A journey skiing and exploring Colorado's highest peaks

Category: Elk Range

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

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

 

 

#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

Peak #12 – Castle Peak 14,265′ – Powder Conditions in the Elk Range

CASTLE PEAK

Peak #12: Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Dropping directly off the top of Castle!

Dropping directly off the top of Castle!

Elevation: 14,265’

Ski Route: East Face to North Face Couloir

Roundtrip Mileage and Vertical: 7mi / 3,600′

Ski Partners: Anna Migl, John Fielder

Start Time: 345am
Reached Summit: 8am (Hour on the Summit)
End Time: 1015am back to Green Wilson Hut

It was a cold and clear morning when we departed the Green Wilson Hut deep in the heart of the Elk Mountains on Tuesday Morning.  Sunday and Monday were quite stormy, dumping up to a foot of powder in this corner of Colorado. The snow had settled into the stable layer below, so as I broke trail into Montezuma basin, the going was moderately tough, but the stars were spectacular.

Early Morning Light

Early Morning Light

Cresting into the upper basin, the morning light came on strong and before I knew it we were skinning up to the notch on the northeast ridge of Castle.

Steep ridge in deep powder.

Steep ridge in deep powder.

It was a chilly morning, and as the sun began to come up, we made it to the ridge. It felt almost Himalayan as I had been climbing in my down jacket throughout the morning darkness but thankfully there was no wind.

Brilliant day in the Rockies!

Brilliant day in the Rockies!

The views became even more impressive as we got higher and higher.   The ridge was tough and loaded with snow, and at times as we booted up the ridge I sank up to my waist in the fresh powder.

Getting close to the top.

Getting close to the top.

Up the final summit pitch was a challenge of powder, and we battle through it so by 8am we had earned the summit. Calm, cold, and clear, but the morning sun warmed us. This was a peak I definitely was enjoying. In fact we stayed for an hour on top. This was my 3rd winter summit of Castle and probably the best one yet. The snow was amazing.

Calm Summit 14,265'

Calm Summit 14,265′

After some food and snacks, I clicked in and skied right of the top of the highest spot in all of the Elk Range. The best way off the summit was by way of the east face.

The East Face with an impressive backdrop.

The East Face with an impressive backdrop.

I took a couple of turns off the steep point on the crest of the face, and then we made our way to the notch on the northeast ridge that we climbed. From here the north couloir was beckoning. No steeper than 35-40 degrees or so, the broad couloir was filled in nicely with up to 3 feet of powder that had blown in during the last storm.

Creamy Turns in the North Couloir

Creamy Turns in the North Couloir

Nearly 1000 feet of fun turns we took in this couloir, and once we made it down in to the basin we really opened things up for an half hour of fun skiing down the basin and back to the Green-Wilson Hut.  I was fortunate to spend a few days hut tripping with great friends and got a chance to ski over Pearl Pass as well, exploring some excellent corners of the Elk Range.

Look closely, you can see our tracks!

Look closely, you can see our tracks!

Because the snow conditions of powder were so awesome, it was my favorite peak of the project so far and one of my best 14er skis in years.  With more awesome weather coming in the next few days I am going to get after some more peaks to keep this project rolling!  Thanks for following along!

Great look down the East Face.

Great look down the East Face.

Dr. Jon

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