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Winter Petit Grepon


Original Post
Eliot Augusto · · Boulder, CO · Joined Dec 2013 · Points: 60

Does anyone have any experience on this route and/or the approach in the winter? There is very limited information that I can find on it, and I think it'd be a fun little challenge. Or is there too much snow/ rime?

highaltitudeflatulentexpulsion · · Colorado · Joined Oct 2012 · Points: 35

Ski in. Don't be afraid to aid. I think you could do it. I've never heard of anyone doing it though.

Jcburgart · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Apr 2016 · Points: 15

I have attempted the Saber in February.  I suggest skiing in, however, you will most likely have to put the skis on your back once you hit the scrambling by the summer waterfall. The screefield is a bitch covered in snow and with skis on your back..... but.....

Since the feature is South facing, you will get full sun if you are lucky enough to get a bluebird day. About 500' up on the Saber, the sun gave us 40F weather with minimal snow on the ledges. Just keep an eye on the forecast and don't go on a frigidly forecasted day. Should totally be able to rock climb the whole thing. 

Alton R. · · Boulder, Co · Joined Jan 2010 · Points: 160

Did a ski tour in Chaos Canyon on Saturday. Flotation is highly encouraged to access any/all the cirques. If you slow shoe in, be mindful of any skin track and walk next to it. Always a good idea to get a bearing on Avy conditions as well. Dont think (or truly know if) there are many hazards up to there, but the park was full-on wind loaded Saturday.

garrett knorr · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Feb 2016 · Points: 55

I've only climbed the south face route but the southwest route might be a better bet in the winter. I would expect the east facing side of the petite to hold more snow than the south face because of wind loading in that gully. The southwest route apparently keeps you on the south face for longer. 

Please keep us updated on how it goes. 

Don Ferris · · Eldorado Springs · Joined Nov 2012 · Points: 175

It's totally doable.  The skin up is gorgeous.  I've skinned up to sky pond in the middle of a snow storm and the south face was pretty clear of snow.  With the aspect of the formation I bet you could rock climb it in winter with a weeks worth of sunshine.  It's usually the first and last feature to be climbed every season.

.

The ponds release all sorts of bubbles and as a result you get all these crazy patterns and visuals that freeze into the ice.

Eliot Augusto · · Boulder, CO · Joined Dec 2013 · Points: 60

Oh man, thanks for all the info guys! Definitely some stuff in there that will help, and things I hadn't considered. I will keep you guys updated on any progress and beta, but I am still in the process of convincing someone to join me on my crazy idea. I'm pretty hopeful about it now!


I've only climbed the south face route but the southwest route might be a better bet in the winter. I would expect the east facing side of the petite to hold more snow than the south face because of wind loading in that gully. The southwest route apparently keeps you on the south face for longer. 

Please keep us updated on how it goes. 

I've only done the southwest route in the summer. It was good, and I may have been off route, but there were some spots that would be preeeetty tricky if there were any ice or snow. There is a "roof" that definitely leaves you super exposed, on a #3 BD nut as your only gear, and it was slick in the summer.


@ Don Ferris:

That is just what I was looking for. I couldn't find a picture of the petit in the winter anywhere!


@ Jcburgart:

That sounds like quite a day. The saber put me in my place in August. How was that first 500 feet or so, up to that big "party ledge", in the winter? Did you crampon up for that?

garrett knorr · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Feb 2016 · Points: 55

I've only done the southwest route in the summer. It was good, and I may have been off route, but there were some spots that would be preeeetty tricky if there were any ice or snow. There is a "roof" that definitely leaves you super exposed, on a #3 BD nut as your only gear, and it was slick in the summer.

Well then, an opinion from someone who was climbed both might be in order. It luckily sounds like the crux of both climbs are south facing. You can always change your mind on which route to do day of after seeing the east face.

Don Ferris · · Eldorado Springs · Joined Nov 2012 · Points: 175

garrett knorr wrote:

Well then, an opinion from someone who was climbed both might be in order. It luckily sounds like the crux of both climbs are south facing. You can always change your mind on which route to do day of after seeing the east face.

I've climbed both the South Face and the Southwest Corner routes.  If it were me, I'd opt for the South Face.  That thing is so straight forward, cruiser, and fun and you'd be in the sun during the warmest part of the day; different story with the Southwest Corner which crosses over to the west face a few times.

Nate A · · Estes Park, CO · Joined Mar 2003 · Points: 70

If you hit it right it can be dry, sunny and gloveless free climbing in winter. Unfortunately the wind will be an issue most days.  A partner and I had a sunny and warm winter free ascent of the South Face a few years ago in mid-March.  It was great skiing all the way back to the trailhead!  Make sure to do the rappels and you can almost drop right back into the ski boots/snowshoes and not have to carry additional boots up the route.  Enjoy!!

George Perkins · · The Dungeon, NM · Joined Apr 2006 · Points: 3,155

My friend Josh S. and I climbed the Petit Grepon/S Face in January about 8 years ago.  It was an unforgettable day.  Please forgive the following spray as I attempt to paint a picture of what it was like for you:

We skied in, and did the last bit up to the base in our ski boots.  We had to remove and carry skis only once, but that was because we missed the "fire shortcut trail".  High temps in Estes were about 32, it was sunny and hadn't snowed for a few days prior.  We wore rock shoes and climbed mostly in bare hands but maybe sometimes gloves.  The belay ledges on the 1st and 2nd "Terraces" had a lot of pow on them to wade through and stomp down, but the climb was fairly dry.  I did slip off an icy hold on p1 about 12' up and landed in soft snow at the base. Though most of the climb is in sun, Pitch 7 (I think) had gone into shade by the time we got there and was sketchy, like your hands would start to freeze onto the holds and that pitch didn't have continuous gear placements so you did need to climb; it was really a "hero lead" Josh had on that one.  At least one of the rap stations was covered by snow and we couldnt' find it (neither of us had climbed the route previously so we may have been dummies), so we built a different one and used that.  Recommend bringing 2 pairs of gloves. Saw some bighorn sheep up by Sky Pond, surprised they liked being up there. Pretty cool to be the only ones in Loch Vale all day.

We live in NM and we're no hardmen - at least, not me.

Great climb! Have fun!

Jacqueline Niles · · Unknown Hometown · Joined May 2015 · Points: 325

Oh man, Eliot. Were on the same page. I cant see to get this idea out of my head either..... (Ive been having too much Type 1 fun lately.. ;)). Best of luck to you!



D-Storm · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Jun 2007 · Points: 295

George Perkins wrote:

... Though most of the climb is in sun, Pitch 7 (I think) had gone into shade by the time we got there and was sketchy, like your hands would start to freeze onto the holds and that pitch didn't have continuous gear placements so you did need to climb; it was really a "hero lead" ....

I had the same experience on this pitch in winter many years ago—though only 5.7, the climbing was a bit runout and all the horizontal edges were covered in snow. I wore a thin pair of gloves but my hands numbed out anyway, and I did indeed feel like a "hero" when I reached the sunny belay station just below the summit. That was on our second try. On our first attempt, we hiked in to bivy at Sky Pond on a Friday after work. The trail was mostly packed out, with no need for floatation, but there were occasional snow drifts that required some crawling, particularly on the final step to reach the Pond; I remember swimming through bottomless snow by headlamp, uphill into a strong wind, and I lost my partner in the darkness—I felt so cold and alone yelling his name into the howling gusts, with fat flakes blowing into my eyes! The storm continued through the night and buried our tent. We wallowed through the fresh snow up to the base of the Petite in the morning, but there was no real question about going for the summit in those conditions. That made it all the more glorious when we came back under better circumstances. Good times. Cold fingers.

NathanB · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Oct 2016 · Points: 0

Eliot!

Eliot Augusto · · Boulder, CO · Joined Dec 2013 · Points: 60

NathanB wrote:

Eliot!

Nate!! 


@Jacqueline Niles: If you're interested in doing it send me a PM. Or anyone else for that matter :p

Tim Stich · · Colorado Springs, Colorado · Joined Jan 2001 · Points: 1,470

Jacqueline Niles wrote:

Oh man, Eliot. Were on the same page. I cant see to get this idea out of my head either..... (Ive been having too much Type 1 fun lately.. ;)). Best of luck to you!

Too much type 1 sunny climbing fun? I know, it's hard on the soul.   

Jcburgart · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Apr 2016 · Points: 15

@ eliot - super mild snow when we did the Saber, no crampons, we soloed the first few hundred feet just in approach shoes


Guideline #1: Don't be a jerk.

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