2013 Spring Blog (18 ski days in May-June; last day: June 6)

And now moving on to climbing. On June 25, Katie, Elke, and I did a long day with a technical (5.6 or 5.7) ascent of Thor Tower on the east ridge of Valhalla. There are not many peaks or towers in the area where the easiest way up is this hard.

A fine season, with exciting high-quality new lines for me including: North Face Jacque, SE side North Mt Massive, a line above W side of the Eisenhower Tunnel, a short steep line on the N side of Mayflower Hill, a ski down from the summit of Fletcher, and a steep face on the E side of Argentine.

6/6 With Elke to top of Buckskin and down the N Face in perfect corn. The road was open almost to Kite Lake. We could ski car to car. The route is moderate, but the snow conditions were spectacularly good. That’s it for a while as I leave for a 10-day trip to Newfoundland.

6/5 No skiing, but I went to the summit of Wilcox (13400) to photograph the E side of Argentine and N side of Squaretop. A very nice ascent of about 2500 feet in six miles roundtrip.

6/3 Memorable day with Katie and Starr to the summit of North Mt Massive (14340 feet) from the North Half Moon side. The final alpine valley was snowy and beautiful, and we descended an elegant line that I had spotted on a summer hike a year earlier. Snow conditions were excellent. Katie skied right from the summit. About 4000 ft. climb.

6/1 with Katie and Chet to top of Argentine from the east. Then Katie skied a very steep and narrow line from just north of the summit, while Chet and I did a broader face a little farther north than that, merging with Katie’s route. A long day. About 3600 feet climb. My photo of Starr from 5/28 (shown above at lower right) made the cover of today’s Summit Daily News.

5/30  With Elke, Katie, and Kirsten to the top of Mayflower Hill, the hill forming the N boundary of Mayflower Gulch, then down a short steep chute, avoiding many cornices, from just E of the summit, and down and around the forest to get back to the car. Stormy day, but weather improved. Windy.

5/28  With Elke and Starr Jamison to the top of Fletcher (13951). Skied down the face sort of; the rock band had to be avoided. Then a bonus lap up West Fletcher (perfect corn), followed by more perfect corn in the beautiful valley adjacent to Quandary. Road was open to within a mile of the dam (parked at 11330 feet). About 3000 feet of climb total. Ski crampons were essential on ascent. I had never been on the true summit with skis, so was quite pleased to get it.

5/27 Peak 8 solo from the Green Gate. I should have started at the Peaks Trailhead. Excellent conditions at the top. 3000 feet climb.

5/26 With Katie and Kihm to Coon Hill, ski down E side, then climb to S of Golden Bear, over to top of Loveland Ski Area, and down a tremendous N-facing run back to the tunnel in perfect corn, about 1700 feet.

5/23  Elke and I did a full circumnavigation of Arkansas via AT col (AT = Arkansas-Tweto). Skied from Climax Corner around the W side of Arkansas to the col, then down the steep face which had a very cool entrance around a cornice. Then the direct N way out, sidestepping up to the “Skater’s Saddle” at 12800. 5 hours total. Only 7.4 miles total. Probably 2900 feet of climb. We took a nice direct route to the col this time, thanks to the recon of 4 days ago.

5/22  Rich Seeley (on rented AT gear) and I skied up Dry Creek to the summit of Golden Bear. Could drive to the gate. Excellent conditions on the high parts of the descent. 2500 feet climb.

5/19  Solo tour to the 13250-foot Arkansas-Tweto Col (AT col?) via the W side of Arkansas, something I’ve wanted to do for some time. The weather was poor but skiing was fine and the terrain quite nice. 3200 feet climb as there was some up and down en route to avoid a KEEP OUT sign high on Arkansas. This col allows a nice view down to the northeast to the bump of the previous day.

5/18  Skated the Arkansas Headwaters with Dave. 1900 ft climb; round trip 2.5 hours. Excellent conditions. Got to bump at 12910, and then descended 5 miles to car with no stop. We think this is the highest skating route in the country.

5/16  A nice double on Jacque Peak (13205) with Katie and Kihm B. The climb up Copper was easy and we first did the SE face in poor conditions (slushy a bit). Then climb again to the top and ski a couloir that leaves the W ridge not far west of the summit. Then climb out of the basin to finish the day on Copper ski runs. About a 4800-foot day. Great weather.

5/13  Skied to the Tuk/Tuk-No Basin with Elke. It was too slushy to try one of the big lines, but we had perfect corn for part of the descent from 11400 in the basin. It was 91 degrees in Moab this day. About 2500 feet.

5/11  Skied solo to top of PreLaurel in the Lasals, between Tuk and Mellenthin. Skliing started at the car, at the usual winter parking lot. Excellent corn on descent of, roughly, SW Face. About 2800 feet total climb. Some very short walking stretches. Plus I booted up the steepest 1000 feet of the ascent, in the west couloir.

5/8  Crust cruising with Katie on skate skis in Arkansas headwaters. 1600 climb, to 12600. Powder conditions!

5/6  Crust cruising with Dave and Janet on skate skis in Corral Creek. 1000 feet.

5/4  Skinned up peak between Bethel and Snoopy (call it Woodstock for Snoopy’s bird friend?). 2000 feet. Difficult descent as snow was mushy above 12000.

5/1 Skinned up Keystone. Powder. 2300 feet.

4/21-26. Skiing at Oasis Lake, Selkirks, British Columbia. Link to photos and story.

4/13. A nice big gear day to the top of Homestake Peak (13209 ft). Very wintery and excellent snow cover meant that we (Elke, Robin, me) could ski right to the summit. WInds gusted somewhat high, but not a huge problem. A snowcat or other big machine ruined the first mile. It is was ok for ascent (Slide Lake Road), but we descended the usual hut route, thus avoiding that nasty section.

March was great with three good nordic races: 40 km at Snow Mountain Stampede, 100 km at Glide the Divide, and 50 km at Rabbit Ears Coureur des Bois. I got first in 60+ age group at the last two. But now it is time to move on to the mountains. Big British Columbia trip starts soon.

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