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2014 Colorado Snow Climbing Thread
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By Rocky_Mtn_High
From Arvada, CO
Apr 13, 2014
Lamb's Slide
I've enjoyed the Colorado Ice Climbing thread for the beta on conditions and for getting new ideas about potential ice routes. I figure a similar thread on couloir conditions would be helpful for snow climbers and skiers.

I'll start: I climbed Dragons Tail yesterday, which, somewhat to my surprise, was in the best condition for climbing that I've ever experienced on it, no doubt thanks to the warming temps last week. It was firm snow all the way to the top, with a well-established boot track all the way that felt like an escalator; in fact, we got off the booter to kick our own steps just to get in a work-out. Most climbers and skiers took the left fork to top out (presumably due to the significant cornice threatening the right fork). Thanks to the clouds, the Flattop Trail back down to Bear Lake was firm the whole way (our decision to leave the snow shoes in the car paid off) -- though the skiers weren't too happy about the clouds because the couloir never softened up.

A week ago, I climbed Notchtop Couloir, and the wind-loading in the upper part of the couloir made me a bit nervous. There is a huge cornice at the top, and an ice bench to spice things up a bit (easily avoided if you prefer). The warming last week probably helped to consolidate the snowpack, though of course the new snow today will be a factor for next week.

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By J1.
From Boulder, Colorado
Apr 14, 2014
Towliee
Indian Peaks are in good shape. Expect to skin or walk the road from the main lot. Probably going to be awhile before its bike-able..

Went up there solo on Friday 4/11 and skied Toll and Paiute. Great snow conditions, mix of everything from wind blown-pow to creamy corn. Skinning the road only took about 40-45 min.
Left car - 6:00a
Summit Paiute- 1100a
Summit Toll- 1p
Back to car- 2:30p

Now for the photo BOMB!
Toll and Paiute.
Toll and Paiute.


Road conditions.
Road conditions.


Crooked Couloir, Mt. Audubon.
Crooked Couloir, Mt. Audubon.


Paiute.
Paiute.


Mt. Toll.
Mt. Toll.


View down Curvaceous Couloir, Paiute.
View down Curvaceous Couloir, Paiute.


Nice lines on the North side of Pawnee.
Nice lines on the North side of Pawnee.


Share the snow.
Share the snow.

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By James Hicks
From Denver, CO
Apr 14, 2014
Rapping off of South Six Shooter.
Cristo Couloir on Quandary is shaping up pretty well now as well. Get to it early though. It was softening up by 9 or so in the morning. The road isn't plowed up to the lakes yet, and probably won't be clear for quite some time. So you will want either skis or snowshoes. The hike back down the road was a soupy mess on the return trip. We did it without skis or snowshoes and were slightly regretful of the fact.

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By Mark Ra
From Mid-Atlantic/CO
Apr 14, 2014
MBC
You guys are stressing me out with all these good conditions already, is anything going to be left intact by the end of May?!

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By James Hicks
From Denver, CO
Apr 14, 2014
Rapping off of South Six Shooter.
With all the snow we had this year there will be plenty around, probably well into summer. Cristo usually comes into shape quite early. I am surprised that Dragontail is that nice already though!

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By The Blueprint Part Dank
From FEMA Region VIII
Apr 15, 2014
Harbaugh sucks
I'm planning to do Kiener's next weekend, hoping for cool, solid "snice" on Lambs Side

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By Chris Dickson
From Colorado Springs, CO
Apr 16, 2014
Scarface, Indian Creek.
Snow climbing and skiing on Pikes is in!








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By Rocky_Mtn_High
From Arvada, CO
Apr 19, 2014
Lamb's Slide
Had a great time on Martha's today. The mixed section was a lot of fun (more challenging if you climb on the left side). The ice step near the top is getting pretty mellow. Firm snow and a nice boot track in the upper sections were welcome.

I forgot to bring my camera, or I would post a photo of The Flying Dutchman, which appears to offer a nice snow climb (I didn't see any ice, maybe a small amount up in the constriction. Didn't see any tracks, either).

With all the snow we've had this year, there doesn't appear to be as much as usual in the Long's Peak Cirque, e.g. on Dreamweaver. Always beautiful up there!

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By J1.
From Boulder, Colorado
Apr 22, 2014
Towliee
Dry Gulch is looking good! These pics are from Friday the 18th. Approached Citadel from Dry Gulch. Skied NE side of Trelese, SE Face on Citadel, and North face of Bethel. Egress to car staged at Herman Gulch.. Snow conditions were awesome!
View of Citadel from Dry Gulch.
View of Citadel from Dry Gulch.


Pettingell Peak.
Pettingell Peak.


Ridge to summit of Citadel.
Ridge to summit of Citadel.


Eric Malmgren harvesting some corn.
Eric Malmgren harvesting some corn.


Fresh tracks.
Fresh tracks.


Looking back toward Citadel, Herman Gulch.
Looking back toward Citadel, Herman Gulch.

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By Rocky_Mtn_High
From Arvada, CO
Apr 27, 2014
Lamb's Slide
Dreamweaver: the gift that keeps on giving! Superb snow conditions all the way up to the ridge near the summit of Meeker. No ice yet, but plenty of spicy mixed steps -- one after another -- to hold your attention.

Dreamweaver 26 Apr 2014.
Dreamweaver 26 Apr 2014.


And here's a photo of Martha:

Martha 26 Apr 2014.
Martha 26 Apr 2014.

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By The Blueprint Part Dank
From FEMA Region VIII
Apr 27, 2014
Harbaugh sucks
Lamb slide and the notch were a little sloppy, not really the type of snow climbing that I was looking for, but the mixed step on the Notch was neat, a bit spicy, but good., I actually got one stick into ice, which was, cool I guess.

I'm looking forward to all the snow melting away and giving us some more enjoyable Alpine Ice to climb.

Go ski Lamb's Slide though, it would have been great for skiing yesterday when I was up there.

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By LawHous
From Colorado Springs, CO
Apr 27, 2014
Post climb celebration drinks with a sweet line in the background
The Blueprint Part Dank wrote:
Lamb slide and the notch were a little sloppy, not really the type of snow climbing that I was looking for, but the mixed step on the Notch was neat, a bit spicy, but good., I actually got one stick into ice, which was, cool I guess. I'm looking forward to all the snow melting away and giving us some more enjoyable Alpine Ice to climb. Go ski Lamb's Slide though, it would have been great for skiing yesterday when I was up there.


What do you mean by sloppy? Unconsolidated fluffy stuff? Not crusty and good for climbing on? I'm thinking of climbing The Notch next weekend so I'd like to know how bad it was. Thanks for our beta man.

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By The Blueprint Part Dank
From FEMA Region VIII
Apr 27, 2014
Harbaugh sucks
LawHous wrote:
What do you mean by sloppy? Unconsolidated fluffy stuff? Not crusty and good for climbing on? I'm thinking of climbing The Notch next weekend so I'd like to know how bad it was. Thanks for our beta man.


We got a late start. So take this beta with that in mind. I think that if you did Lamb's Slide in the dark, then got to Broadway right at sunlight, you would have a MUCH better time.

I climbed with both of my cobras, which worked well mostly because the surface area of my fists buried six inches into the snow helped. Crampons/boots went in about 3/4 of the way, and then my steps slid a few inches about half the time. The Notch couloir is worth the effort though, even in sloppy conditions, it was the coolest place to do a snow climb that I've ever experienced.

  • even early in the AM, don't bring ice screws if you want to protect the snow section (as per the Mtn Project description. It's way earlier than the conditions they're describing) Either bring a picket or two, or just stick to a meager rock rack.

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By Taylor-B.
From CO & AK
Apr 27, 2014
Mt. Churchill, University Range
Thanks Dank for going up there and checking out the Notch!

It's been variable travel up here in Summit for the past week. The dust layer and the wind slab have been reactive on North facing aspects, especially when it heats up. I climbed the Inwood Arete on Quandary a few days ago and it was firm snow travel with fun snice. On 4-22 I witnessed a close call in the Quadary Couloir, as a skier triggered a wet slab and went for a bit of a ride before escaping. I tried to up load some photos on the CAIC, but it didn't seem to work. I would be stoked to get some photos to the guys from Quandary if any one knows them?:)

Quandary Couloir avalanche.
Quandary Couloir avalanche.



Gold Miner's Daughter, North Face Quandary with some wind slab.
Gold Miner's Daughter, North Face Quandary with some wind slab.

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By Tony T.
From Denver, CO
Apr 28, 2014
Getting up the Great Dihedral on Hallet Peak, RMNP.
Anyone have any thoughts on how the recent wind/snow events have changed the avy forecast? I'm unfortunately solo tomorrow, and I still want to get up something and slide down it on a plank, but I'm not sure how much the conditions changed since Sunday's dump.

Ideally I want to get up Lost Rat on Gray's, but solo that sounds like a bad idea. I might just stick to a ridgeline like Atlantic and stash my board along the ridge when the snow thins out, but still ride something down.

Also, I've heard Audubon might be a good option, but I've never even been up to Brainard Lake.

Thoughts?

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By J1.
From Boulder, Colorado
Apr 29, 2014
Towliee
Gore Range as of Friday 4/25

Buffalo Mountain.
Buffalo Mountain.


North Face of Buffalo, AKA Elvis Couloir.
North Face of Buffalo, AKA Elvis Couloir.


North Face of Red Peak.
North Face of Red Peak.


Great corn conditions.
Great corn conditions.


Mellow corn cruisers..
Mellow corn cruisers..

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By Rocky_Mtn_High
From Arvada, CO
Apr 29, 2014
Lamb's Slide
Tony T. wrote:
Anyone have any thoughts on how the recent wind/snow events have changed the avy forecast? I'm unfortunately solo tomorrow, and I still want to get up something and slide down it on a plank, but I'm not sure how much the conditions changed since Sunday's dump. Ideally I want to get up Lost Rat on Gray's, but solo that sounds like a bad idea. I might just stick to a ridgeline like Atlantic and stash my board along the ridge when the snow thins out, but still ride something down. Also, I've heard Audubon might be a good option, but I've never even been up to Brainard Lake. Thoughts?


Hi Tony, essentially your question boils down to avy risk assessment -- and btw, my opinion is that the avalanche risk is almost the same regardless of whether or not you solo: you may get lucky if you are caught and buried if 1) your partner did not also get caught 2) your partner is able to find you and dig you out in short order, and 3) you are not injured as a result of trauma; in any case the key to avalanche safety is avoidance, not counting on rescue!

I don't know how much snow fell on Gray's in the last storm, but given that Lost Rat has a north aspect and there was a recent heavy wind event that likely caused significant wind loading on top of fresh snow, I'd be wary (though of course there's only one way to know for sure). After a Spring storm, I generally like to wait for a couple of freeze-thaw cycles before venturing onto suspect terrain, so I think your ridge route idea makes sense for today -- hopefully you found something fun.

WRT Audubon, the gate a couple of miles before Brainard Lake generally does not open until mid-June and makes for a long approach before then (some folks ride in via mountain bike on mostly clear roads a month or so prior).

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By Brown Guy
From Lafayette, CO
May 1, 2014
Rocky_Mtn_High wrote:
No ice yet, but plenty of spicy mixed steps -- one after another -- to hold your attention.


Thanks for the beta... could you please elaborate a bit more? As in pretty much all snow except for some rock - i.e. limited rock rack with no ice gear? or no gear at all? Considering the route for this weekend and am wondering if I could swing it without rope.

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By The Blueprint Part Dank
From FEMA Region VIII
May 1, 2014
Harbaugh sucks
Brown Guy wrote:
Thanks for the beta... could you please elaborate a bit more? As in pretty much all snow except for some rock - i.e. limited rock rack with no ice gear? or no gear at all? Considering the route for this weekend and am wondering if I could swing it without rope.


I didn't climb Martha's, but based on my experience this past weekend on the notch, I would say that you're talking snow, then snow covered rock, definitely no ice pro

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By Kevin Nicastro
From Denver, Co
May 3, 2014
Anyone know the conditions of Dead Dog on Torreys? Thinking of hitting it tomorrow (Sunday).

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By LawHous
From Colorado Springs, CO
May 4, 2014
Post climb celebration drinks with a sweet line in the background
Hit Dreamweaver on Friday 5/2 and experienced pretty good conditions. Certainly no ice but the snow was consolidated with a few sections of heroish snow.

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By Dylan Cousins
May 4, 2014
Kevin Nicastro wrote:
Anyone know the conditions of Dead Dog on Torreys? Thinking of hitting it tomorrow (Sunday).


Was good two weeks ago. Much different now after the storm from last weekend. Skied the Emperor on Saturday which was nice. The dog looked quite loaded and I would not have skied it on Saturday. Give it a few more days.

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By Dan Vinson
May 4, 2014
How has Indian Peaks been?

I'm relatively new to snow/ice and want to start off mellow and work up from there. Any places to start are much appreciated!

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By ixf729
From Boulder, CO
May 4, 2014
Climbed Martha this Saturday. Good snow with ice on the last 3 steps. A really fun day!

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By Mark E Dixon
From Sprezzatura, Someday
May 4, 2014
At the BRC
Anybody been on or near Dragontail lately? Hoping to take the kids up there next weekend.

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By Eric Klammer
From Boulder, CO
May 4, 2014
Heading up the best pitches of the route. Perfect rock at a nice relaxed angle!
Went up Dragontail early Saturday. Fun but not great, as there were still quite a few sections of less than consolidated snow. Topped out a little before 7 and it was already getting pretty warm as well, get up it early!

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