: Grand Couloir
Length:7.5 miles
Vertical: 4100 feet
Partners: Solo

Mount Aetna had been on my list for some time. When I was in the Navy, I was stationed in Sicily in the late 1960's and lived in a little town called Motta Sant'Anastasia and had a wonderful view of Mount Etna - the largest and most active volcano in Italy. What looks like clouds in the following picture is actually smoke from the volcano.

Motta with Etna in the background - photo credit Antonio Di Caudo

This was a tough one for me - tougher than it should have been. I've been an insomniac my entire adult life and normally can force a good night's sleep with a Lunesta tablet but for whatever reason, it just didn't work for me the night before. And I didn't really eat anything after noon the day before either, so I was struggling before I started. It COULDN'T be that I am old and not in the best of shape! No way! That's my story and I'm sticking to it! <smile>

I didn't make the best time on this hike and came close to turning around about 1000 feet shy of the summit when I really started bonking but decided that as close as I was, I just had to tough it out and continue. And in a way, going slower means that I enjoy the views a bit more as I stop to catch my breath. Which happened a lot on this one.

To the hike...

I left the TH about 5:45 and needed my headlamp for probably a half an hour or so. Conditions going up the road were fine in the morning as the snowmobiles had packed the snow plus it was relatively frozen early in the morning. Coming down it was a little slushy but not bad.

The road up.
Waning gibbous moon

Users bmcqueen and Tornadoman had done this hike a few days prior and advised me of the times it took them (I was a lot slower) and of the evidence of an avalanche I would see along the way. That evidence was very apparent about a half mile before the Boss Lake cutoff.

As described in Bill's route description, the trail stays in the trees for a bit and then things start to open up.
Clover Mountain?

It took me just over 2 hours to make 2.5 miles to the runout. Talk about slow...

Here we go...

I started out just booting it up, then switched to snowshoes for a while - mainly for traction and then finally crampons the last half of the climb.

Steepness about 1/3 the way up.
And a look back down from about the same spot.

Cornices off to the left of the route about half way up.

And a couple snow rollers resemble a duck or a goose going up. I did manage to pass him!

Steeper near the top.
The final push

And a short vid from the same spot.

One more look down from the summit ridge - note the white circle in the middle of the photo - that's the runout where I started up.

It took me just over 3 hours to get from the runout to the summit - certainly not a blazing pace, but I made it.

Vid of the final summit ridge with a 360 from the summit.

As always, the views from the summit were stellar.



But now, it's time to go down. It was my intention to glissade all the way down but I was a bit nervous about how the upper couloir would direct me as it looked like I would be heading for the rocks so I ended up walking down a few hundred feet to insure I had a clear and safe path.

Short vid of the walk down of the upper portion of the descent

And then it was glissade time! I ended up stopping several times - to both get some self arrest practice in and to warm my butt some. As there were a lot of ski and board tracks, the ride down was a bit bumpy as you will see...

This was a fun, fun day - as they always are in the Colorado mountains!

One last look.

Thanks for taking the time to read this and please be careful out there.

Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26

Comments or Questions

Nicely done!
04/26/2019 12:39
Looks like you timed it really well, snow conditions wise. Glad you persevered and made it to the top.


Nice work!
04/26/2019 12:59
Hoping to do this soon. Fun report.


Nice report and photos
04/26/2019 13:44
Aetna and Taylor are on my radar. I'm glad you didn't turn around so close to the summit. Looks like a fun day.

way to go!
04/26/2019 16:15
Have always liked the view of Aetna/Taylor from Monarch Pass. Have to be careful not to drive off the road looking at it.

Wow. How recent is that avalanche damage? Was that an obstacle?

Loved the glissade video. A self-described "old guy" goes helter-skelter down the long, steep, south couloir of Aetna, then tells us all to be careful out there.


04/26/2019 17:59
@David - Thanks! Yeah, the timing was more luck than skill, tho

@Kirsten - I'm sure you won't have any trouble. Thanks for your comments.

@Eddie - You will like those peaks. And yeah - I'm glad I didn't bail. I would've been kicking myself if I had.

@rrk - I think that avy was some time back as all the snow that caused it was melted. No obstacle for foot traffic - and it looked like snow machines weren't having any issue getting by as someone (maybe them?) had sawed some of the limbs to allow passage. It's gonna be a while before 4X4's are gonna get through tho. And I cracked up at your last comment! Thanks for keeping me honest!


Good report, Jay!
04/27/2019 18:12
But what was your butt-slide top speed?


04/27/2019 18:44
Nice shot of Etna and great work on "Aetna". Glissading is fun.


04/27/2019 18:58
Nice work Jay! That's a lot of mileage and elevation with snow!


Even more impressive
04/28/2019 13:38
that you mastered the V2 trip report editing version, sir! This is pretty grand.


Speed, etc
04/28/2019 15:06
@Rob K - Prob wasn't all that fast but when you are that close to the ground, it sure seems fast!

@Rob C - Thanks! Glissading IS fun (especially cuz I don't ski...)

@Polar - Thanks, man. I really appreciate your comments.

@Natalia - LOL! Yeah - that took me a bit, for sure. But I honestly like it now.


04/28/2019 16:07
Way to persist/persevere despite dubious personal conditions.
My favorite video is the glissade. Great way to move down a mountain quickly!
Looks like you had a great day! :-D
Thanks for the conditions detail & report!


04/28/2019 17:51
Nice job on a winter climb, Jay!

Your first video sounded more l like a porno flick with all that deep breathing, but I enjoyed your last one.

But I think I'd still prefer to go down that slope with a toboggan instead of my butt.


Mountain porn...
04/29/2019 15:54
@Doug - I about spit my coffee all over my screen when I read your comment. There are about 1000 things I can think to say but I think I'll just say "Thanks"... I think.... Be well, my friend...

@sunny1 - As always, you are so positive in your comments - not just on my TR's but on the forum, and TR's in general. Thanks!

Nice work!
05/05/2019 20:18
Aetna is a fun mountain, and it's a treat that you had snow from the runout to the summit. Glad you pushed through to the top and got your glissade and views, too.


Thank you!
05/06/2019 08:23
Much appreciated, Joseph. You are correct - it is a fun mountain.

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