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Peak(s):  Deer Mountain  -  13,758 feet
"K 49"  -  13,543 feet
Date Posted:  07/01/2019
Date Climbed:   06/27/2019
Author:  bergsteigen
 Racing the summer sun   

K 49

  • mileage: 9.08
  • elevation gain: 3,146'
  • trailhead: North Half-moon
  • partner: For the purposes of this trip report, he wants to be known as "anonymous fat ass"
  • line: east face
  • June 26

Overnight freezes are gold this time of year. It means you can get up at a normal, but yet still painful time of day, to ski your line of choice. Coming off of last weekends snow storm, we were in the green light for go time. So anonymous and I came up with a plan to ski K 49. In summer, this peak is full of scree to descend, but snow would make it much more pleasurable!

We were able to easily drive to the trailhead and get some sleep before an 0-400 start again. First section of trail is muddy, but then rapidly improves. Snow patches start within the mile, and anonymous dunked a foot into a mini stream when a bit of snow collapsed on him. We then transitioned to ski boots, before any more feet became victims to non frozen water. (what is that?!?)

I got momentarily excited when the trees thinned out and reached the open section of trail. But that's when we came across the first avalanche path of destruction. And the willows. Those pesky, nasty, willows. We bashed around a bit, until we clawed our way out of them and onto avy snow that looks to be 20' thick! That's NOT melting this summer! Then the hiking became much easier. We had to angle upslope to find roughly where the trail was, so that we could find it when the avy snow ended and we were back to dry-ash trail for a bit.

Sunrise kissing the summit of K 49

We decided to cross the stream for the standard route up Oklahoma, before descending into the drainage to find a snow bridge to get up into the basin below K 49's east face. We had a couple big stream crossings to do, and one involved balancing on a big log. Oh joy!

Is this his happy or FU face? I saw both, but the camera captured the smiley one at least.

Dropping down into the drainage, we ran into another avalanche path, this one looks to be brand spanking new! Lots of old trees in the mix.

Major new avalanche path, with K 49 behind

After crossing the snow bridges over the streams, we made our way up the lightly forested slope to K 49. Some nice ice features to admire along the way.

Icy reflections
Ice crystal marsh

Beyond the trees, the way becomes obvious, and the snow is solid as a rock. Nice icy lake with the Massive behind.

Approaching the basin below K 49
Icy lake with Massive

Turning the corner, we get our first close up view of the face and potential ski lines. The left side has an opening in the ridge cornice, but it will be a bit of a steep exposed entrance. But that's where the smooth turns will be, so that's our plan A

First view of K49's face

Anonymous had been studying the map hard, and figured there would be an easy snow slope up to the right, that would make for the simplest access to the ridge to the summit. We donned crampons when it got steep enough to slip, and were rapidly on to the ridge.

Ridge to the summit

A couple of rocky sections to negotiate with ski boots on, but overall an easy stroll to the summit.

Class 4 boulder we decided to go around, when we couldn't find an easy way down.
Oklahoma looking good
Mt Massive

Champion's east face
13,736 east face - need to ski this one some time!

Oh Deer, that face looks soooooo good! That line... I'll get to see it from the top tomorrow!

Pano east

Pano west

First time I was on the summit, 7 years ago. It was dry then!

After the summit photo shenanigans, it was time to ski! Right off the summit too.

Right next to the summit cairn
Ski down to the steep entrance, Elbert behind

At first, I didn't think too much of the entrance to the face. Steep, but we got it. Then I stood on top and was like, yeah much steeper from this angle! But as all skiers know, the longer you have to think about it, the worse it gets!

Prep work of dropping

Once off the ridge and onto the face, the skiing was great on the upper section. Nice corn to be had!

Skiing into the steep upper line

Fierce cornice behind
Turns with a view of Oklahoma

Slashing the corn
Look ma, Mikey's smiling!
Close turn

The lower section was a lot sloppier, so we both just enjoyed the remainder of the turns into the basin below.

K 49's east face ski!
Zoom of our turns. Note me trying to figure 8 the masters turns!

A nice ski in the basin below, passing by the lake and to our snow bridges across the stream. There I saw fresh evidence for a bear crossing. An hour, maybe less?

Bear tracks!
New avalanche path, with Massive behind

Parting view of K 49 from a rocky out cropping on the trail

Why did the tree loose it's top? My hypotheses is that a rock hit it during the avalanche. Oh look, a large rock to the right, below!

Exiting through the avalanche debris and the willows was much easier in the daylight. From there it was just a trail exit to our vehicles, another 13er successfully skied!

Deer Mountain A

  • mileage: 10.39
  • elevation gain: 3,603'
  • trailhead: 1st switchback on Inde Pass east
  • partner: solo
  • line: north face
  • June 27

Since anonymous had already skied Deer (and what he thought 13,300 A was), I was on my own for the next day of skiing. The freeze forecast improved over the day before, so I figured I had a good shot, if I got up there early enough. It would be the north face, so I would have extra leeway. In bed by 7pm, score! Still my early start got a bit eroded away, when I did 30 minutes of work at 3am. Darn cell service campsite! I wanted cell to check the weather before I set out. Silly me checking my email!

Started at the same spot for Brumley the week or so before. Avalanche debris from the start, before I found the trail and headed up till the first stream crossing 3/4 mile up. I figured it would be high, so I went from my hiking boots to my sandals for the crossing. It wasn't cold, until my feet were already out of the water for a couple feet. Then they started screaming at me!

I kept booting up in my hiking boots for a while longer, until the marshiness was getting a bit much, and the snow on the trail was getting a bit too punchy and soft. Caught the start of a sunrise before I got to the major snow field from a large avalanche along the valley.

Brumley pre sunrise
Brumley sunrise

The upper drainage, before my turn to the NE, became more and more snowy. Which was good, since there were still snow bridges over all the small annoying streams, that otherwise would have been problematic!

My ascent path to the high pass to access Deer's north face
Peaks to my NW. Looks like some skiing to be had still

While the freeze was adequate, I still had to avoid all willows and anything near rocks! But as I made my way up to the high saddle, the snow got more solid, and I saw a nice little pool that had some thick ice on it.

Flowers and ice on the pass

From the high pass, I could see that the peak anonymous thought was 13,300A was skiable, but the real 13,300 A was very much NOT skiable. Bill Middlebrook, your 13,300A is in the WRONG spot! It's causing innocent ski mountaineers to think they've skied a peak, when really, they have just skied a snowy bump along the ridge! We don't need any more people thinking they've summitted peaks, when they really haven't!

Pt 13,300 A in the center (not on the left)

From the saddle, I decided to keep my crampons on, and do a descending traverse to get around to Deer's north face. I didn't have to descend too far, to catch snow around the ridge. But as I was making my way around, I noted a significant amount of avalanche debris on the lower face. Some of it fresh!!! I was preparing myself to spin. I was not going to ski avalanche debris! NOT going to happen. But as I got closer, I noted that the far line to the east had a smooth patch. The summit zone above that also looked smooth. I think I have a chance! So I kept going with a super high traverse. I went as fast as I could across the face, to minimize my time in the shooting gallery from the cornices above, which were causing the fresh damage to the slope.

First view of the north face. Almost turned around here, to call it a day

Once on the other side of the worst of the damage, I climbed up a rib, to get a view into what I hoped was a smooth line. It was smooth! on the skiers left side at least. The left side also held wind drifted snow from the weekend. It was facing east. Hmmm time to sprint to the summit!!! Go!

My ascent line to the summit, to the left of the big rock block on the horizon

The snow was definitely softer where it was fresher, and I was sinking a bit. Was tough to keep up the pace, as I was punching through. What was an early summit time, was now going to cut it close! I got up to the ridge, and made my way carefully on the rocks to the short summit ridge. From the day on K49, I knew the cornices were big on this side, and I didn't want a surprise entrance onto the SE couloir line! I kinda want to ski that line even more now, but not that way!

It was a short dry hop over to the true summit, where I race through the routine. Summit register, panos and peak shots.

My 2012 summit of Deer!
2019 Deer summit, with Benners ski a couple weeks earlier!

Pano east

Pano west

Good ol Grizzley!
I'm excited and terrified at the same time! SE couloir off Deer

I made my way carefully back to the snow, and around the cornices to find a safe place to put my skis on. The pitch off the summit ridge is steep, but I manage a couple of good turns on good wind cooled corn. Phew. Steep 1 done.

Steep off the summit ridge turns

From there it was a steep drop through the rocks and over to the top of my smooth line

Looking down my booter on the traverse over to the top of my line
View down my line

Look back at the summit pitch, and my traverse

The turns off the top of the line were nice and firm, as it was more NW facing. Just transitioned corn snow, with great bite for my edges. But as I got lower, I had to avoid the slid debris snow, so I skied onto the fresh snow from the weekend snow storm. There I got a bit more sloughing, but it was early enough, that it was still stable. A bit early and a bit late, that's how lines go sometimes!

Good corn snow off the top
Looking down the middle section, where I have to ski the fresh snow on skiers left
Looking back at the middle section turns. A little bit of sloughing due to steepness

Awwww, poor guy! So beautiful

I decided to drop the entire apron of snow, because it was such perfect corn (since it was still early to ski down here). Most may do a lame ski traverse, to save themselves a couple minutes and some elevation gain, but I wanted to take a break, eat some snacks, drink some water and admire my steepest turns of the season!

Turns just steep enough to get your attention and keep it, but not enough to get you too worried.

My line and turns!
I'm a little proud of myself

Deer's very snowy north face

My upper turns, and booter to the right

Oklahoma's line off the northwest

The snow was still firm enough on the way back up to the saddle, I had to put my crampons back on! Dang! Good snow. Too bad the other side of the pass had some sloptastic snow. I got within 6 feet of a rock, and my skis sank. My drop to the drainage below was carefully metered out between rocks and willows.

13,736 north face, with big saddle pond
Skiing back down to the valley below, with the monarchs of Inde Pass behind

I collected my boots from the top of the meeting of the valleys, and continued to nordic ski down until about 1.6 miles from the trailhead. Then I booted in my ski boots to the stream crossing.

Avalanche debris
Deep gushing stream crossing

At the stream crossing, I put on my sandals and held onto all my gear for the crossing. Right at the deepest and shifted part of the crossing, you have to navigate over and through some branches, and right there the stream takes my left sandal. Gone. These sandals have been with me for years. I hiked Yosemite in them, when I only had ski boots or conference dress shoes. Oh goodbye faithful all terrain sandal! Guess I need better sandals with heel attachment!

I dry out on the other side, and put my hiking boots on for the final stretch along the trail to the makeshift trailhead, buried under avalanche debris.

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
Avalanche and tree
7/2/2019 6:58am
Damn. That's impressive.

7/2/2019 10:33am
You called out "Anonymous" by name! Great TR - bummed I couldn't make these with you. I'm gonna get out a few more times this season (with my board) but some of the peaks you've already skied. I'll keep you in the loop all the same.

Great report!
7/2/2019 3:37pm
Scouting my next line off of your report. Thank you so much! Oh and great job! Looks like fun skiing. I met anonymous on Savage peak today ðŸ˰

7/4/2019 4:06pm
Ryan - We spent some time discussing the tree, as well as all the damage!

Brad - Anonymous and I had quite the spirited discussion about 13,300 A. Since I ran that entire ridge, I knew where the real summit is.

Grahampa - Glad this report will help! Heard the snow on Savage was a bit sloppy.

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