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05-18-2006, 04:29 PM #1
TR: Red Peak, 13,189', Gore Range 5.16.06
The first rays of light break the grasp of darkness and night,
Colors come alive as the warm morning sun creeps out of its temporary coma,
Like a flip of a switch, night turns into day and life suddenly moves again,
The sun peaks over the distant eastern sky as the moon slips behind the distant western horizon.
Red Peak flanks the southern border of the Gore Range at 13,189í. Red Peak and Buffalo Mountain are the first peaks thousands of travelers see when they come out of the Eisenhower Tunnel heading westbound on I-70. Red Peak is massive and has just about everything when it comes to terrain.
Big rolling snowfields on its eastern face, large striated pinnacles piercing the skyline on its southern end, and steep snow-filled couloirs dumping into the north willow creek drainage.
There are two summits to Red Peak, with the west summit being the true summit. The approach to Red Peak is very typical of your usual Gore Range experience. Rough, rugged, dense, and lotís of bushwhacking. Although itís not as difficult as some of the more remote Gore summits, itís definitely no walk in the park. Much like the rest of the Gore, thereís no defined trail to the summit of Red Peak. The Gore Trail winds up into the South Willow Creek drainage, but quickly becomes faint and pretty much non-existent. The best tools one could take on a Gore trip would be a GPS and lots of patience. No trip to the Gore would be complete without a bunch of tree branches stuck in your jacket hood or several scrapes on your forearms from busting through dense brush. Thereís nothing straightforward when it comes to climbing a peak in the gore. The Gore is for those seeking adventure and exploration.
The past week has brought unseasonably warm temperatures and very little moisture to the Colorado mountains. Luckily most locations above 10K got a decent freeze at night, so skiing some high peaks werenít out of the question. The name of the game this week is EARLY. Get up early, get down early.
I picked up SheRa in Dillon and then we met GeoMatt at the Buffalo Cabin trailhead in Silverthorne. At 4:30 AM, the temperature at the trailhead was 28 degrees under a clear sky. We hiked up the trail about a ľ mile before running into snow. Shortly after we were skinning through the dense forest up the Gore Trail. We made good time skinning over a solid and smooth crust layer along the eastern flanks of Buffalo Mountain. This mountain is known for its gargantuan slide paths coming down on all aspects. We crossed several as we circled around the mountain. Most of these are 30-50 year paths that ran a few thousand feet and spread to about 100 yards across. Impressive to say the least.
We reached the base of the Silver Couloir sometime around sunrise. Many tracks filled the couloir and it looked to be in good shape from top to bottom. Once past the Silver couloir the trail disappeared and we were left with a fun bushwhack up the South Willow Creek drainage to the base of Red Peak.
Along the way we passed some cool looking waterfalls and had to negotiate a couple of river crossings.
A bit of winter mixed with spring:
I love the start of spring, as the snow melts and the scent of the trees and earth fills the air. In another month weíll see wildflowers starting to bloom and the start of summer. We continued to skin up the drainage until we reached the entrance to the SE basin of Red Peak. The basin is characterized as a large slide path that runs full length from the summit down to the drainage. A good 2,600í. We began to switchback up the slide path and into the basin at a good clip. The snow was still smooth and firm as we cruised up the slope. When we reached the upper basin the large pinnacles separating the east summit from the west summit came into view.
There are ski lines within these jagged rock formations, but it looked super bumpy and ravaged from the recent wet slide activity. We decided to stick with our original route and go for the south facing slopes off the summit.
The rest of the climb was fairly easy and painless. The morning heated up rather quickly and the snow began itís transformation from a rock solid slab to perfect spring corn. I reached the summit sometime around 9:45AM to a bluebird sky and no wind.
Thorne Peak and Willow Peak to the north:
It was yet another perfect day to hang out on top of a summit.
SheRa and GeoMatt skinning up the final pitch:
SheRa and GeoMatt were still on the lower ridge and topped out around 10:00AM.
SheRa on the final climb with Summit County and Lake Dillon in the distance:
We admired the views of the surrounding mountains and ate some breakfast before making our way down.
"I want it all!!":
View of Holy Cross:
GeoMatt nearing the summit:
We didnít want to wait too long as the sun was heating up the snow rather quickly. I dropped in first and was amazed by the quality of the snow. Perfect corn snow made for some fun GS turns down the upper face.
SheRa making some nice turns:
GeoMatt linking tele turns:
The snow stayed like this for most of the descent until we reached the flats down in the South Willow Creek drainage. Once into the trees we hit a lot of rotten and unconsolidated snow. We got onto the north facing side of the drainage and found much better snow. The climb out wasnít all that bad. GPS definitely makes a big difference in thick woods. Once past the Silver couloir we decided to follow the aqueduct for part of the way out. Iíve never had a pleasant experience taking the aqueduct out, as itís filled with hundreds of downed trees and stumps. On top of that the snow wasnít continuous which made things a tad bit more difficult. Excellent day though. The Gore had served us well once again, and I canít wait to come back for more.
05-18-2006, 04:34 PM #2out
- Join Date
- Oct 2005
very nice. keep after those goods!
but shouldn't you be out buying some "big mountian skis"?
05-18-2006, 04:37 PM #3
Great write up as usual. I had the same experience coming out of that aqueduct after Buffalo a few years ago, it seemed like every 5 feet my skis were getting caught on a new branch or I was walking around/over/under a downed tree. It's amazing how remote that area is though considering its location.
05-18-2006, 04:44 PM #4
Sweet! When I was on Buffalo last week, the only picture I took was of lines on Red. Way to get it!I always hate it when there is a bunch of hype for a storm. I also don't like how so many areas are predicting big totals. - alabamaskier
05-18-2006, 05:02 PM #5
Sweet. Talk about a blast from the past. I skied the south face of Red as my first bc in colorado in 93. Thanks for the trip down memory lane. Nice pics
05-18-2006, 05:03 PM #6
Red Mtn sure looks red in the morning light! Looks like a beautiful day. Thanks for the pics of all the sick lines. Makes me hungry for more!-
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05-18-2006, 05:08 PM #7
that looks like some fantabulous corn chowdah! (or corn powdah!)
05-18-2006, 05:09 PM #8
Since Marshal's not here to say it, a little poo just slipped out!
Iski, we need to open up a can of snowskate steeze out there in the Gore!Chocolate? This is doodoo, BABY!
05-18-2006, 05:20 PM #9
Nice pics! Got to love the mid-may bluebird tours...feel like you're getting away with something. Thanks for sharing, there are some real gems in there...To have a great adventure and survive requires good judgment. Good judgment comes from experience. And experience, of course, is the result of poor judgment. -Geoff Tabin
05-18-2006, 08:01 PM #10
Looks like your snow is holding well.
05-18-2006, 09:38 PM #11
nice work dave
skied that about three weeks ago, it is amazing how much the warm weather has melted stuff out. You are right about the routefinding, our gps did not work well in the woods and ended up on a never ending slog. Good to see you got it in nice conditions, we ended up having to ski down in total whiteout. I am hoping to do it again and pick a better route next time.If carrots got you drunk; rabbits would be fucked up.
- Mitch Hedberg
05-18-2006, 10:01 PM #12sucks on the internet
- Join Date
- Feb 2004
Must have been a sweat day, nice!
05-18-2006, 10:20 PM #13Originally Posted by El Kabong
Did you use the same approach? I know you can use another approach from the other side of Buffalo Mountain, which brings you over Red Buffalo Pass. That way just seems longer, and you have to climb back up over the pass to get out.
We need to get out and ski sometime soon. Let me know. I'm free most days.
05-18-2006, 10:24 PM #14
yeah, i was thinking the same thing about going over red buffalo, it might be longer but minus the bushwacking in the end it could be easier. Maybe doing that and then having a shuttle waiting in wildernest would be the best?If carrots got you drunk; rabbits would be fucked up.
- Mitch Hedberg
05-19-2006, 06:00 AM #15Typhoid Ryan - the Vector
- Join Date
- Feb 2004
I think I would like to try to keep up with Iski.
05-19-2006, 06:03 AM #16Originally Posted by iskibc
I knew this photo would be sweet. Make a nice "Welcome to Summit County" poster. Is the horizon tilted?
Originally Posted by iskibc
Those were some beautiful sweet corn turns. So buttery. I'll get in for scouting pics of Keller as soon as I can. And I'll visit Liz tomorrow for a comp for you.
I'm really enjoying hiking with you and taking ski pictures.
Last edited by SheRa; 05-19-2006 at 06:50 AM.
05-19-2006, 06:07 AM #17Originally Posted by shmerham
05-19-2006, 08:36 AM #18
I'm a little confused about you guy's getting harshed on the a-duct though. It has never seemed to be all that trying the times I've skied the silver.
Are you parking at the very top of the road or somewhere lower? B/C at some point and it isn't particularily far past the silver you turn up into the forest, foresaking the duct (there's a blaze on a tree IIRC)."It is not the result that counts! It is not the result but the spirit! Not what - but how. Not what has been attained - but at what price.
- A. Solzhenitsyn
05-19-2006, 08:54 AM #19
Inspiring as always, I think I'll hit that this afternoon.
05-19-2006, 08:58 AM #20Originally Posted by lemon boy
05-19-2006, 09:22 AM #21Originally Posted by IreallyliketoskiWe hold daggers in the side of the Moon...
05-19-2006, 09:50 AM #22
I always keep my eyes peeled b/c by that time I'm ready for a motherfucking BEER and know the fastest way to da truck is that turnoff"It is not the result that counts! It is not the result but the spirit! Not what - but how. Not what has been attained - but at what price.
- A. Solzhenitsyn
05-19-2006, 09:53 AM #23Registered User
- Join Date
- May 2005
Ahhh, nothin' like bushwackin' in The Gore. Learned my lesson many years ago about trying to make short-cuts there... doesn't work.
Great TR thank you!
Originally Posted by SheRa
05-19-2006, 10:14 AM #24
Oh yeah....this looks like butahh!!!
Keep em coming iski!so many mountains...so little time
05-19-2006, 10:23 AM #25Originally Posted by lemon boy
Yeah, I'm the same way. That's why I went out and bought a GPS, so I could make it back to the truck a lot faster for BEER-thirty.
Actually, that day I had forgotten the beer, so when I made it back to the parking lot I had some time to spare, so I bolted down to the closest liquor mart in silverthorne and picked up a twelvie. Made it back in time to throw a couple back and wait for SheRa and Matt to arrive. Turns out they ended up in someone's backyard way the heck down in wildernest and had to hitch a ride back up to the TH.