Peak(s):  Gladstone Ridge  -  13,209 feet
Taylor Mountain A  -  13,651 feet
Taylor Mountain A  -  13,651 feet
Date Posted:  06/04/2019
Date Climbed:   05/26/2019
Author:  bergsteigen
Additional Members:   MonGoose, BenfromtheEast
 Never Summer   

Gladstone Ridge

  • mileage: 9.39
  • elevation gain: 3,339'
  • trailhead: Denny Creek
  • partners: solo
  • May 24

With a fresh dumping of new snow, I wasn't going to attempt anything steep solo, so a simple ski of the north bowls of Gladstone Ridge were in order. With the road closed at the Denny Creek trailhead, I would have 1-2 miles of extra road walking to do unfortunately.

A post sunrise start happened more because my sleeping arrangement was quite comfortable. I got started after at least 2 gals went up Yale. Soon after walking around the gate, a truck showed up and opened said gate! WHAT?!? I kept turning around, and hoping they would give me a ride, but they didn't drive immediately. A few minutes later 2 snowmachiners in their trucks showed up and offered me a ride, but I was already looking for a stream crossing by then. I should have taken them up on their offer to get up to FS 346, but I had grandiose plans to cut some distance and traverse up to the ascent ridge. This turned out to be foolish.

Moon over Gladstone ridge from road walk

At a large pullout area, I decided now would be my time to cross the stream. Flatter area, meant wider but shallower stream. Too bad I didn't know the area directly upstream was called the Holywater Beavers. Great name. Should be a giant red flag for 'Don't cross here'. Somehow I managed to get lucky and cross the stream at the lowest beaver dam. It was tricky with skis on my pack and bush whacking, but somehow I crossed with out slipping off the snow covered logs and twigs! Most dangerous part of the day!

Beaver dam crossing - most dangerous part of the day!
Icy Beaver Dam pond
Turner above the Holywater Beavers

Once on the south side of the stream, the slope goes steeply up and through a zone of some deadfall. Not catastrophic, just slooooow going. At least once I had to take off the skis to boot up a 10 foot steep slope. It wasn't until near an old mining road, that the slope eased and travel speed went up. At this point I knew catching that ride up to the road and going the 'long way' would have been much faster! Silly me. Longer distance and fast steady pace > short cut up steep, treed slope.

Once above the road, I got treated to a nice view of Turner and Mt Yale before making the last bit of elevation gain up to the ridge proper. Once on the ridge, it was a bit of in and out of the trees, before I got onto the upper ridge above treelike. Easy skinning from the road on up! If you count breaking trail solo through a few fresh inches of powder, easy...

Taylor and Yale above the trees
Frosted Flakes ie trees
Frosted trees and moon
Holywater Beavers

First views of the summit of Gladstone Ridge were nice. It looked like I would have options, if already wind effected ones. The snow only fell yesterday, but it was already looking loaded in spots.

Gladstone Ridge north face
Ridge up to the main ridge, almost continuous snow.

The wind really picked up to gale force strength once I reached the upper ridge. This in turn froze my camera battery, and I didn't bring the spare hidden in my car. So I beelined it for the summit, transitioned and skied back down to my entrance quickly. The wind while strong, only tried to knock me down a couple times. Still, I wasn't going to wait around longer for it to gust any stronger!

Ridge up to the summit

Pano south

Pano north

I quickly got down the ridge to the saddle area. I figured this zone might have the better powder than directly off the summit. As you can tell by my tracks, I zig zagged that upper zone looking for the powder I had below in the trees. It wasn't quite there. So then I just chose a line and skied down it. I found some powdery turns in spots, but I still had to ski it pretty carefully in case the snow was too punchy.

Entrance into the saddle ski

Looking down my line, with Yale above

My turns off the saddle, once I chose a spot

Mini pano of Turner and Yale before I went back into the trees

Gladtone Ridge with my turns gracing its surface.

Once down to treeline, I followed the open zone to skier right and kept the traverse going until I knew I had to go into the trees and find that old mining road. I was NOT going to test the HolyWater Beavers or a lower crossing of the stream. I would rather go a further distance and walk an extra mile on the road! So I cut hard left into the trees and found the road, just above where I had crossed it in the morning.

The switchbacks on the road were pretty long and flat, so I cut a couple of them where the snow looked good. Ran into a couple footprints a few tenths of a mile from the main road, so I knew I was super close then! Now I was really hoping for those snowmachiners to give me a ride!!!

Side of the road skiing

I put up my hot pink sticks at the side of the road, in case anyone came along, but they didn't. So I walked to the other side and skied the snow on the side for as far as it would go, maybe a quarter mile. Better than walking! Right as I was transitioning to the hot pavement walk, a motorcycle zipped past. Ha, no way I was getting a ride on that with my skis. Even an unmarked LEO came by in his SUV, but he just went up and down the road with only a slight wave/nod. 2 miles of hot road to walk, but at least now I would be going to a camp out with a group of friends, so I could dry my gear for the next day of skiing!

Taylor Mountain A

  • mileage: 8.2
  • elevation gain: 4,106'
  • trailhead: Almost HWY 50 at town of Garfield on FS 228
  • partners: solo
  • May 25

With both of my partners bailing for the day, I decided to go with another easy lower angled line. I would go for something steeper with an advanced partner on Sunday (or so I thought). Plus after an evening of hanging out around the fire with friends, I also wasn't going to be setting any early morning starts!

I'm not quite familiar with the 4wd roads in the area, and so I started up the 4wd road that I remember seeing on multiple passes up and over Monarch Pass, and from a couple ski trips in the area. I drove up to the first switchback, and realized ol 3.6R Subi wasn't going to have the clearance to make it to the next one. So I parked it. I also didn't know how far up the snow would start, and if there'd be a spot to park. One does NOT want to block the road for other 4 wheelers. So I figured I'd take the exercise and walk the extra distance. Unfortunately in my tired state, I also thought the switchback I was on, was the only one, and I ended up walking DOWN the road in the wrong directions. I eventually figured this out, after adding on a quarter mile. The road up to where the snow started was like a super highway compared the 4WD road I started on. I wondered if it started the same off HWY 50? (It does, it's just not signed, so you need a GPS to find it)

When I got to the snow on the road 0.75 miles and ~600' up, I kept on booting up, since the snow was nice and firm. When I got to the mine and saw the FS road go downhill on a dry section, I knew transitioning earlier would have been wasted effort.

Below mine, FS road goes to the right.

Once on the east side of the mine, I put on my skis and skins, and started up the slope to the ridge. Encountered some avalanche debris from the record setting winter we've had.

Gully up to the ridge, even here there is avalanche debris!

The slope up to the ridge started easy, but the fresh snow had iced up on top, and I was having difficulty with my skins gripping the surface. I also was using my old 105 width skins on my new 112 powder boards, so I had some trouble on the way up. So I put the skis on my pack and started booting up. Because of the punch crust, every step was a big effort, as I would punch though every time, except for maybe 3 steps. Now I was really annoyed that I didn't have a partner. That last section up to the ridge took longer than I would have liked.

First view of east face of Taylor from the ridge

Once up on the ridge, I was able to skin a bit further, before finding more slippery icy snow, that I returned to booting again. Booted all the way to the summit, with crampons.

Mt Ouray and neighbor 13er looking snowy

Fly over
Nearing the summit via the rocky south ridge

I was treated to a nice sunny summit, once surviving all the booting up through fresh snow, that was still punchy in spots.

Pano west - north

Pano South

Aetna looks skiable on all sides!
Antero, Tab and Shavano showing off their dry sides. Antero looks as unskiable as normal.

Since the northern slopes of the ridge looked heavily loaded with sustrugi snow and I was solo, I figured I would just ski the face and then head down the ridge. That way there wasn't any extra uphill. I was also wondering how fast that southern gully would turn to slop. So I figured getting there sooner rather than later was in order.

The snow started off firm and winter like with sustrugi galore. The DPS skis floated like a dream over the sustrugi! The face itself was still firm and hardback, and there the skis had a bit harder time edging, being so fat (112mm). But at least I was edging easily enough. Turning around, I could barely see my turns, as I wasn't displacing much snow at all! It was that wintery! Down on the ridge itself, the snow softened up and the winter sustrugi was smooshy. On the steeper section that was icy in the morning, that I had to boot, it was actually CORN. Like real spring corn! Relished those delightful few turns!

Looking down my line to the ridge
Looking back at may corn turns down the ridge and back at the summit

The gully ski to the south got a bit surfy, as the top wintery snow was all sloppy and sliding a bit on the lower transitioned surface. Good thing it was low enough angle to NOT slide! Still, my turns were pretty wide and surfy as I headed down the slope, as a few times my tails started to spin out from under me. Hurray for powder skis!

As I was skiing down the gully, I saw 2 Jeeps near the mine, and wondered how the heck they had made it up the deeply snowy road. As I crossed their upper tracks, they had barely sunk in at all. Below on the road, they had sunk in a foot or more!

Looking down the south gully and the mine area

I took the road system to the east of the mine and made my way through the drainage, instead of going back up to the road. The drainage meets back up with the road at the mining ruins. From that point it was just a quick ski down the Jeep demolished road. The snow was still continuous enough, I only had to take my skis off once to cross a short dry patch.

Mining ruins along the road
Jeep wheel well snow caste!

Once I got to the dry part of the road, I really regretted not dropping my gear and driving the 3.6R up further to this spot. The road was pretty steep for my hot feet in my damp ski boots, but once again, I would have a nice hot campfire to dry out at, with a bunch of friends!

Taylor Mountain A

  • mileage: 6.67
  • elevation gain: 3,655'
  • trailhead: Where the snow starts on FS 228
  • partners: Nick & Ben
  • May 26

WHAT?!?!? I skied the same peak, 2 days in a row??? Yes, I'm that good of a partner. So what happened? Hanging out at the campfire all night happened. Like all night. Plus with sustrugi and hardback at elevation, I wasn't exactly liking the steeper Monumental east face ski with a partner that doesn't like steep. One partner that I was supposed to ski with, decided to go for Wheeler instead. So after a lot of back and forth trying to come up with an option the 3 of us would like, that would also allow us to sleep in, it was decided to go for Taylor, again. At least this time, I knew we could ski the full face as it would be safely transitioned now. At least a semi different line...

Plus I knew the secret entrance to the road! Well, not so secret, it's on my car's GPS, but still. There is no sign marking or naming the road. So that's pretty sneaky IMO! This time I would also ski the peak in my Kastle T90's and get a really good compare contrast on similar snow and conditions. All season I've been learning completely new gear. Seeing which ski handles best in what conditions. I love the DPS for powder and punchy but the Kastle's are far superior on steep and firm. They suck in punchy, and are almost terrifying, as I found out on Guyot earlier.

Sunrise from camp, as I waited for the boys to get ready. Princeton looks IN.

After spending sunrise still in camp, we were finally on the road to the peak, where I got a decent view of the face without the afternoon clouds of the day before.

Taylor Man A - east face from HWY 50

We drove right on up to the start of the snow, and parked at a mini campsite, well off the road. Just in case there were more monster Jeeps driving today.

The snow was firm still, so we booted up till about the same place I started skinning the day before. I didn't think skinning around and through the Jeep tracks would be efficient.

Starting up the snowy road
Dang! Check out my sexy surfy turns in the early morning light!

Today I could tell a lot of snow transitioning had happened in 24hrs of freeze-thaw. The skin up went easily, no need for booting as the snow was perfectly grippy! The guys skinned all the way to the summit, but I booted up using someones PERFECT booter from the day before. Oh yeah, that was my booter ;)

Ben skinning up through my oxbow of a sloppy turn! Weird to experience my turns from the day before!
Pretty cool scenery, not terrible to see it again.

Nick with Ouray behind

The guys skinning up through my turns from the day before. Making $$$$$

Skinning up with Tab & Shav in distance
Skin it to win it!
Nick nearing the summit on skis, while I use my perfect booter

As we approached the summit, the days storm clouds quickly moved in. The price we payed to sleep in. We also lost the bit of corn that had transitioned for us. Everything costs something, nothing is for free.

Pano west & north

Pano south

Summit selfie! We're all wearing blue!

Since there was no reason to wait much longer, we started skiing down after our summit break. The corn we had noticed on our way up, was now refrozen. The light was low and the photography difficult. But we still had a glorious ski down, if a bit icier than it could have been.

Ben kicking up that sustrugi powder!
Ben carving that sustrugi

Nick skiing the upper ridge face with Tab and Shav behind
Ben on the face

Nick above the east face gully
Ben laying into that turn on the face

Nick on the lower gully face

Ben letting it rip down to the basin below
Looking back up at the line. Some decent snow in there!

From the bottom of the line, we did a quick skin back up to the ridge.

Quite the views back on the ridge!

We then ripped down the south gully in improving light, as one round of clouds had passed over head. We could have waited, but one never knows with sucker holes!

Ben starting down the south gully
Nick down below on the gully

Ben is all smiles
Ben ripping past

Skiing down the drainage showed how much snow had melted lower down in one day. Sections that I could carefully ski through rocks, now were full on melted. Even the drainage ski to the mine was a bit harder. At least once back on the road, the ski down was pretty quick, even if there were more dry patches and a few more zones to carry the skis across

The only tricky section. How do you like my "snow blades" now Nick?

Overall it was a good ski, and it was interesting to see the difference a day made in the the snow quality. The company made skiing the same peak a different experience, and it was nice to have the beta to shorten the trip as much as possible. As for the skis, I would have liked the DPS's on both days. Skiing the refrozen hardback up on the upper face was much easier with the Kastle's, but the lower sections were sloppy enough, that the DPS's would have shined once again.

Sunset from camp

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

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 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36 37 38 39 40 41 42 43 44 45 46 47 48 49 50

Comments or Questions
Good one!
06/04/2019 17:10
I need to explore the Never Summers! Thanks for the report.

06/05/2019 09:52
Great pix - as always!!

06/05/2019 12:50
Loved some of your ridge and late sun shots!

06/05/2019 13:21
Sorry I couldn't make one of the Taylor days. What a season

06/06/2019 18:13
Rob - Not exactly the Never Summer Range, but I do have a TR for Mt Cumulus from a few years ago. That€„¢s a good late season ski!

Jay & Doug - Glad you enjoy the photos, even if it€„¢s a ski trip ;)

Bill - Yep, missed you on Taylor! The season that keeps on giving!

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