Peak(s):  Mt. Elbert  -  14,433 feet
Date Posted:  04/20/2010
Date Climbed:   04/18/2010
Author:  cheeseburglar
 Ski Jouring on Mt. Elbert   

Route: Mt. Elbert South Slopes
Participants: Colin (trip photographer), Craig and Kia (ski jouring team)
Time: 8.5 hours round trip
Vertical: ~4,500 vertical
Distance: Don't know, we went pretty far off route

Sports, including mountaineering, are extremely competative these days. There seems to be hordes of freaks who are stronger, faster, and smarter than I am. It seems like every route that isn't suicidal and/or a 46 hour death march has been done.
So how to push the limits of mountaineering to new heights? Ultrarunning mountains, alpine climbing, climbing in winter, biking to trailheads, running to summits straight from the bar... There are macho men and women who beat me badly at all these activities.
How to stand out and do something that hasn't been done? It came to me in a moment of clarity while jogging with my fiancee's overweight dog...

Combine two obscure and ridiculous sports into one...
Ski jouring and mountaineering. Skijourmountaineering. It's got a great ring to it. Now, I'd messed around with ski jouring a bit. For us, it involves being pulled on skis by the dog. The term is also used to refer to being pulled on skis by horses if you are in Steamboat or Leadville. But I don't have access to a horse.
Picture skate skis, the skis that those athletes in the Olympics who carry the guns and ski between shooting ranges use. Little skinny things that are real fast. And made for mostly flat, groomed trails.
Now picture Kia, a Siberian Husky/Chocolate Lab mix. She is 65 pounds of calorie storage, fur, tongue, and bad attitude. With a few muscles under there somewhere.

I've come up with some bad plans in my time. This one might take the cake. My plan was to pick a nice easy 14,000 foot mountain in Colorado and hit it during spring ski season. When you have a dream (also known as a bad idea, depending on how it turns out) you have to chase it. Sometimes you have to try more than once. Our first attempt, on Sherman during the spring gathering, failed. We'll blame that failure on bad snow conditions. Long story.
Our second attempt was on Mt. Elbert, Colorado's highest mountain.
Here is how it unfolded.
At 8am we started from the South Elbert Trailhead paved parking area and headed up the road. Still a little snow, but we probably could have driven another 1.5 miles with a crazy driver and high clearance 4x4.

Ski jouring is not conducive to all terrain, so I walked up the road. Can't ski jour if there isn't snow. I also walked through the trees and along the trail. Certain conditions are too technical to ski jour.

I harnessed up Kia at about 11,000 feet and she pulled! Went pretty quick for about 15 minutes.

Then it was break time.

She managed to completely wrap herself up in the cords and bungees that comprise the lead. We didn't do near as much training as we should have. While I unknotted the lead, she took off after Colin, who was hell bent on skiing his first 14er. I caught the crazy dog after another 1,000 vertical feet or so and got her to pull me for about another 15 minutes.


Below the summit pitch, after much flailing around I got the dog to triumphantly pull up the summit ridge! Success was ours! We managed to ski jour the highest mountain in Colorado. This may be the first time a 14,000 foot peak has been ski joured. It's certainly the first time anyone admitted to it publicly. We summitted about 1pm.

Summit photo and others are blurred due to a possible pending sponsorship deal (or cheap camera, low batteries, and/or camera operator error). Any potential sponsors, contact me! I'm waiting! There is no way I'm ever doing this again unless someone ponies up some cash, bling, and cool new gear.

I considered skiing down, for about 5 seconds. Skiing down on little skinny skis without metal edges and on boots with no ankle support is just dumb. I tried a bit but gave up quickly. Mostly I walked the windblown ridges and windpacked drifts. About 12k or so, it started to get soft. I was postholing too much to walk so I put the skis on. I managed one jump turn, two stem christies, and a little bit of snow plowing. Everything else I did either involved sitting in the snow or did not resemble skiing at all. Eventually I got to the standard trail, which is so consolidated from a winter of ascents that it can be walked on, even on a warm spring afternoon.
We got back to the cars about 4:30, making for a nice workout.

Comments or Questions

04/21/2010 05:31
Those pictures are too funny


Very funny
04/21/2010 13:37


Fast time!
04/21/2010 14:14
Oh wait, you were able to drive part of the road. Well, still, pretty fast when you have take time out to revive the dog.

Now that you have the first ever 14er skijour under your belt, and probably the highest altitude skijour, the next step is to get FAT skis under your boots, and get Kia‘s littermates out there to help mush.

Eventually, if no sposorship comes, you can start a guide service. Well I guess it would be a guide-dog service.

Congrats to Kia for being an amiable sport.

Loved the TR!

new england kid

guinness will come calling
04/21/2010 14:28
Certainly this is a world record. For what, I am not exactly sure.

Of course, I love the cape. It is the source of all your powers!


dead dog
04/21/2010 17:59

this is how dead dog couloir got it‘s name


Good stuff.
04/22/2010 03:55
Love the pic of Kia playing dead. But you better rethink your attachment point to the horse.


04/22/2010 04:40
Thought some people might find my ridiculous idea funny.
I‘m plum out of stupid ideas for now, except my new route on Capital that involves 2,500 feet of static rope.
I got in a lot of trouble for this report, because it turns out the dogs name is Kya, not Kia. Apparently the dog is not named after an economy car.


Good day on Elbert with Kya
04/23/2010 02:50
Sorry I botched the summit triumph pictures. Thats a hell of a skijouring dog.


Am I allowed?
04/26/2010 02:26
I am allowed to vote twice and do two comments?

This TR is top dog.

#1 most hilarious entertaining TR of the season.

Can you give us a preview of the encore, please?


dog team
04/26/2010 14:09
sweet, perhaps you need a skijouring team.


I missed this until now
11/30/2010 17:28
Congrats to Kya. If you ever need a loaner, I have another K9 puller at home. Can you get her on the plane to Bolivia? Good to see Colin's photography skills have seemed to improve over the years.


PETA sponsorship?
01/19/2011 03:38


01/26/2011 16:54
That's the funniest $h!t I've read since your Rito Alto report and your proposed inclusion to Steph's Apostle's Traverse report. ”Wait, those last 3 pictures are all blurry... ah who gives a $c@t... I'll post them anyway”.

Ridge runner

02/01/2011 00:24
It‘s good to see you haven‘t lost your insanity. Where‘s Kia‘s buddy? Any crazy plans this summer? I‘m still working on our lightning protection system from two summers ago. I think this is the year.


Hey, a new sport!
02/05/2011 00:22
Can‘t wait for this to be included in the Winter Olympics!


I like it,
05/02/2011 14:23
but I‘m really looking forward to the trip report where you find access to a horse.

   Not registered? Click Here

Caution: The information contained in this report may not be accurate and should not be the only resource used in preparation for your climb. Failure to have the necessary experience, physical conditioning, supplies or equipment can result in injury or death. and the author(s) of this report provide no warranties, either express or implied, that the information provided is accurate or reliable. By using the information provided, you agree to indemnify and hold harmless and the report author(s) with respect to any claims and demands against them, including any attorney fees and expenses. Please read the Safety and Disclaimer pages for more information.

© 2021®, 14ers Inc.