Peak(s):  Mt. Yale  -  14,196 feet
Date Posted:  04/24/2006
Modified:  12/03/2009
Date Climbed:   04/23/2006
Author:  doumall
 Yale - Summit Ski Descent   

The alarm was set for 4 am, Debbie and I rose at 4:30 am and after large quantities of oatmeal were on the road from Boulder by 5:30. A familiar drive along 285 had us to Buena Vista and then the trailhead by 8:00 am. We prepared and started up the trail at 8:20. We experienced strange sections of the trail which had very warm air pockets for ten paces or so, then cold. It was like walking over a volcano. The temps had been very warm the past two nights and a quick check of the snowpack showed moist poorly bonded snow below 2 inches of frozen crust. We were going to have to avoid any avalanche terrain with similar snow.

There were only brief snow drifts on the trail until the junction with the Yale SW slopes route trail. Here the trail was almost completely snow covered until tree line. Climbing steeply up through the woods in the mostly isothermal snow was a real b***. We persevered and reached tree line. From here to the NW ridge, the sparse but continuous snow was more consolidated and made for quick climbing.

The 2+ ridge walk proper to the top was enjoyable, and I was extremely happy to see a summit ski descent was possible by utilizing upper Silver Creek Bowl, then traversing to the northwest to finish on the southwest slopes. Debbie's 35th 14er! Cloud cover during the morning kept the snow from getting too soft above 12k. Our good half hour on the summit gave the west slopes enough time to become perfect corn. After a few steep turns down marginal snow of the Silver creek bowl, I traversed over to meet Debbie in the low point of the ridge above the southwest slopes. Some very enjoyable corn turns were had down the west slope. I finished my ski from the summit at around 12000' (first time I removed my skis). Debbie and I made our way down a mostly melted large avalanche path to avoid the isothermal wood nightmare. A very good (but long 9.5 hr) day.

Our camera broke right before the TH, but here are some pics from the previous day (4-22-06) from another hiker's trip (thanks Sarah T).



Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):

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