A journey skiing and exploring Colorado's highest peaks

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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

#52 Sneffels and #53 Pyramid- May into June Getting Closer to the Finish Line

14,150′ Sneffels  Peak #52 Tuesday May 31 

Clear Across the Elks from Summit of Sneffels 14,150'

Clear Across the Elks from Summit of Sneffels 14,150′

14,018′ Pyramid Peak #53 Wednesday June 1

An excellent view from high on Pyramid with Snowmass and Capitol in the distance.

An excellent view from high on Pyramid with Snowmass and Capitol in the distance.

After a couple days of rest in Telluride, it was time to head north and try and finish up a few more peaks.  I did a quick ascent of Sneffels from Yankee Boy basin (Only 3 hours round trip, including 30 minutes on top) and skied the south face and couloir direct,  and followed that up with a ski of the quite challenging and dangerous Pyramid in the Elks.

A buried trailhead in Yankee Boy Basin.

A buried trailhead in Yankee Boy Basin.

I closed out the month of May with Sneffels, making it my 16th peak of May. It was also a close-out peak in the San Juans as I was able to ski every peak in the San Juans now.

Lavender Couloir and looking southeast into the San Juans.

Lavender Couloir and looking southeast into the San Juans.

With very warm temps and June now here, I am lucky to have only Longs, Snowmass, and Capitol left.  Honestly I am not so sure that Capitol will be realistic to ski from the top this late in the season.  the coverage is good but snow conditions and warmth may not be safe enough. Fortunately I climbed and skied it last season so now I have officially skied every 14er as Longs and Snowmass are repeats.

Down from the danger zone on Pyramid…...

Down from the danger zone on Pyramid……

For now I will still climb and finish the final peaks and try to put this project to bed in the next week or so.  It’s been such an amazing ride and I am thankful for all the good conditions, good fortune, great ski partners and of course the peaks for challenging me and allowing me to climb and ski them!

Once middle of June hits and I am done with all the skiing I will have more time to get the Trip Reports for each peak posted which tell the full stories.

 

Thanks for all the support-

 

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 #42 — Kit Carson – 14,165′ – Tuesday May 10, 2016.

Kit Carson- Outward Bound Couloir – May 10, 2016.

Wow- Kit Carson’s north Outward Bound Couloir was awesome yesterday.  Had a chance to get up and get down before the weather was too bad, although the summit was foggy.  Skiing right off the top was pretty straightforward since there is so much snow in the Sangres right now.   More soon on the Kit Carson Page. More peaks left, the Elk Range is calling now with good weather and high pressure setting in.

Sunrise near Willow Lake.

Sunrise near Willow Lake.

Garret on the Summit of 14,165' Kit Carson.

Garret on the Summit of 14,165′ Kit Carson.

Getting ready to drop into the OB Couloir.

Getting ready to drop into the OB Couloir.

 

 

More to Come!

 

Dr. Jon

Peaks #40 and #41 Crestone Needle (14,197′) & Crestone Peak (14,294′) – May 5 & 6, 2016.

#40 Crestone Needle (14,197′) – Thursday May 5.   CINCO DE MAYO!

#41 Crestone Peak (14,294′) – Friday May 6.

I wrapped up an incredible week, skiing 5 peaks in 6 days. The Sangres were definitely the highlight of this week’s adventure.   I took advantage of the stable weather and got to ski some amazing and nicely filled in (and steep!)  south facing lines on the Crestones on back to back days.  Originally my plan was to try and get both Crestones in the same day, but the warmest days of the year so far here in Colorado had other ideas.

Summit of Crestone Needle - May 5, 2016. Great view over to Crestone Peak and Kit Carson, all in amazing snow and ski conditions.

Summit of Crestone Needle – May 5, 2016. Great view over to Crestone Peak and Kit Carson, all in amazing snow and ski conditions.

Even though I summitted and skied Crestone Needle before 9am- by the time I traversed over and looked at the bottom of the south “Red” Couloir on the Crestone Peak on Thursday – my gut and the conditions showed me it was way too soft to go up.  No worries – as I retraced my steps back to South Colony, spent another night at my ‘car camp’ and made quick work of the Peak the next morning very early by utilizing my own established boot pack and got up and down before the next storm system arrived!

Storm rolling in from the south as I skied down the south "Red" Couloir on Crestone Peak - a delightful line.

Storm rolling in from the south as I skied down the south “Red” Couloir on Crestone Peak – a delightful line.

For more on both of these trips- please visit the pages for these peaks on the drop down menu for Skiing the 14ers.   (Still playing catch up since this was such a big week – put photos should be up soon!).  Now that May is here in full force, with a few days of rest I will be ready to get back out there to take advantage of conditions that have all my remaining peaks coated in good snow, and certainly skiable.  While there is much work to be done- it is certainly possible to finish all the peaks by early June to wrap up this project.  Ahhh…but I’ll keep telling myself to stay patient, stay hungry, and certainly stay humble. The mountains make the decisions and I will keep on keeping on.  Just a side note- It’s been very nice of a handful of skiers here in Colorado to reach out to me with words of encouragement.  I want to let any of my awesome ski-mountaineer friends or acquaintances that want to ski with me to please get in touch.  Having some more great ski partners for this home stretch will be critical to my success and I am so grateful.

 

See you on the next summit!

 

Dr. Jon

 

 

 

 

Peaks #32-#34 Pikes, Antero, and Holy Cross April 20-22.

Pikes Peak Parlayed with a side of Antero and Holy Cross, all in less than 3 days.

Top of Antero 14,269'

Top of Antero 14,269′

A full moon ski on Pikes wednesday night into Thursday, followed by another long slog on Antero on Thursday, and an outstanding tour of Holy Cross on Friday pushed me to 34 peaks completed in 2016.

The trip report pages will be up soon with all the details.

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

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

The snow is becoming phenomenal up high setting the stage for the month of May.

Pikes Peak Summit in the full moon at 1am on April 21.

Pikes Peak Summit in the full moon at 1am on April 21.

With more bad weather coming this week, I’m gonna try and get a few more done before May hits and then I’m ready to go for it all for the next month with less than 20 peaks to go once we get into May.

Thanks for following along, more to come!

Dr. Jon

 

 

Peaks #29 Shavano 14,229′ and #30 Tabeguache 14,155′ – Tuesday, April 12

Peaks #29 & 30

Shavano and Tabeguache

Shavano_top of 14,229' Shavano in a Brief clearing

Top of 14,229′ Shavano in a Brief clearing.

I parlayed a twofer to get to my 30th peak of the project by skiing Shavano and Tabeguache together on the southern end of the Sawatch Range.

With the weather being a great concern- I got a 6:30am start from the east slopes/Blank cabin trailhead and started in Blue skies and morning sunshine.

Gorgeous clear sunrise

Gorgeous clear sunrise

Topping out at 9:30am on Shavano the clouds were already building and snow flurries began to fly.  Fortunately there was no wind. I knew I could move fast so I hustled over the ridge and climbed the east ridge of Tabeguache. Making that summit by 10:30am I was running out of time. Snow was closing in fast from the north and by the time I clicked on my skis I was getting snowed on. The easy east ridge and southeast slopes of Tab were loaded and I was back to the saddle between the two peaks in like 2 minutes.

tabeguache_summit of Tabeguache 14,155'

Summit of Tabeguache 14,155′

A 25 minute climb back to the top of Shavano was the only way to get back down to my trailhead and to ski the angel. When the hail fell- I was worried that some lighting might follow- so I didn’t waste any time.

Climbing back to Shavano's summit by the north Rocky ridge... Good thing the snow was better on the other side!

Climbing back to Shavano’s summit by the north Rocky ridge… Good thing the snow was better on the other side!

It snowed hard for 30 minutes and only let up when I came back up to Shavano’s summit for the second time in less than 2 hours. I looked at the clock- 11:11. Snow was pelting the peak to my south- and Antero to the north was getting hit hard. Fortunately I was in the clear. I clicked in and made some turns right off the top- only a small section below 13,900′ was a bit bare- otherwise I was lucky to find a small ribbon over to the Angel of Shavano- the prominent feature on the southeast face of the peak.

Looking down the Angel of Shavano as the storm rolls in.

Looking down the Angel of Shavano as the storm rolls in.

I was home free- I made turns down the awesome classic Angel to timberline and around noon I escaped into the trees to the sound of thunder and a flash of lightning way above me. Back to the trailhead by 1pm it was an awesome six and a half hour tour covering 12 miles and 5,500′ elevation climbed and skied.

On to Lindsey in the Sangre de Cristos’s for an early start to beat the weather again tomorrow!

Bottom of the Angel of Shavano after skiing it

Bottom of the Angel of Shavano after skiing it.

Thanks for following along-

 

Dr. Jon.

Peaks #20-24: 14ers Sunshine, Redcloud, Handies, and San Luis April 3 & 4

MOUNTAINS IN ALL DIRECTIONS! A Four Peak Slam.

San Luis 14,014', 4th peak in two days.

San Luis 14,014′, 4th peak in two days.

I seized on incredible weather for the weekend and did a ‘Triple Feat’ on Sunday, up and over Sunshine from the Mill Creek Trailhead, skied to Redcloud, dropped down to the Grizzly Gulch Trailhead and then did an out and back to Handies, returning down to Mill Creek by way of the Cinnamon Pass road.

Heading from Sunshine to Redcloud.

Heading from Sunshine to Redcloud.

All told about a 18 mile loop in 15 hours to climb and ski #21, #22, and #23 of the project. And what a glorious day in the San Juans it was!

Roger coming up the north ridge of Handies for the third summit of the day.

Roger coming up the north ridge of Handies for the third summit of the day.

Thanks to Roger Carter for battling all day with me on those three peaks and for Anna Migl for coming along on the first two.

San Luis was 19 miles for a spectacular ski tour.

San Luis was 19 miles for a spectacular ski tour.

Then on Monday April 4, I was heading home but knowing that the weather was good, I traveled up solo towards the Equity Mine and approached San Luis from the south Creede side and was able to ski peak #24 of the project. This allowed me to close out the peaks in the Eastern San Juan range, which will be a huge boost to allow me to concentrate on other peaks moving forward.

On Redcloud's Summit, excited for more.

On Redcloud’s Summit, excited for more.

So far so good! The weather is bad for a couple of days now but I will be back out at it later this week, stay tuned for the full trip reports in the ‘ski the 14ers’ drop down menu.

More to come, see you out there!

Dr. Jon

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