Backcountry Skiing in Colorado

Skiing and Hiking in the Colorado Backcountry


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Cross Couloir, Mt. Of the Holy Cross (14,005′)

 

Mt. of the Holy Cross smiles, as if to say "you're welcome."

Mt. of the Holy Cross smiles, as if to say “you’re welcome.”

We all have those goals in life that just seem like they’re never going to materialize.  We try and try, yet something always finds a way to thwart our best laid plans.  Then, one day, the clouds part and you see your goal in front of you in all its glory.  For the first time it appears totally attainable and that attainment unfolds almost effortlessly.  For me, this scenario describes my relationship with Mt. of the Holy Cross to a T.

For 5 years I’ve wanted to ski this mountain but it never quite worked out.  No partner…road closed…bad snow year…. and then last year I finally made it to the base of the elusive couloir… only to be shut down in the worst way.

But this year would be different, very different.

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Harvard-Columbia Traverse

After an unsuccessful bid on Capitol Peak I’ve been chomping at the bit to get back into the high country and take down some mountains. I called my trusty partner David Gardner and he was up for an attempt on the long Harvard-Columbia Traverse.

Dave treks in the shadows as the sun overtakes Mt. Harvard (14,420′)

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High on Huron (14,003′) and Speedy Too!

Huron Shines in the Morning Sun

July 1st, 4:30am I was out of bed and in the car heading towards Chaffee county Rd 390.  I’ve taken this trip several times before since 390 feeds would-be climbers into the popular Missouri Gulch.  From here hikers can bag three 14ers, Belford, Oxford and of course Missouri.  It had been almost a year to the day that Jon Jay and I skied Missouri but this time I had a different objective, Huron Peak. Continue reading


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Running up Antero (14,336′)

The Ridge, Final push to Antero’s Summit

Dave Gardner and I decided that June 16th would be a good day to knock off Mt. Antero (14,336′), another of the official 15 Sawatch 14ers.  We decided to take Dave’s Jeep so we could drive up a good portion of the road and make the 15 mile trek into a more manageable 7 miles.  Dave’s Jeep climbed like a champ and before long we were at about 11,000 ft crossing the creek.  We decided we’d stop here and start hiking in order to get a 3,000 ft vertical ascent in, which some consider to be a condition of a true 14er summit. Continue reading


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La Plata, Eric’s First 14er

La Plata… ain’t she a beaut?

It was another 1am departure as Eric Internicola and I left Denver to try and tackle La Plata Peak (14, 336′) on June 3rd.  This would mark my 32nd straight month skiing and for Eric, this would be his first attempt at both a 14er climb, let alone a ski descent.  Needless to say he was pretty pumped, but I could tell Eric was concerned about his fitness.  Eric would be the first to tell you he was moving slowly on our attempt at Notch Top which turned into a descent on Dragontail.  Although I think it was more the weather than Eric’s pace that led to a plan B descent, I know Eric did not want to keep us from summiting La Plata, and I was sure he was up for the challenge. Continue reading


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Mt. Elbert (14,433′), The Top of Colorado!

On May 28th Jon Jay and I set out for an early morning assault toward a thin Box Creek Cirque on Mt. Elbert.  I climbed Mt. Massive over 5 years ago and have wanted to get after Elbert for a while now.  However, I figured if I was going to climb it, I’d rather get a good ski in as well.  I’d just been waiting for the right time and Jon was down for the trip… it was on! Continue reading


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Scary ride on Mt. Yale – 5/17/2010

I feel pretty lucky to be sitting here typing this trip report today.  Yesterday, Jon Jay and I had a pretty scary experience on our tour of Mt. Yale.

Yale is a haul at 14,196 it begs an early start.   I left Denver at 3am to meet up with Jon at the Silver Creek trailhead outside of Buena Vista.  Jon had done some touring the day before and camped out that night with a few others while I opted to sleep in my warm bed and meet him in the morning.

We set off for the 10 mile round trip a little after 7am.  Our start was a little later than planned, but we weren’t too worried since the Silver Creek bowl on Mt. Yale faces north, and we figured the snow would remain cool most of the day.   The plan was to summit by noon, ski the bowl and be back to the trailhead by 3pm.  Needless to say, things did not go as planned. Continue reading