November 8 – 9, 2015
With snow accumulating in the high alpine, Pat “Perry” Johnson and Jon Creasy planned a camping trip into a part of the Front Range not too far from Breckenridge. Since I haven’t camped in winter weather in a while, I decided to take the opportunity to brush up on my skills and get out there with them. We reached the trailhead and started the skin to our destination. This consisted of pretty good snow but did have a lot of rocks and melted out areas to avoid.
Once finding an ideal spot to pitch our tents, we set up camp and relaxed for a short while. Perry and I spent a large amount of time in this area during the summer and fall knocking off 13ers and our familiarity with the terrain was pretty good. After some recon we decided to ascend a nearby 13er where we knew some good snow on a mellow slope existed, with the bonus of being able to ride from the summit. We skinned to the crux of the route which involved a short class 3 section of rock and snow. After making it through the difficulties we finished up the ascent and relished in having just completed a fun mixed ascent before winter would prevent us from such routes until spring. We were able to get some deep turns from the summit and then skinned back to camp.
That night was clear and cold which gave us some amazing views of the Milky Way galaxy. After waking up the next day we decided to go for the objective we scouted out the day before, a nearby 14er that held some nice early season lines. We decided to put our splitboards on our backs and head for the summit on foot from camp, as the best route didn’t hold much snow and prevented a viable skin. The route to the summit consisted of rock and snow with a bit of ice mixed in. Although we had crampons, the conditions allowed for a safe ascent without them. We made our way to the final ridge to the summit where we decided to drop our gear and nab the summit with just an ice axe.
The summit was deserted and after a quick break we made our way back to our gear, checked the snow conditions, and prepared for the descent. We carefully made our shred down and were happy to encounter some good snow and minimal rocks. After riding as far as we could we put our gear back on our packs and hiked back to camp. Perry and Jon planned on staying another night out but I had to be back in Breck, so I packed up my gear and prepared for the variable and long skin out. Making it back to my car I felt content on completing two successful descents so early in the season. I knew this kind of riding and mountaineering would be put on hold as winter was already starting to set in. We would have to wait for more objectives like these until spring conditions dictated safe high alpine riding.