Peak(s):  Missouri Mountain  -  14,067 feet
Date Posted:  05/04/2011
Date Climbed:   05/03/2011
Author:  kenny
 "Show Me State" skiing   

Since the time of year really means nothing in terms of "ski season", we thought we should get some winter skiing experience in May. Driving up to the Leadville area it was evident that though summer is swiftly approaching, there is still a bounty of lines to be claimed in the hills.

See the HD video here:

Last year we completed a ski of Belford around mid May and there was significantly more snow on the lower trail this year. Leaving the TH at 7:15, we were able to skin on continuous snow after about 1/3 of a mile, the snow at the near the bottom was mostly frozen solid and softened to allow for better skinning with each switchback. After skinning all winter you forget how much harder simply walking up the trail is and, therefore we made quick time on the skis up to the creek crossing. There were about 3-4 patches of dry ground (which will probably be bigger now) that were about 2-5 feet in length after the switchbacks ended and before the crossing. From the crossing to past the old cabin was unremarkable but provided for good skinning again.
The weather couldn't have been better. Non-existent wind caught us off guard can you be in the mountains without wind?? Sunscreen re-applied we continued up the Missouri drainage. Temps were pretty warm but not warm enough for wet slides. Maybe a different story later this week...

Up to the west, a recent (likely within 1 week) large slab avalanche on approx. the same aspect as what we'd be skiing was duly noted and brought a bit of question to our goal of climbing/skiing one of the N couloirs. It apparently had failed on two different layers and the crown look to be 10-15' in height. Only one way to find out - keep going and evaluate when we get there.

Light/fluffy snow on the skin up the drainage seemed to represent something you'd find in winter. Thoughts of deep powder in the north couloirs started circulating as we kept looking at our goal the entire approach.
Instead of wrapping around to the left of the knoll before the couloir entrances, we decided to go straight up the knoll. This proved to take more energy than anticipated with the wind crust that lay 4" down that made getting an edge while skinning a difficult task.
Up at the bottom of the Main Couloir we dug a pit and found a 4" layer, that was consolidated but still slightly soft, which released upon isolation. Initially this wasn't a good sign. Further down there weren't as many distinct layers as anticipated and for the most part everything was bonded pretty well. So that was good. The decision was made to continue on and evaluate the snow with each step of effort on the way up the couloir.
It seemed that the 4" layer we found at the bottom only existed in isolated spots and was more prevalent near the bottom apron. In upper locations near the fork in the couloir I found a 1" wind deposited layer on top of some real nice 6" of fluff. Pushing onward and upward in the upper half, our optimism grew even more as the layers disappeared and were replaced with a little something known as powder. "It'll ski alright"
Apparently my aerobic fitness acquired from lots of backcountry tours this winter had evidently waned during the month of April, so needless to say, being the first 14er of the year, the ascent of the couloir was slow going.
Upon topping out I was surprised to find a relatively interesting summit and surrounding ridges (compared to other Sawatch). And as always the view did not disappoint...especially of the Three Apostles.
The wind was still low and no more than 5-10 mph at times on the summit. Time for the fun........
Full summit descent here we come. I went first and found a few turns necessary to figure out what was going on and remember how to ski again.

The GoPro footage was a little overexposed so a little processing was necessary.


And was ...nice. Especially because the layers we found were skiing fairly stable.

A long day but very much worth it. The descent took about a 1/3 of the ascent time. Skiing down always makes for a better day.

9 miles :: 4,500 ft Vert :: Somewhere around 7.5 hrs

Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):

 Comments or Questions

Fun Day
05/05/2011 00:59
Nice write-up and video Kenny


Looks like fun
05/05/2011 01:35
I may actually take my ski's with me this weekend after all. Thanks for the write-up.


05/05/2011 02:42
Sweet skiing, Kenny. You look pretty familiar... have we met?


03/04/2012 18:31
Looked like good snow and a good day for sure, thanks for the conditions update. That's a big slide up there too


05/05/2011 04:16
Best trip report ever - good data. Also, sweet turns


Thanks for Posting
05/05/2011 13:22
Those shots of Missouri's east ridge are just the beta I've been looking for.


Good Looking!
05/05/2011 15:04
That looked like fun! Great snow, great turns = great day at 14000 feet!

Matt Lemke

Hey thanks!
05/06/2011 00:55
We followed your ski tracks all the way up into the upper valley below Belford and Missouri today. We went up Belford today with great views and perfect weather. Well done guys

Edit: We saw that exact same slab avalanche today you have pictured in photo 5


Pole Straps!
05/23/2012 03:34
just watchin this now because I'm planning to ski it, it's a good write up! nice pics and nice vides!

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