Skiing the 14ers

A journey skiing and exploring Colorado's highest peaks

Category: Front 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

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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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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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