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Peak(s):  "Hassell Peak"  -  13,223 feet
Date Posted:  05/07/2019
Date Climbed:   05/02/2019
Author:  bergsteigen
Additional Members:   TakeMeToYourSummit
 Never a Hassell to repeat   

Hassell Peak

  • mileage: 8.18
  • elevation gain: 3,035'
  • trailhead: Jones Pass Winter closure
  • partners: Brad & Keenan

I had been trying to get out to Aspen to ski with Brad for a few months now, but between schedules and weather, things didn't work before the lifts closed and slack country was made harder. I knew his wish list included Hassell peak and with the recent snow, figured this would be a good peak for the day when the snow stopped falling and the sun came out. Good thing someone else suggested the same peak at the same time!

We started around sunrise from the winter trailhead for the familiar backcountry zone. It's a quick skin up to the ridge where we got our first views of the caked east face of Hassell and neighbors. From skiing Loveland the previous 2 days, I had a good idea of conditions, just a little bit down the ridge to the north.

First view of Hassell

Hassell in the neighborhood

From getting up onto the ridge, the wind picked up a bit and that's where I realized I left my shell in the car, so only a puffy with my lower layers today. Let's hope it doesn't get too bad!

We skinned along the ridge or just below to the south until I figured the split boarders wouldn't get traction anymore. From there, I let them lead the booter to the ridge, since I had broke the skin track to this point. Because of all the side hilling, the ridge felt a bit longer than before. Last time I just booted up, since there wasn't snow last season late in May. Thankfully the booter up to the ridge wasn't too bad, especially being third in line.

Skin it to win it!
Approaching the ridge

Last bit of skinning
Boot to the ridge

A little mind bending ridge to ridge pano

Keenen putting in the booter to the ridge
Brad action shot

Once on the ridge, we followed the summer trail up to the summit. I had kind of forgot about that part. We may have been able to skin along the cornice, but then we'd be in the wind and on a cornice. There was just enough snow along the ridge, it was a bit more challenging than last time. Since I brought crampons, I led and put in the booter.

Brad starting along the ridge
Traversing around the first section
Great view of the backside of Pettingell. That line looks more complicated to ski, but it looks so fat right now!

We got to the summit around noon and the snow was still pretty cold thanks to the wind. Some great views with the building clouds.

Evans and Bierstadt
Torreys lines looking better than earlier in the season

Pano west

Pano east

Me channelling my inner Richardson and pointing out the various peaks to Keenan - Photo Credit: Brad

I had originally thought to ski the safe line off Hassell, but the steeper line(s) were ever so tempting. With every step on the uphill Brad and I were looking at the snow. I had reasonable confidence that the lower new snow was bonding well with the old surface, but was less confident near the summit with the winds. We didn't have a great zone to test, so we all decided that skiing the safe line was more than ok. We'd be skiing powder either way!

I led down the ridge to grab photos. The snow felt pretty good, even if near to the ridge crest the new snow was a bit thinner.

Off the summit down the ridge a bit. Dropping to the north is sooooo tempting!

Keenan kicking up the ridge powder
Camera got confused what I wanted in focus
Brad coming in hot

The drop off the ridge was a bit steeper and therefore lots more fun! Snow was still holding up well, and hadn't really warmed up too much.

Keenan riding down
Brad's ballet moves

Brad throwing up the cold powder
Our turns, skier vs snowboarder

Pano from the upper basin

From the upper basin, we had the last steep drop before traversing over to the ridge, to reclimb and descend the other side. Being a skier I could stop midway for photos, as the boarders beelined it to the other side.

Keenan riding down the last main drop
Keenan traversing hard

Brad starting off before straight lining it
Our turns off the summit from the ridge reascend

Pano from our ridge reascend

From the ridge, we had another nice little drop before the flat valley exit to the trees. In the basin I led out the first section, before a bit of leap frog and getting to the end of the snowboarder trap valley.

Brad dropping off the ridge
Keenan ridging off the ridge

Turns off the ridge
Looking down valley

Following the down tracks
Leap frog
Leaving the flat valley

Always wondered about that half pipe exit! Finally skied it
Combo of cold snow in the trees, back to the sunny snow caused a bit of a build up!

Once down in the trees and out of the wind and sun, we found a nice spot for a break, before the final nordic exit. I hadn't skied this zone with snowboarders before, so I got to see how difficult the flat exit was with numerous little uphills. All those areas I either skated or stomped up, were a bit more difficult for them.

Tree break!

The snow machine waves on the exit were a lot more fun than I thought at the start. I was squealing with delight as I was using it as a pump track. The look of amusement on a lady snowshoer showed how much I was enjoying it, as I passed her.

Quite a wonderful day out on really good snow with new and old friends! This might be another frequent repeat ski on my list. There are a few nearby peaks that are just fun to do, with multiple options to make it new, and this is one!

Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):
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Comments or Questions
Every time...
5/7/2019 3:23pm
Every time I see one of your winter TR's it makes me wish I had learned to ski back in the day. Another fine report, Otina!

Skiing is better than
5/9/2019 8:05pm
... walking downhill!

Jay - learning when you are young and close to the ground is very advantageous. Plus you have a lot less fear overall!

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