Skiing the 14ers

A journey skiing and exploring Colorado's highest peaks

Category: 14erskirecord (page 1 of 2)

My 14er Ski Project: A Personal Statement – June 16 – 2016

My 14er Ski Project: A Personal Statement – June 16 – 2016

It is finished.

The reality of this entire project really hit me yesterday, the season finally came to an end, but what a spectacular season it was!

For the last five months, I’ve been climbing  and skiing Colorado’s highest peaks.  I want to thank all my sponsors, friends, family, and ski parters for supporting me through this project. If I were to to it again, there are certainly things I could have done differently – different routes, different dates, different outcomes – but in the end I have given it my all.  I am grateful to have accomplished, experienced and pushed myself to the depths of what became one of the hardest personal projects yet.

It’s been a battle, and its been a journey that I will remember for the rest of my life.

It’s summer now and before completely signing off on this project, I’d like to clarify to my supporters what I did accomplish. This was a massive project and included climbing 57 peaks and 19 additional attempts and ski days so if you have any additional questions, let me know.

My story:

I am disappointed that after all the time and effort that I’m unable to claim a 14er ski record of skiing every peak top to bottom in one single season.  After all, that was my one of my stated goals. That being said, I did climb every peak, some peaks on multiple attempts and even multiple summits. I love the Colorado ski mountaineering community as much as all of you. And that means respecting the guidelines set by those that first accomplished these feats [established by skiing the 14ers]. That being said, here are many gray areas (e.g., what is summit ski descent, length of the ski off the summit, etc.) – These guidelines were basically first put into place by Lou Dawson, Chris Davenport, and Ted Mahon who I have met and the latter two and have even skied with. Ted Mahon said it best to me the other day: “If we loosen the standards then suddenly we won’t have only 15 or 20 people that have skied the 14ers, there will be like 100, and the accomplishment will become watered down and not as prestigious”.

What I learned in attempting to ski all the peaks in short time frame, is that I didn’t want conditions to ruin my fun this season. So for those that have concerns about skiing off the true summit, I skied from the highest point I could. And in 54 of the 57 peaks skied that was the summit. However, I cannot take credit for everything, and I want to respect some of my mentors and heroes in the ski-mountaineering world.  In the end the site “14erskirecord.com” is no longer about breaking a record, but in fact it was to “re-cord” the events of my project to see if I could climb and ski every peak in the same season. It was about providing additional resources to my fellow ski-mountainneers and to those that will undoubtedly follow this attempt and continue to push the sport.

I did indeed summit every single 14er peak to the very top.  Heck – that part was relatively straightforward – after all – I have over 1000 ascents of the Colorado 14ers by this time in my career, and in all conditions and seasons. (I think I am taking a break from the 14ers after this)! There are so many other mountains in the world to go and try out, and I can’t wait.

Let me clarify some examples:

  • I did not ski from the top of Wetterhorn. There’s certain peaks that don’t provide snow off the summit block. This is one of them. Nobody has ever skied from the top of Wetterhorn continuously to my knowledge.
  • This year I did not ski from the top 500′ of Capitol (with the exception of the summit ridge). I gave it my best shot which included two attempts in June – but I waited too long. The peak needs to be skied in April or early May. (I also went up there to K2 in April- but the peak didn’t feel right.)  But the fighter in me went back a couple of times because I was in denial: I knew I had missed my chance. Lesson learned. I also returned and skied the secret chute – but even then out of respect for the skiers before me to claim that peak in this same season wouldn’t be right.  In fact I chatted with several people (Ted Mahon and the Denver Post’s Jason Blevins) and they agree.
  • Summit of Pyramid.

    Summit of Pyramid.

  • Pyramid was another big challenge for me, as it has been for most 14er skiers. It took 5 attempts. I skied from the top of Pyramid- but had to down climb part of the middle section (75 or so feet of cliff bands on the East Face melted out by early June). I skied virtually every inch of the peak from different lines and aspects (Including the west/northwest face and ridge) the several times I went back there.  I never gave up.
Climbing up the final bands on Pyramid.

Climbing up the final bands on Pyramid.

  • South Maroon. I climbed Maroon Peak on two occasions. The first time I ascended/descended the Bell Chord but did not summit due to wet slide conditions. I returned the following week up the Y-Couloir and summited. I probably could have pieced together summit ski descent from a small section that would have technically met the 14er skiers guidelines. However, I skied the peak from the summit several years ago, so I won’t be returning to ski it from the top again this year.

* Other peaks that people will question in this project due to lack of snow or other reasons were Blanca and Little Bear.  While I have skied both of these peaks several years back- for this project when they were finally in  good condition in May, I was too busy skiing 12 peaks in succession in the San Juans and Elk Ranges so there was simply no time to get over to them again.

When I get some time I will be updating the trip reports pages. These will hopefully help tell more of the stories. Since I am not claiming any records these will be put up as soon as I am able. One thing is certain- I had a blast doing this! It was challenging and I learned a lot.

If you have been following my project – I appreciate it.  I am grateful for all of the support.  I gave it my best and still had a ton of fun in the process. I am thankful for all the people that stepped up to ski with me or provide support:  Roger Carter, Jared Kedrowski, Chris Tomer, Garrett Eggers, Ted Mahon, Chris Davenport, Eric Sangueza, Brad Burgtorf, Mackenzie Hoffman, Scott Benge, Torrey Udall, Tara Dactyl,  Anna Migl, John Fielder, Mike Craig, Ryan Belanger, Ashley Lucas, Grace Kelley, Mark Dud, Jay Ytell, Austin Porzak, Jordan White, Connor Drumm, Mike Lewis, Chris Jones, Cheryl and Bill Jensen, Bob Pietrack, Bob and Barb Kedrowski, Krista Kedrowski, Zack Wilson, and anyone else that I may have forgotten somehow. Also a shout out to the team at Enerplex (Danielle, Justin, Brad and Rafael) for really motivating me and cheering me on, 

Cheers

Dr. Jon

 

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Peaks #54 and #55 Longs and Snowmass – June 3 and 5, 2016.

Peaks #54 and #55 Longs and Snowmass – June 3 and 5, 2016.

Snowmass summit with Maroon Bells in the distance.

Snowmass summit with Maroon Bells in the distance.

Keeping the momentum rolling and taking advantage of early June with excellent coverage, I tackled Longs on Friday June 3, and Snowmass on Sunday June 5th with great company.

Dropping into the Homestretch on Longs (Scott Benge Photo)

Dropping into the Homestretch on Longs (Scott Benge Photo)

On Longs we skied Keplingers from the Homestretch right off the Summit, and then on Sunday, I climbed to the top with a fun team, utilizing a camp below Snowmass Lake in the basin near the log Jam. We climbed the famous Snowmass and enjoyed a classic line off the tip top and down to the lake for a spectacular tour of the Elk Range.

Heading to Keplingers on Longs.

Heading to Keplingers on Longs.

On Wednesday as I descended into the woods and out on the trail in Wild Basin, it occurred to me: regardless of what happens on Capitol or Snowmass, I had done it, I had climbed and skied the original 54 list of 14ers, and I had done it in less than one year!

Summit of Longs.

Summit of Longs.

Starting June 4, 2015 and wrapping up with Longs Peak on June 3, 2016. I was able to complete the original and widely accepted ski list of 54 starting with Capitol Peak on June 4, 2015, and finishing with Longs Peak on June 3, 2016, done in less than one year. Dav’s Record is still on the table at 362 Days and I was able to hang in at 364 days. He and I are the only two people reported to have skied all the 14ers in less than a calendar year. To push the record out It’s gonna come down to trying for Capitol still.  In my opinion, the conditions are probably not safe, its too warm – but I know for a fact the coverage on the ski line is good from what I saw on Sunday from the top of Snowmass.  Regardless of what I decide to do moving forward, this project has been amazing, and I have accomplished a lot.  I reached one of my goals- and that was to finish skiing the 14ers.  Prior to last year I had skied about 45 of the 14ers, so it was awesome to be able to go back to all the peaks again, and of course add some new ones that I had not skied just yet. Regardless its been a heck of a ride!

Stay Tuned……

Dr. Jon

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Peaks #49, 50 and #51 – Huge 8,000′ Vertical Day on the Wilson Massif and El Diente – Saturday May 28, 2016.

#49 Wilson Peak 14,017′  Summit 715am

#50 El Diente 14,159′     Summit 1030am

#51 Mount Wilson 14,246′ Summit 130pm

Atop 14,246' Mount Wilson - the third peak of the day as the weather held just long enough to get the third peak skied and get down safely.

Atop 14,246′ Mount Wilson – the third peak of the day as the weather held just long enough to get the third peak skied and get down safely.

It was a huge day to pull of the Triple Trifecta on three iconic peaks near Telluride on Saturday. The weather held for the final peak and I only experienced a few snow flurries on my 12 hour day.

Dropping on on El Diente.

Dropping on on El Diente.

Snow conditions for the end of May  were among the best I have ever seen them in this range.  6-12″ of fresh stable powder coated the slopes, and with the exception of Wilson Peak early on, I skied north facing stable powder on El Diente and Mount Wilson.

Wilson Peak - Tap the rockies at 14,017', first peak of the day.

Wilson Peak – Tap the rockies at 14,017′, first peak of the day.

All three peaks the powder was excellent, and for late May I will take it!

Only 5 peaks remain on this project, and a quest to become the fastest to ski the 14ers and the only person to ski them all in one season within the same year as well (2016).  Some tough peaks left, but they are also peaks that I have skied before, so I am ready to tackle them and put this project to bed.

Climbing the Fox Traverse on 14,159' El Diente.

Climbing the Fox Traverse on 14,159′ El Diente.

SO grateful for all the support and adventures thus far.  A huge shout out to my friends Bill and Cheryl Jensen who have been super nice to provide me a place to stay in Telluride for this leg of my trip and a little R&R during the Telluride Film Fest!

Closing in on the Finish line!

Closing in on the Finish line!

I’ll head out again soon and get closer to wrapping this thing up in the next week.

 

Thanks for following along!

 

Best

 

Dr. Jon

 

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A big week in the Elks and the San Juans, Peaks #44 – #48 Completed. May 20-27.

Eric on the summit of Eolus right after sunrise.

Eric on the summit of Eolus right after sunrise.

Skiing peaks right off the top in May in Colorado: doesn’t get any better than this!

With snow conditions at their peak, and some cooler weather mixed in with some bluebird days, dating from the 19th when I skied North Maroon with Chris and Ted, I have continued on to ski South Maroon, Eolus, Sunlight, Windom, and N Eolus,  and spent time on Pyramid too on two separate days bringing the total to 48 peaks.

Looking north from the summit of Maroon Peak 14,156'. Even though I still have to get Snowmass and Capitol (seen in the distance), I skied both peaks last season so I have plenty of confidence in those two!

Looking north from the summit of Maroon Peak 14,156′. Even though I still have to get Snowmass and Capitol (seen in the distance), I skied both peaks last season so I have plenty of confidence in those two!

I was able to get South Maroon done last Sunday the 22nd of May.

 

Eric dropping in on North Eolus with Eolus in the Distance.

Eric dropping in on North Eolus with Eolus in the Distance.

Then it was on to the train and a date with the Chicago Basin 14ers up from Needleton.  I went for the proverbial 4-Banger and skied all four peaks on Tuesday the 24th.

Skiing off Sunlight 14er.

Skiing off Sunlight 14er.

After some low pressure I’ll get back out and ski the Wilson Massif and try to get these peaks done by mid-June!

Skiing Sunlight with the 13,995' Sunlight Spire above.

Skiing Sunlight with the 13,995′ Sunlight Spire above.

Cheers- Trip reports will get added as time allows.

Nice turns on Windom on the north face Widowmaker.

Nice turns on Windom on the north face Widowmaker.

Dr. Jon

 

 

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#43 – North Maroon 14,014′ – Thursday May 19, 2016.

#43 North Maroon – 14, 014′- Thursday May 19, 2016.

After skiing the North Face we were so pumped!

After skiing the North Face we were so pumped!

This morning was one of the coolest lines I have ever skied on a 14er.  I was able to take advantage of good weather, pretty good conditions, and phenomenal ski partners to ski the ultra-classic north face of North Maroon.

Chris and Ted on the Summit, Pyramid in the Background.

Chris and Ted on the Summit, Pyramid in the Background.

My friends Chris Davenport and Ted Mahon were free on Thursday and we all had nothing better to do, so we linked up and had some fun on a peak I have always wanted to ski.

The three of us on the top part of the face, Photo by Jordan White.

The three of us on the top part of the face, Photo by Jordan White.

I have climbed North Maroon over a dozen times over the years, but finally got to ski it.   I’ll update the Trip Report Page as soon as time allows!

Halfway down the face, traversing the ledges in good powder in most places.

Halfway down the face, traversing the ledges in good powder in most places.

Heading out for more as it’s prime time in the Elks and San Juans,

 

MORE TO COME!

 

Dr. Jon

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Peaks #38 and #39 Evans (14,264′) and Bierstadt (14,060′) Twofer – Tuesday May 3, 2016.

#38 Evans and #39  Bierstadt in Bluebird spring conditions.

Summit of Evans (14,264'), skied right off the top, Observatory in view.

Summit of Evans (14,264′), skied right off the top, Observatory in view.

Before heading south for some heavy lifting, I took advantage of cold conditions from northerly winds this morning and got Evans and Bierstadt both skied in excellent style and pretty good conditions too.

Not much time to tell more about the day here. Will have the trip reports up by this weekend so please check back!  Thanks for following along.

Best

Dr. Jon

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Peak #37 Massive 14,420′ Sunday May 1 – May Day Powder Ski to Close out the Sawatch Range

Summit and ski of Mt. Massive – 14,420′ 

Summit of Massive 14,420', My 6th official ski of this peak in my career.

Summit of Massive 14,420′, My 6th official ski of this peak in my career.

I got to climb above the clouds from an approaching storm and enjoy up to 18″ of fresh powder on my ski descent for Mt. Massive on Sunday.  It was an 18 mile day as the road to access N. Halfmoon was only plowed to about 5.5 miles below the summer trailhead.  It felt great to finish up the Sawatch Range, and with awesome weather coming this week, I’ll start taking on some of the really tough ones soon.

 

More to be posted on the Trip Reports Page for Mt. Massive when I get some time!

 

Cheers-

 

Dr. Jon

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Peaks #35 & #36 Grays and Torrey’s Twofer – Two-Thirds Finished with Project! April 25, 2016.

Peaks #35 and #36 completed, and finished with two-thirds of the project, 18 peaks to go!

Getting ready to drop into the Dead Dog on Torreys.

Getting ready to drop into the Dead Dog on Torreys.

I took advantage of a spectacular weather window on Monday and doubled up on Grays and Torreys to get to an important milestone. Here is a quick video of my ski descent  of the spectacular Dead Dog Couloir on Torrey’s peak, which was my 16th peak of April! Full trip reports will be updated on the “Sking 14ers” drop down menu as soon as time allows.

A personal note of self-assessment since I am 2/3 of the way completed with this project:

I personally feel any kind of timed, speed record may indeed amplify the mountaineering risks tenfold. However, my record attempt is very calculated and also isn’t really a ‘speed’ record of any sort. After all, I am just climbing up and skiing down peaks, and not trying to go fast like it’s a race. I simply go out and ski the peaks at my own pace and Yes I am attempting to do something nobody has ever done before, and that is ski the 14ers in one single season. However, as I have gone through this project, careful assessment of the mountain ranges has actually allowed me to look for the best conditions. (I have spread out across the state from time to time, skiing peaks that are in condition while also carefully scouting ones I need to ski still, AND on top of that I also carefully plan and go when I know there is good weather). Fortunately for me, turning around hasn’t really ever needed to be a major option yet because I plan carefully, and start early enough and know what I am capable of.

Looking back at the Dead Dog after skiing it top to bottom on Torreys.

Looking back at the Dead Dog after skiing it top to bottom on Torreys.

But, needless to say I have had to turn around a few times, and have been able to use that information to my advantage to let the mountain decide, and to get some great scouting of a peak in. This is something I have done on many of my expeditions to 8000m peaks in years past. At the end of the day I am doing this project because I am passionate about ski mountaineering here in Colorado, not because I am concerned with what others think or want out of this agenda I have set. As it turns out, no matter what you try to accomplish in life, people feel the need to criticize and belittle. Good for them. I welcome both encouragers and discouragers. At the end of the day I LOVE pushing myself in the mountains. I’ve enjoyed the challenge, the solitude, some amazing ski partners, and at the core I simply set goals and I go after them. I am grateful for everyone who has been following along, supporting me, or even joining me on this adventure. I even love to hear about people that think this is a ridiculous idea. I’m really just having fun. As I enter into the homestretch of this adventure into May and Early June, I am already taking it to the next level. I hope that many will join me, push me, and support me, and for that I am excited. I have left another final piece of this project which gives me a lot of confidence, I am going into the final 6 weeks or so ready to ski most of these final 18 peaks that I have already climbed and skied in the past multiple times, and so this gives me a lot of confidence that I can give it my best and get the job done, conditions and weather just need to cooperate now. Yes- there are some pretty hard ones left, but May also historically holds the finest and safest conditions on these tough ones, so I am excited to get them rolling.

Holy Cross Summit 14,005' Peak #34 of 2016.

Holy Cross Summit 14,005′ Peak #34 of 2016.

Looking forward to continuing the journey – thanks for following along!

 

Dr Jon

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Peak #31 – Mt. Lindsey – 14,042′ April 13: Small Avalanche….

Mt. Lindsey: April 13th would be my 11th 14er peak skied in 13 days in April. Mt Lindsey was an exercise in risk management.

Summit, 14,042' in complete powder.

Summit, 14,042′ in complete powder.

A long 23 mile day in fresh powder made for an awesome ski and some surprises around every corner.  A landslide to navigate and an avalanche.  Check out the full trip report here:

http://skiing14ers.com/31-mt-lindsey-14042/

Avalanche video on the ski descent is below.

After the storms this weekend I will get back out there to keep things going so that I will be ready for prime time in May and the home stretch.

Thanks for following along!

 

Dr. Jon

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Peaks #25-28 Bross, Lincoln, Cameron, Democrat: April 7 Project Halfway Point

Peaks #25-28 Halfway Point of the Project!

Bross, Lincoln, Cameron, and Democrat.

Summit of Lincoln, 14,286' highest in the 10 Mile / Mosquito and 8th highest summit in Colorado.

Summit of Lincoln, 14,286′ highest in the 10 Mile / Mosquito and 8th highest summit in Colorado.

Start at 8am, Bross at 1030am, Lincoln at 11, Cameron at 1215, Democrat at 145pm. Finish 230pm.   This was about the 4th or 5th time I’ve skied all of these peaks, so it was pretty straightforward.

Always in charge and getting ready to charge down Democrat, Peak #28.

Always in charge and getting ready to charge down Democrat, Peak #28.

The snow was great on Democrat and ok on the others. All in all a fun day with only a few wind bursts, and I got to relax on each summit for at least 30 minutes each on my Solo Day.

Democrat from the southeast - I would ski the fun southeast 'Democratic Donkey' couloir.

Democrat from the southeast – I would ski the fun southeast ‘Democratic Donkey’ couloir.

On Thursday I skied four more 14ers, bringing my total to 28 and reaching the halfway point of the ski the 14ers project. The ‘Decalibron loop’ dubbed by most people, is in the 10-Mile/ Mosquito Range. I called in the ‘Broslincamdem’ loop because that is the order I skied the peaks in for the day.

With these four peaks I was also able to complete this range and move even further towards the overall goal to ski every Colorado 14er in the same season.

Bross, 14,172'

Bross, 14,172′

Here are a few photos and I will get posts up on the ‘ski the 14ers menu bar for each peak as soon as time allows. The skiing off of Democrat was good while Bross was in less than favorable conditions and Lincoln was pretty nice off the top.

The line off Cameron was fun after dropping over from Lincoln and Bross.

The line off Cameron was fun after dropping over from Lincoln and Bross.

Wow, this week since last Saturday I skied eight 14ers, so it’s tough to catch up on the writing and posting of photos right now!

Timer photo on top of Democrat.

Timer photo on top of Democrat.

Let’s keep it going: A small storm system comes through over the weekend I will resume the adventure next week!

 

Thanks for Tuning in,

 

Dr. Jon

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