Peak(s):  Monumental Peak  -  13,369 feet
Chipeta Mountain  -  13,472 feet
Date Posted:  06/24/2019
Date Climbed:   06/12/2019
Author:  bergsteigen
 Monumentally different ski days   

Monumental Peak

  • mileage: 9.39
  • elevation gain: 3,097'
  • trailhead: FS 230 at Avalanche Debris, 1.1 miles from HWY 50
  • partner: For the purposes of this trip report, he wants to be known as "anonymous fat ass"
  • June 11

I've been wanting to ski this peak for a month now, but I wanted it with nice corn, not punchy sustrugi. When I first suggested it to anonymous fat ass, he was interested. He then came up with a plan to ski the 3 ranked peaks in the neighborhood. I got him down to two, for the purposes of this trip.

Drove up the night before to find him already asleep before the sun had fully set. Lucky! I had to coax myself to sleep as it approached dark, a couple hours later, after reading some.

O-4 hundred came way too early, as it always does. But at least it was "sleeping in 3 hours" over adding in another east facing line. Stomped over the avalanche debris an back onto dry road. We hiked for a while longer before putting on our ski boots. We had a good freeze, so we ended up never putting on skis and skins, just booted all the way to the summit! Following the snowy road made for some quick travel, even with a short detour up the wrong switchback. Beyond that, the road mostly disappears and the trail takes over. We didn't need to take the trail for very long, as our approach to the south ridge of Monumental was looming over us around sunrise.

Our ascent route up Monumental, as sunrise hits the upper ridge and false summit

We spied an obvious snow gully to take up into the upper basin. Kept us away from any of the usual BS in the trees with bad snow. Amazingly, we had no BS on this day! Tomorrow - I would have ALL the BS

Once above the trees and into the nice snow gully, we donned our spikes and booted up into the sunshine!

Approaching the upper basin
Anonymous fat ass with another ski target behind

Looking up at our ascent route and the huge cornices to the south
That huge snow blob... was on the ridge, not too long ago

Once beyond the reach of the corniced ridge above to our south, we angled up to the non-corniced ridge above. The wind was howling down this slope, and as such, we didn't need to hurry too much to the summit, as the snow would hold a bit longer.

On the windy ridge. A non-skiable face on Aetna!?!

Once on top of the windy ridge, it was short work up and over to the true summit. One I haven't been on in 6 years.

Summit on the far end of the ridge
The 3 southern most Sawatch 13ers

Pano east

We hung out on the summit for close to an hour, waiting for the snow to reach the perfect corn ripeness. After a season of highly variable snow, I wanted my first top to bottom, perfect corn experience!

Dropping down below the summit ridge to get into photographer position, was like entering another world. No wind! It was quite enjoyable now.

Here the anonymous fat ass becomes a skiing bad ass.

Jump turn!
El steepo
Jump with a view

After one tentative turn, to test if I was really on corn, I let it go...

It's really corn!!!
Yeah, angulation!

Corn spray on the horizon
Where's up?

Looking down the line

Corn spray
ALL smiles

Off the summit turns
Dropping down the narrows

Me entering the chute
Me in the narrows

So how fast is anonymous fat ass? SO FAST, his first corn spray hasn't hit the ground yet before the second in in the air! Darn mogul skiers and their tight fast turns!

Corn below the choke
Anonymous fat ass is SO FAST, his first corn spray hasn't hit the ground yet before the second in in the air!

Spraying me
Dropping into the lower valley

Looking back on our turns
No moguls here, but he still skis the invisible ones

Our turns
Monumental ski!

Even on the summit, we knew the peak across the way was out from the summit. Too far to even think about "counting it" as a ski descent. The line was thin even below the dry rocky summit. When we got into the drainage, we could see why. Another avalanche!

Avalanche off the unnamed 13er

Our flat exit meadow, with my peak tomorrow at the center

Aetna's Grand Couloir still looking good, even if the base is melted out
Avalanche debris on the road. Looks like someone is working on it!

It was a great day out with a ski buddy I hadn't seen in a few years. Glad he was able to see me in better form than I've been skiing lately. (even if my poles were set too long - fixed that) Now just to keep that momentum going, and regain my confidence for steep skiing. With conditions like today, that shouldn't be too difficult!

Chipeta Peak

  • mileage: 10.61
  • elevation gain: 3,844'
  • trailhead: FS 212 Pass Creek TH
  • partner: solo
  • June 12

After a stop in Salida for food to grill and to get a shot of my peak for the next day, I made my way up FS 212 as far as it would go to Pass Creek TH

Chipeta from Salida

It was an interesting trailhead I had all to myself. It's a federal mining claim, as it mentioned about 10,000 times by all the signs along the road. I got it... 100 signs ago!

My dinner table
My truck bed is tilted, but I don't care. That view!

After fueling up and getting my gear ready, it was off to slumber. I was determined to get more sleep than I did the night before, so I fell asleep well before sunset!

I got up a similar time to the day before, thinking I'd have the same amount of time for snow warm up. The first part of the trail was steep but dry. Made decent time until the snow started in earnest. It was patchy at 10,500' and continuous at 10,800'. I put my ski boots on at 10.8K and started to make my way through the patchy snow, marshy, streamy, muddy zone. I tried to follow some post holes of those that had come before, but it was too difficult. I probably zig zagged over and around streams, trying to find the best way through that 100' section of "trail". I had missed the trail to the left, since it had become part of the stream.

Chipeta at sunrise, with my line in the sun already

Once the snow became more continuous, the snow also stayed unsupportive. So on with the skis and skins. Then came the real stream crossing, and more patchy snow with skis on. What else was coming? Oh yeah, an entire forrest worth of blown down trees!!! Oh yay!

Chipeta once I get near the lake
No way around, but through!

When I got up to the level with the lake, I saw the huge devastation by a previous wind storm. The blowdown was all around me, I couldn't see a good way to go around it, that wouldn't be the same time as struggling though it directly. Directly being a loose term for what a chicken would do with it's head cut off. An hour later, I was on the other side! An hour lost going a quarter mile.

I got up to the base of the climb, after willows and partially frozen mini ponds, because the BS was not going to end just yet on the approach.

Approaching the climb

I got to the base and I knew it was too late to ski my chosen aesthetic line. BUT I could still climb up it with MAXIMUM EFFORT! (ala Deadpool)

So I geared up with the spikes and red lined my body at it's VO2 max all the way up the couloir. By the time I reached the top, my boot prints were farther in than desired for a ski down the same way.

Starting gate. GO!

Looking down the line

Not alive

After flooring it up the couloir, I was treated to a slightly cool summit breeze. I knew I had options to ski down the north, as a return of whence I came, was not possible.

More famous neighbor to the south

Pano east

Ski off the summit

After some quick summit snaps, it was off down the north ridge, which had perfect corn still, thanks to the light breeze.

After the initial drop down the ridge, I got into a series of warmer snow pitches. The last of which I had to dodge a marmot running between a rock and his hole!

Looking down the ridge
Some creamy turns down from the ridge

Back at the base, I could relax a bit. Only the exit to go. Snack and checked out my line for awhile as I contemplated wether to try to go around to deadfall to the lake, or to be radical and try and find the perfect exit. Even though I didn't get to ski the esthetic line, I did get the smoother, better turns.

Climb left, ski smooth right
My booter and animal booter going horizontal

I skied down to a lower bench, where I could get a better view below.

Deadfall zone by lake

After looking at that, I decided I would take my chances and I went and skied the far southern line of snow off the north facing ridge. The snow was firm and was a great descent all the way to 10,900', where I found a magic snow bridge over the stream! What are the chances?!?

Looking back at my perfect exit away from the peak

Once on the other side of the stream, I angled my way up, and found the actual trail, which I followed until it became that stream where I had avoided on the way up.

Marshy goodness

I took off my ski boots early after 10.8K, thinking the worst was over, but back below in the trees, I had to put the ski boots back on. That sucked! I kept the ski boots on till I knew the snow patched were completely avoidable near 10.5K.

With a mile left of trail, I met a new local gal, who instead of asking me about the lake, was interested to hear about the ski! So rare to meet fellow shredders on the trail! So I gave her the beta on how to ski the peak without the grand majority of the hassle I did.


Even though I didn't get to ski my chosen line, I did get to climb it. This approach was new to me, and didn't realize there was access until I started looking at maps to see how I could ski this line - without a reclimb and hike on the backside, like how I hiked it the first time from Marshal Pass. Always love the adventure, just wish I had gotten up earlier to deal with the BS. Not every day can be Monumental ;)

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
Nice report Otina!
06/25/2019 12:32
I definitely recognize your "anonymous fat ass"... no worries - the secret is safe with me (I can't speak for others who will figure it out). A couple good looking lines for sure! Your pic up Aetna makes me debate still going for it this year... lol!

As always...
06/25/2019 13:55
... a great report.

06/28/2019 10:54
Brad - He wanted me to blur out his face or put a black bar over, but I just couldn€„˘t do it! I can€„˘t ruin a great photo! South lines melt out so fast, especially southern Sawatch. Now the problem will be overnight freezing!

Jay - Glad a non skier can still enjoy them!

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