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Time and Vertical – 5:30hrs, approximately 3000 vertical
Rob, John and myself had given this exact route a shot about 3 weeks ago, but quickly deteriorating weather, suspect snowpack and the fact that we weren't climbing the right mountain forced us to retreat. It was still a decent day in the mountains, but we definitely wanted to get back there this season.
Fast forward to last Saturday, it just so happened we all could coordinate another shot at it, with Rob's friend Jay (post14erPBR+flipflops) rounding out the group at 4. We met up at the trailhead off exit.218 between Bakerville and Loveland Pass around 5am (actually more like 5:15am, I was a little late, made the mistake of engaging in a conversation with the guy at 7-11 working the graveyard shift).
We skinned up to the trail junction, veered left and made way to Herman Gulch.
Rob and Herman Gulch
The cloud coverage wasn't too thick, made for some great photo ops throughout the morning.
Looking South from further up the gulch
Upon entering the basin where Pettingal and Citadel were clearly visible, we noticed where we had turned around last go around and upon further review, realized we were about to climb the wrong mountain. The obvious chute in the right foreground of this shot shows where we were headed last time, just goes to show what vertigo and a white out can do.
Skinning into the gulch, good weather at the moment
And then an even better shot of our objective for the day as we got further and further into the gulch.
The Citadel, a fortress
There was definitely some signs of recent wet slide activity in the region, on multiple aspects throughout Herman Gulch.
soem recent wet slides
We saw Snoopy's Chute from afar and just skinned toward it in a straight line, passing off trail breaking duties here and there. The views at this point of the day, were phenomenal.
what a view
Around 1/5 of the way up Snoopy's, we regrouped and dug away. There was about 4-5 inches of new, looser snow, with about 3-4 feet of rock solid consolidated layers underneath. I've never seen the snow so stable. Unfortunately, this would mean it would be a dust on crust descent, but more on that later.
booting up the chute
Jay about to top out
We all did our part in bootpacking up the relatively mellow chute. I'd say it was 38-40 degrees at its very steepest. The fun started at the saddle connecting West and East Citadel. We opted for the SW summit, mainly because the line off was continuous from the top and it was nearly impossible to tell if there was any difference in height. A pitch or two of fun scrambling ensued, definitely the highlight of the climb.
me and Jay climbing
Rob summiting, John making headway
There aren't really any clear shots of us on the summit, the wind kind of picked up and there wasn't 100% visibility. It was a pretty cool summit, enough room for the 4 of us, that's about it, with a steep drop off to the SE and I was pleased to see a route with good coverage straight off the small summit into the chute. After some food and hydration, we all clicked in and began our way to the saddle.
looking down at the entrance to the saddle from the summit
John skiing into the saddle
We arrived to the entrance to the saddle and all enjoyed a 7 or 8 foot jump into the pillow soft landing on the top of the couloir. One of the better intros to a line.
"the entrance fee"
I was the first to drop in to the chute. Turn 1,2 and 3 were incredible, turn 4 got me a bit off guard and I then proceded to yard sale, head over heels. I quickly gained composure, realized I had only one ski still on, looked around and eventually found my other ski, motioned up to the guys at the saddle still and took cover at the safe zone. The snow was definitely variable, it needed more than a couple inches to cover up all the crap underneath. After navigating our way through and around some hardened wet slide debris, we finally made it to the apron and valley floor in one piece. We all lost our balance at one point or another, but it was a good ski nonetheless. Some shots….
the ginnie pig
The ski out was pretty uneventful. We were able to maintain some sort of momentum all the way to treeline with some poling a little here and there. The snow coverage below treeline was too thin to keep the planks on, so we booted the last 5-10 minutes to the cars, with some Avery IPA and PBR's waiting for us in the snow. Ice Axes were used as bottle openers.
Snoopy's is definitely a fun line with very easy access year round. The Citadel/Pettingel cirque definitely is an underrated region as well. Good, quick day with some solid company, looks like this spring season is shaping up pretty nicely.
Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):
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