A journey skiing and exploring Colorado's highest peaks

Tag: 14erskirecord

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

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

 

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 #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

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

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

Happy Easter 2016 – A Big week of peaks #17-20.

Getting to 20 Peaks completed

FOLLOW ME LIVE OUT ON THE PEAKS!

The magical hour.

The magical hour.

It’s been quite a week, and today was a great way to finish my 4th peak in 7 days and my 5th peak in 8 days. We took advantage of fresh powder and seized on blue skies to summit and Ski Mount Sherman in the 10-mile / Mosquito Range. It’s been so darn windy all winter and I was hoping that the new snow as well as taking advantage of the leeward side of the peak would provide a reasonable descent.

Stepping to the summit of 14,042' Ellingwood with Little Bear Peak in the distance.

Stepping to the summit of 14,042′ Ellingwood with Little Bear Peak in the distance.

I will have the new peaks and pages updated soon so thanks for following along! This week the weather is forecasted to deteriorate until next Friday or Saturday, so for now I will hold, rest and get ready to get back after it in a few days.

 

Summary of the past week:

#17 and #18 Monday March 21 Ellingwod (14,042’) and Blanca (14,345’)

Skiing the south face of Ellingwood 14er.

Skiing the south face of Ellingwood 14er.

#19 Friday March 25 Columbia (14,073’)

The snow was pretty good on Columbia too.

The snow was pretty good on Columbia too.

#20 Sunday March 27 Sherman (14,036’)

Even the normally bare and scoured Sherman provided some healthy turns.

Even the normally bare and scoured Sherman provided some healthy turns.

Thanks for tagging along and more to come!

 

Dr. Jon

Peak #16 – Little Bear – 14,037′ – Hourglass Couloir – March 19th

Little Bear – 14,037′ – March 19th.

Click here for Live SPOT updates on the Peaks!

Little Bear from near Lake Como.

Little Bear from near Lake Como.

Steep, icy, dangerous, and challenging – Little Bear was ready to offer up a tough winter ascent and ski descent.

Chris Tomer pulled up in his Tacoma to meet us at the bottom of the Blanca Peak / Como Road in the early morning. It hadn’t dropped below freezing and the forecast was for nothing but clear skies. Torrey and Anna had both joined me for the evening and they were both stirring in their vehicles. I gobbled up some mini cinnamon rolls, downed some water and we were all ready to continue up the road around 2am. I jumped in with Anna and Torrey and we drove up the road behind Tomer. 20 minutes later we parked and started hiking up the road as it rose out of the San Luis valley, it definitely felt like spring.

 

In darkness we ascended in to the Como Valley in moonlight, reached the snowline at 10,000’ and kept climbing. It turned into winter as we got higher. It was a pretty cold early morning, in the teens for sure. Crossing Lake Como around 5am it was cold with an occasional wind gust, but we all knew the challenge looming above us. Above the lake we stashed some gear in the last trees and headed up the first gully to gain the west ridge. The steps were good and making the ridge, Tomer and I chatted as we watched the morning light and allowed Anna and Torrey to catch up to us for a bit.

Amazing morning - Photo: Chris Tomer.

Amazing morning – Photo: Chris Tomer.

We continued on. The ridge was awesome as the morning Belt of Venus owned the sky with a light show to the west.

The last full day of winter.

The last full day of winter.

Getting on the snow slope and traversing to the hourglass was fun and relatively quick.

Dr. Jon cruising up the slopes of Little Bear.

Dr. Jon cruising up the slopes of Little Bear.

I let Tomer lead and he made some nice steps up the firm snow of the Hourglass.

Tomer charging up the Hourglass.

Tomer charging up the Hourglass.

Great couloir climbing. The snow was firm and even icy in places – I’ll admit, as I climbed up through the narrowest part of the couloir, I knew skiing down this would be difficult. I always try to envision and plan out where my turns will go in my head, and usually hold to the plan on my descent.

Dr. Jon climbing up the steepest section. Photo: Chris Tomer.

Dr. Jon climbing up the steepest section. Photo: Chris Tomer.

The rest of the climb went by pretty fast. I followed Tomer to the Summit and were there by 830am. The top was blustery with gusts coming from different directions sporadically. Peak #16 of the project was a big one.

A beautiful day in the Sangre De Cristo Range. Crestones, Ellingwood, Blanca, and Lindsey all 14ers visible here. Photo by Anna Migl.

A beautiful day in the Sangre De Cristo Range. Crestones, Ellingwood, Blanca, and Lindsey all 14ers visible here. Photo by Anna Migl.

As I prepared for the ski descent I had the steepest section in mind. A solo climber named Drew made it to the top behind us and soon after came Anna and Torrey. The views were stellar on a crystal clear day. Clear views to the Crestones and to peaks in the southern Sawatch and San Juans.

 

I was anxious to descend. Chris headed down further to set up to shoot some photos. After taking a few more summit shots and a summit video I descended. The top of the peak was icy and rocky, but if we don’t get any more snow up there this season this might be my last chance to make some turns.

Making delicate turns in the upper section. Not the greatest conditions.

Making delicate turns in the upper section. Not the greatest conditions.

Above the hourglass I made some turns and side slipped down to right above the steepest part. There was a small choke of ice and snow that would have to be skied in a straight line with a quick right turn to the wider top of the hourglass. Without too much more thought I went for it. The rest of what transpired is something unlike anything I have ever personally experienced in my ski-mountaineering career. I’ve seen a lot of things on my years of expeditions and skiing, but I have never been the victim. My skis wouldn’t bite when I carved my right turn into the slope. I lost my balance and fell backwards. I spun around and plunged down the hill and into the couloir. I immediately accelerated. My mind screamed, “self- arrest, self arrest, stop, stop, stop!” But my friends around me watched and heard nothing but silence. My ice axe got ripped from my hands, my skis popped off and went flying. I accelerated some more. Somehow I first managed to get my head up and face my feet out like I was riding downstream floating in a river or down a slide in the park. I don’t know how but I steered myself away from the walls of the narrow choke point in the hourglass. Realizing I had no tools to stop me, I turned around and dug in with every other part of my body: mainly my knees, hands, elbows, and feet. A hundred and fifty yards later I came to an abrupt stop. I sank into knee deep powder below. “Are you alright?” Tomer shouted. “Ya I think I’m good”, I said. “I was just actually mad at myself for miscalculating the turn!” I told my friends I was sorry for crashing. I did a quick check myself but because I was on such an adrenaline rush, I felt no pain. Chris and Anna brought my skis and pole and ice axe back down to me.

 

Descending down the rest of the slope I couldn’t believe I was ok. I was so lucky not to have hit anything. That was the wildest craziest ride I’ve ever taken, basically all the way down the Hourglass for about 400 feet. Once on the ridge I took stock of the situation in the morning sun as we waited on Torrey to come down the couloir himself.   I had a couple of abrasive cuts on my elbows and knees, but otherwise I was completely unharmed. Descending the rest of the mountain, I felt like I wasn’t ready to try and go up to Ellingwood and Blanca just yet.

Ellingwood - Coming up next.

Ellingwood – Coming up next.

We headed back down to the trailhead and eventually into Alamosa. As I skied down the Como road before having to transition to my hiking boots I kept replaying what happened in my head.  I was on such an adrenaline rush that I still felt strange that it all happened. Then I actually went to the clinic and got checked out. Nothing broken and nothing but a few stiches in my right elbow. A little sore at the moment for one hell of a tumble, but It wasn’t time to quit on this project now – I would come back for Blanca and Ellingwood soon enough to wrap up these peaks.

More Peaks to go - never give up…..

More Peaks to go – never give up…..

Thanks for following along and I promise to stay safe as I move forward.

Dr. Jon

Peaks #13, #14, & #15 Missouri (14,067′), Oxford (14,153′) and Belford (14,197′) – March 11

#13-#15 Belford Oxford and Missouri, Friday March 11th.

FOLLOW ME LIVE ON MY SPOT BEACON!

A big day with lots of vertical to ski all three peaks in the Sawatch.

Started 545am, Summit Missouri 1015am, Oxford 2pm, Belford 3pm. Finish 430pm.

15 miles and 7,500′ vertical day.

Belford (left) and Missouri to the right up the basin.

Belford (left) and Missouri to the right up the basin.

I left my house around 4am to head down south and get a good jump on Missouri, Belford and Oxford on Friday. The forecast was for light winds and sunny skies so I knew that a little effort could mean getting three peaks in a day. As I drove up the dirt road to the Missouri gulch trailhead I was pleasantly surprised at how much the road to the trailhead had melted out. In January I had come up the same road by way of snowmobile to access Huron. I didn’t expect to drive through some frozen sections of snow and then dirt road and reach the summer trailhead. Wow!

It was going to save me some excellent time to be able to start from the normal trailhead.

In early morning light around 530am I got moving skinning quickly up the switchbacks and into Missouri gulch. A nice snowshoe track from folks a few days earlier allowed me to reach timberline in the basin below Belford, heading towards Missouri in a quick hour and a half. The occasional gust greeted me, and I was soon skinning up the basin and into the throes of the northeast aspect of Missouri and above 13,000’ in the sunshine.   A short break to put sunscreen on and then I put my skis on my pack and booted up to the north ridge.

On the ridge at 13,800. The north face seen here.

On the ridge at 13,800. The north face seen here.

When I got to the ridgeline, I had nothing but about a mile of short ups and downs on a fun and windblown ridge. The sun was nice and warm, and the snow was firm, so I enjoy my stroll to the south and the views were impressive.

looking back at my steps I had to kick in order to make it towards the summit.

looking back at my steps I had to kick in order to make it towards the summit.

Near the summit there are a series of sharp points on the ridge, in the summer the trail passes to the west of them. The snow was firm enough to kick steps in the steep sideways incline, so I pushed across a short 150 yard section and was up on the summit by 1015am.

Summit 14,067'

Summit 14,067′

The north face couloir drops almost directly off the summit and into the elkhead basin below. After a ski cut or two, the powder conditions felt perfect, so I pulled out my camera and filmed part of my descent.

When I got to the bottom, I took an angle to the southeast and began my ascent of Belford In order to head towards Oxford.

I would be able to put together a reasonable line directly down the west face coming straight down towards me later in the day off Belford.

I would be able to put together a reasonable line directly down the west face coming straight down towards me later in the day off Belford.

The top of Belford was very windblown and dry. I was hoping to find a line off its west aspects later on in the day, but for the moment I bypassed the summit to the south and got my first glimpse of Oxford.

Looking over to Oxford, I was able to ski the windblown ridgeline to put together a line off the top.

Looking over to Oxford, I was able to ski the windblown ridgeline to put together a line off the top.

Oxford looked bad, but I did see a long line of snow from the top down to the saddle of the ridge, so I knew if I could climb up to Oxford, I would be able to ski back towards Belford and get it done.

 

The winds began to pick up ever so slightly, but I made good time across the long flat ridge to Oxford’s summit. Looking south Harvard and Columbia Looked very dry.

Barely enough snow to ski off the top of Oxford.

Barely enough snow to ski off the top of Oxford.

We need more snow! Fortunately I already skied Harvard in Better conditions, but the southern Sawatch peaks that I have remaining definitely concern me.

Looking back to Oxford's summit and my ski tracks.

Looking back to Oxford’s summit and my ski tracks.

After a short rest and some food and drink, I clicked in and skied the ridge back to the saddle towards Belford. I basically went from two of the best skiing peaks of the entire project (Castle and Missouri), to the worst peaks with conditions yet (Belford and Oxford). Honestly, I just wanted to go home at this point. It was a long day, and I did enjoy it a great deal.

 

The south ridge leading toward Belford was so dry. Fortunately the west face had just enough snow to ski down.

The south ridge leading toward Belford was so dry. Fortunately the west face had just enough snow to ski down.

Then I arrived on Belford’s summit and was greeted by a Russian woman named Natalie who had climbed Missouri and had come back across the valley to bag Belford.   We both agreed that the ski descent of Missouri was excellent and thought we could probably piece together a reasonable line on Belford’s west side.

Natalie dropping down the west face with Missouri as a nice backdrop.

Natalie dropping down the west face with Missouri as a nice backdrop.

We skied past some small towers and made the most of some great turns in the warm afternoon sun.

Looking back up Belford while skiing the west face aspects.

Looking back up Belford while skiing the west face aspects.

Then the fun part was cruising down the basin back towards Missouri Gulch and the trailhead above timberline on fast slopes in the creek bed.

Heading back to timberline, my tracks.

Heading back to timberline, my tracks.

The only thing slowing me down now is that I broke one of my bindings in deep snow in the trees on the way down…luckily I have a bit of time to get if fixed this week as this Colorado storm system moves through, plus it should help with more snow!

 

As I entered the trees I started to take stock of the project. Feeling amazing so far and off to an excellent start through about the first quarter of this endeavor.

Back to the trailhead in Missouri Gulch before the sun set. A full 11 hour day!

Back to the trailhead in Missouri Gulch before the sun set. A full 11 hour day!

I appreciate the support from many so far. I have had a handful of great partners to join me, and I’m sure there will be more on the horizon. On to the Sangres for a bit next!

 

Cheers

 

Dr. Jon

 

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