2009 Spring Blog (23 ski days in May/June/July; last day: July 2)

July 2: Hawaii Couloirs on Pacific Peak, with Elke. We skied the "I" couloir. Climbed, as usual, by the farthest east one. Just booted up. Elke used crampons. A lot of work, but the skiing was pretty high quality. That's 23 days for the May/June(/July) season -- last year I got 24 -- but this ends the 2009 season.
June 28: Mt. Bross, S Gully, with Chet Roe. 2 hrs up, 1 hr down. Used crampons. Got to within 100 vertical of summit on snow, and then skied down in good conditions. West-facing.
June 23: North Face of Democrat with Elke. One of the best lines anywhere. Two hours to the summit, and we did not not really press, so the season of carrying the gear up and up has paid off. Then down the standard N Face line in good conditions, traversing near the bottom so as to efficiently gain the area of the climb back up to the 13000-foot Cameron-Democrat saddle. That took about an hour, and then came the quick drop to the car, more than half of which was skiing. Five hours round-trip.; about 3000 feet of climbing and maybe 2500 of skiing. The season is winding down now, but this area still has lots of snow so those who want to can still ski into the summer.

June 18: Monica's Descent on Clinton (13800) with Elke Dratch. A beautiful descent in perfect corn on a steep, untracked, clean, white slope. It got a little mushy at the bottom, and the climb was quite mushy. But the upper half of the descent was perfect. Nice way to hit day#20 of the May/June season. This is the 11th day surpassing 13000 feet. Go high and higher to get the goods!
June 16: Fourth of July bowl on Peak 10. Excellent corn descent. Could drive very high. I used sneakers all the way to the summit.
June 14: Arkansas N Face with Jonathan Kriegel and Todd Beck. Home by 10:30. Bit icy at the top but that is because we skied the farthest east line on the face. Would have been better in center. Skied almost down to car. Ski day number 18 of the May-June season. Looks like 20 is within reach; the season so far has been much better than anticipated, probably due to the cold June weather.
June 12: Finally some decent weather. Elke Dratch, Chet Roe, Ellen Hollinshead, and I skied the north faces of Bartlett and then Little Bartlett near Clinton Reservoir. Super day in all aspects. Route was on my wish list; climb was fun; descent was steep (45 degrees but powdery from recent snow so great fun to ski); great weather; interesting views, and a new two summits for me.
June 7: Jonathan and I cramponed up Grizzly from the A-Basin lot. starting at 7 am. Absolutely perfect cramponing conditions. Firm but skiable on the way down. Someday I'll start this one at noon and have good corn up there. If any runners read this I can report that both trails up Ptarmigan (jeep road, and standard trail) are snow free up to wilderness sign, so loop run is possible). The days after this one have been very cloudy in the morning. Really one wants clear nights and nice sunny mornings. But maybe the snow will hold up longer because of the coolness.

June 4: Jonathan, Elke, and I wanted to do Jews for Jesus in Monte Cristo, but there had been avalanches on just about every slope in the valley near rocks. So we continued up-valley to a nice face just west of West Fletcher, booted up it (postholing), and skied down, and then around to the standard descent route off of Fletcher that takes one back to the reservoir.
May 31: Grand Traverse Peak 13041, carried skis to the very summit. Weather was okay despite clouds all around. 9 hrs round-trip. With: Jonathan Kriegel, Katie Jones, Dave Bombard. 5000' climb. Lots of snow in the woods so travel was pretty good. Very nice isolated teeny summit with good exposure in all directions.
May 28: Argentine summit (13743 feet) from Naylor Lake Trailhead (could have driven a mile up the dirt road, but didn't think of it). With Maggie Gaddis and Elke Dratch. 3.5 hours to top. We skied a steep couloir on the E Face of Argentine in perfect conditions: powder near top, corn at bottom. 1100 feet of excellent skiing, then a 200-foot climb back to the valley we started in. Perfect weather. We raced the clock on return because of the 1:00 road closure on the Guanella Pass Road, but we made it.
May 25: Hagar summit with Katie Jones and Dave and Andie Bombard. 3 hrs to top, via the saddle on left. Step kicking was fine. Skied the face, which was good. Slope measured at 36 degrees. There was some new snow. One felt the slush underneath, but it still skied quite well. Could cruise down on skis to within a mile of the car. Weather generally poor, but good enough. Quite different from 11000 to 13000.
May 24: Solo to top of Loveland Ski Area. Weather at top at 10:00: dark clouds moving in. Weather at W end of tunnel 20 minutes later: hard rain (but did not see rain on E side of tunnel). Snow: There was new wet snow atop the old snow, but no new snow on rocks or grass. Ski conditions: Slushy, but okay skiing. Not very cold up there.

May 20: Up at 4:30 am for a trip to Buckskin (13865) with Maggie Gaddis. The road was open almost to Kite Lake and conditions on descent were superb. Little crispy at the top, and then perfect corn as the aspect changed from N to NE. Valley descent back to car was on very icy snow, perfect for the valley. We started up at 6:40 and summited at about 9:10. Maggie used crampons near the top. I used only the axe which I had.
May 19:  Took my light Markas and mini-skins to Vail Pass for a 90-minute loop. Had to walk down to the freeway to cross the creek. That season is definitely over. All I did was get lots of dirt on my skis. Still, fun to ski with light boots.
May 17: To Squaretop with Bob, Jonathan, Janet, and Dave. But the road was closed at the Naylor Lake TH, so we had to improvise by skiing up the exit route. We ascended the ridge at Silver Dollar Lake and found perfect corn in a 1000-foot gully coming back down to Naylor Lake. Nice to have good snow at last, though we did not get to our primary objective at the head of the valley.
May 15: To Arkansas Headwaters with Jonathan and Chet. Climbed to near a little summit of Sleeping Indian Ridge, but it was very mushy. We skied down quickly, and the slope skied pretty well considering our concern. 2200' climb total. Car to car.
May 12: To Arkansas Headwaters with Maggie Gaddis. Stormy and white-out for 2 hours, but we kept going and the weather lifted. We did not do anything steep, but we made a nice loop, got some turns in, and got lots of ideas for future. Horrible skin gloppage because of new snow.

May 10: Solo on S slopes of Buffalo to base of Lakeview. Very dirty woods. Lakeview looked good though.
May 9: Crust cruising on skate skis with Janet and Dave in the Arkansas headwaters valley, below Democrat. What a great valley as one can skate, light-tour, or bring heavy gear and find worthy slopes. We climbed 1700 feet to 12800, very high for skating uphill! Coverage was excellent.
May 8: North side of Atlantic Peak. It was still very wintry at the high elevations. Car-to-car skiing.
May 7: Crust cruising on skate skis at Corral Creek; saw illegal snowmobile tracks. Conditions good, but not excellent.
May 6: Light gear tour with Janet at Vail Pass. Lots of snow.

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