Peak(s):  Red Pk B  -  13,189 feet
Date Posted:  05/02/2011
Modified:  05/04/2011
Date Climbed:   05/01/2011
Author:  lordhelmut
 Southeast Face Ski   

The Gores (Red from Eccles Pass)

Peak - Red Pk (13,189ft) of the Gore Range
Group - Myself, Ben (Benners), Matt (Pioletski) and his girlfriend Gerlinda
Food Rations - Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough, Salt N. Vinegar Pringles, Junior Mints and Benner's signature brick of cheese
Route - Ski descent of the Southeast Face from the Buffalo TH

The Gores Range is a real treat in the summer and upon a little imagination, an equally as rewarding treat in the winter. Ben and I have been slowly scratching the surface of the aesthetic lines of the Eastern Gores this Spring, and upon his completion of the 14ers Ski Project, we'll dig a whole lot deeper soon enough.

Our line on Red (from Buffalo)

Alarm went off at 4am, Ben picked me up and we were on our way to the Buffalo Mtn trailhead just before 6. We met Matt and his girlfriend, Gerlinda, who just returned from a spectacular trip in the Himalayas (literally just returned, Matt picked her up from DIA on Saturday). The skin up the trail was all too familiar and we were all greeted with a winter-like atmosphere.

still winter in Colorado

Me, Gerlinda and Matt

We traversed around Buffalo to the base of the Silver with a good 10-12" of fresh snow all around us. I made a feeble attempt to find the 4 peanut butter malted milk balls I dropped on our climb of the Silver back on April 9th, but to no avail. We did happen to notice this furry little foreigner waddling around....

Ptarmigan hiding in the open

From the base of the Silver, it seems like the best way to travel further up the valley is to stay higher in the trees and hug the southern edge, instead of doing what I suggested and drop down. The skinning will be easier that way. After a few switchbacks through the trees, we popped out in an open meadow.

skinning through the trees

I noticed we were on the edge of a cliff, rather sheer and large cliff, with the creek below, the one we were supposed to be on the right side. We decided to stay high and on the left side, with the hopes we'd eventually be able to casually cross the well snow covered creek (we were spot on with this logic). This involved a little bit of map and compass consultation throughout.

Matt reading the map

more mapwork

We finally reached a clearing and were offered a nice view of our objective, at least 75% of it. The weather was pretty prime for a ski descent on this day. Minimal winds, temps in the 20-30 range, cloud cover to keep the snow in perfect dry fluff and more snow on the way.

lookin at the route ahead

Gerlinda and Matt makin headway

Ben with Dillon Valley in the back

The views of Buffalo from this angle were pretty dramatic. For being a mere, lonely 12er in the southern realm of the Gore Range, this peak has a lot to offer from a ski mountaineering perspective, not to mention its view from the top.

a stratovolcano? Na, just Buffalo Mountain

Aside from a little dilly dallying, and conversations about Gerlinda's recent Himalayan adventure, among many other things, the day was proving a little longer than expected. Despite being a 9-10 mile, 4000 foot day, these turns were certainly going to be earned. To speed things along, Matt slugged a few stem cell cocktails and trucked up the hill, leading us 20 year olds up the mountain. Its truly a sight to see, and an inspiring one as well.

Matt charging along, leading as usual

Around a rock on the slopes below Red's summit at 12,600 feet, we decided to take a quick break. Matt decided to turn around with Gerlinda and call it a day, given that she just hopped off on airplane not 12 hours earlier from a multi-week trip. We said our goodbyes and pushed on.

Parting ways with Matt

Our motivation at this point was a tad strange. We wanted to reach the summit, but we had no clue how much further it actually was, given it was a near white out at this point. The lack of wind and a delirious quoting of Braveheart had us moving onward. Ben was doing his best impression of a Scottish accent, myself blurting out sadistic King Longshanks quotes while tossing my poles up the hill and pushing up on my skis as flotation, my logic being as long as I kept tossing my poles 15-20 feet above me, I'd feel compelled to reach them.

nearly a white out

Ben took on the trailbreaking duties for the final 500 or so feet and we reached the much welcomed summit around 1230pm. For those who have never been graced with Red's summit, the North Face is really something else to see. Although intimidating at first, upon further observation and research, its home to a few of the more aesthetic lines in the state, possibly the single most aesthetic line in the lower 48 (What Big Eyes you Have).

As we were sitting there munchin on some cookie dough, the skies and the valley below cleared. Not wanting to waste potentially our only opportunity for some visibility on this descent, we geared up quickly and locked in.

gearing up

Ben with Red's ridgeline looming in the clouds

Like I mentioned earlier, there was a brand new layer of about 10-12" of powder. The folks at ABasin enjoyed this as well, along with thousands of others, as did the 8 or 9 parties that skied the Silver that very day. Matt got a taste of it from 12,600 feet, but Ben and I were able to enjoy 2500 feet of untouched, unbelievable low density powder from top to bottom, in May no less. I'd like to think it was mother nature's way of rewarding us.

Some shots of the ski (warning : too many powder shots while sitting in a cubicle can be hazardous to your health) -

off the top

Ben engulfed in pow

and some more

So many lines in this region

the powder continued in to the trees

dare I say it got even better

skiing down to valley below

Post climb meal consisted of the one and only Chimayo Grill in Dillon, for any Chipotle enthusiasts out there, this place gives it a serious run for its money, just a FYI. Once the head hit the pillow at 6pm, I didn't wake up till 6 the next morning, for a total of 12 hours of shut eye, much needed and appreciated for this 9 to 5er.

Ben's take on the day - Ben's TR

Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24

Comments or Questions

You glorious.......
05/03/2011 03:36

Now I'm really jealous!! What a fantastic looking day in the mountains.


Thanks Brian...
05/03/2011 16:10
... and Ben for another great day! Let's go back and ski the Eyes later this spring.

BTW, Gerlinde has a 14ers name, Telerina13.


05/03/2011 19:11
That peak has been on the short list for a while since you can eye that line everytime you drive down the tunnel. What are the RT stats on it?


05/03/2011 19:37
nice TR and pictures Brian! Looks nice a great trip with great powder


05/04/2011 00:56
....list of food rations.

05/04/2011 14:46
Great trip. ”Matt slugged a few stem cell cocktails.” Yeah, he can do that!

Looks like you found some just awesome powder, congrats on what is sure to be a memorable day.


thanks all
05/04/2011 14:55
Rick - glorious bastards we are indeed. Should be able to make up for it this coming weekend my friend.

Matt - thanks for the heads up on Gerlinde's handle (and correct spelling of her name). Good gettin out....

Schralp - According to Kalet's write up on summitpost, this is a 8-9 mile, 3900 vert day

Caroline - thanks, powder in May is a nice treat

DBaker - the food we bring is half the battle sometimes

OBD - Still trying to figure out how a 50 year old can smoke us up the mountain. Humbling and inspiring....

05/04/2011 17:49
We skied ”What Big Eyes You Have” the following day, crossed your tracks on the way up to the summit. Nice TR!!!!


05/05/2011 03:40
Right there in the backyard. Great timing on conditions. Very nice TR and turning as usual.

05/05/2011 16:41
Thank you all ! Despite the no summit day for me~I really enjoyed the creamy POW and the company of you guys. Note to self : jetlag does happen,fine at 4am, not so chipper at 10am. Happy trails!


A smorgasbord of entertainment ...
05/10/2011 20:46
Love the ”tossing of the poles” as being motivation to continue on the way up ... I'll definitely have to try that one the next time I'm lacking in ambition. And, always enjoy anyone who goes into detail on the munchies of the day. 8) Oh, especially, the short but fruitless attempt to find the long-lost peanut butter malted milk balls ... my land ... where's that drooling smiley face! Thanks for posting. Those conditions are truly stellar ... pull out the snorkel. Happy trails!

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