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06-23-2011, 08:05 PM #1
TR: Double Feature: Vader Coulour (south arapaho) 6-22-11 and Coon Hill 6-23-11
Yesterday, Jeff (adrenalated) and I set out to ski the Vader Couloir on South Arapahoe Peak. This is a line to the lookers left of Skywalker Couloir. It is a breath of fresh air to get out of the Loveland Pass area that I am so familiar with at this point, and into some new territory (the Indian Peaks Wilderness).
The Vader couloir is not an easy line, and there is some major route finding involved. Some appealing looking routes will get you cliffed out. Our only safe option was to boot up the thing to ensure a safe route down. Here is a picture of the line taken in May 2005 by Dave Bahr. I had to use his pic because we never got a good view of the line.
We left the trailhead at 6:00 thinking it would be a 4 hour approach, or 5 tops. Boy were we wrong! 2 days earlier it had snowed about 6". After it was too steep to skin, we were treated to punchy snow all the way up the couloir. Sometimes, we would sink all the way up to our knees after taking a step. Needless to say, It was slow going. We topped out at around 12:00, a mere 6 hours after we left the car.
jeff nearing the top of the couloir:
We spent very little time at the top of the couloir, and didn't even have time to gain the true summit of South Arapaho. The sun heats rock quickly in the mornings. Because there is so much rock on this line (along with its partial southern aspect), we needed to get down quick to avoid wet slide activity of the lower layers in the snowpack. We already knew that the top layer of new snow would be sloughing.
Jeff skiing near the top:
We were skiing very cautiously from safe zone to safe zone. The top layer was sloughing as expected. Every couple of turns, we had to stop and wait for the slough to pass. Roller balls were forming; some of them were very large. This top layer of snow was saturated and heavy. It would have been bad news to get caught up, as the slough could send us over sizable cliffs. The moving snow was a little beyond my comfort level, but we were able to manage our slough and we both avoided getting caught up in it.
Another skiing shot of Jeff on the first half of the line:
In the middle of the line, there was a small section that was melted out that we had to downclimb.
Jeff Making his way to the apron:
All in all, a fun day and a sweet line. Awesome getting out with you Jeff!
I needed a nice short day today because I was so worn out from yesterday. Andi (Baxter) just got back from a semester is Germany and hasn't been skiing much this year, so we decided to ski Coon Hill. Coon Hill is a small, but prominent mountain just west of the Eisenhower tunnel. It involves about a 2 mile skin and only about 1200 vert. It was a good choice for the day.
We met at the west portal of the Eisenhower Tunnel at 7:30 and we were hiking by 8:00
Coon Hill comes into view:
photo taken to the west from the saddle. Mount of the Holy Cross is visible on the right side of this picture with the prominent Cross Couloir visible across it. Apparently, this mountain used to be a pilgrimage site for many Christians due to the prominent cross across it. It is definitely a cool line that I would love to ski one day.
Tenmile range, Quandary, and Breckenridge
Grays and Torrey's
We summited at 10:00 AM, about 2 hours after we started. Andi at the top with Grays and Torrey's
Ready to ski!
We skied the east face, the top was already perfect corn when we dropped in at 10:15. It was past prime lower down, but still fun!
Near the bottom:
Its definitely been a fun couple of days.
06-24-2011, 12:27 AM #2