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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Oct 2003
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    CO
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    5,017

    Cool TR: SW Couloir, Peak V, Gore Range, 4.8.06

    TR: SW Couloir, Peak “V”, Gore Range, 4.8.06
    Kya, iskibc, mtnbikerskierchick





    ”In my opinion, the two most rugged mountain ranges in Colorado are the Gore Range northwest of Dillon Reservoir and the Needles Range in the remote San Juan Mountains.” -John Fielder-famous Colorado Landscape photographer.

    Peak "U", morning light:




    The Gore Range has some of the most densely packed, rugged unnamed peaks, and saw-toothed ridges in all of Colorado. It has more than 50 peaks above 12,000’, in which most all of them consist of high points along consistently steep ridges. In terms of square mileage, the Gore is relatively small compared to some of the other big mountain ranges in the state. However, the steep valley walls, pyramid-shaped summits, and glaciated basins make it look and feel like it goes on forever. Travel within the Gore Range is some of the most difficult in the state as well. There is no “easy” way into the Gore. There are only a handful of named summits, in which most of them are named after letters in the alphabet. In 2002, there was still one peak in the Gore that had yet to be climbed. On August 25, 2002, Joe Kramarsic and two other mountaineering partners made the first ascent of Peak “T” (12,640’). There are many routes and descents up for the taking in the Gore. All it takes is a little determination and desire. Most of the other peaks in the range had been climbed in the 1930s and 1940s, with some of the tougher to reach peaks not being scaled until the 1970s and early ‘80s.

    East Face of Peak "V":



    The Gore in the winter reminds me of terrain one would come across in AK. Big, sharp peaks piercing straight up into the sky, with spines and flutes filing down the steep faces. It’s a beautiful place to be in the winter. I have yet to come across another set of tracks or people for that matter while ski touring in the Gore. Solitude and beauty are the two words that best describe this mountain range.

    With my obsession of this mountain range, I’ve decided to dedicate a large chunk of time this spring and summer to skiing lines deep into the Gore. There is absolutely nothing out there in terms of documentation about ski mountaineering the Gore. I know there’s a core group of individuals who do a lot of skiing back in the Gore, but there really isn’t anything in terms of beta about this magical mountain range. My plan is to spend a bunch of time back there for the next couple of years and possibly put something together for others to use. It’s amazing how the range goes unnoticed and untracked since it sits right next door to the mega resort of Vail, and lies within a stones throw from Summit County.

    The last two ski trips I’ve been 0-2 in terms of reaching the intended goal. There’s nothing wrong with failure, as it is a great learning tool, however it is nice to taste success every once in a while. I didn’t let the lack of success get to me, so I planned for another big goal with the hopes that the third time would be a charm. I’ve been looking at a couloir off Peak “V” all season, and have been waiting for the perfect opportunity to come up. I knew it would take perfect weather, a solid set of partners, and a little bit of luck in order for this mission to be successful. I went over the plan with Kya and mtnbikerskierchick earlier in the week. They were game and so we made the final arrangements to give ‘er a go.

    Heading up the narrow Pitkin Lake drainage:




    The peak lies in the very back end of the Pitkin Lake drainage. It’s a little over 5 miles in to the basin and 5,000’ vert up to the summit from the trailhead. We met up at the trailhead around 4 AM to a starlit nightscape and a slight cool breeze. We skinned up along the river through the narrow and steep walled valley until we reached Pitkin Lake.

    Looking over towards Peak "X" and Mt. Solitude:




    The transition from night to morning was fabulous as we made good time up through the valley. Some of the most beautiful sights I have seen a long while.

    Leaving one horizon for another:







    It’s amazing how still and quiet it is back there. Of course that was until we got buzzed by a low flying helio in the lower part of the basin.

    Lower Pitkin basin:



    Kya and mtnbikerskierchick skinning:




    We continued to climb at a good clip, gawking in every which direction at the surrounding terrain, until we came to the base of the couloir. The sun and heat from the day before had sloughed some of the new snow down the couloir.

    Taking a much needed break:

    Last edited by iskibc; 04-10-2006 at 10:55 PM.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Oct 2003
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    CO
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    Smile

    It was still cold from the night before and the snow had set up quite well for us to continue skinning up the couloir. About 14” of new snow had fallen the morning before, but had already bonded and settled very well with the old snow. Despite the mre snow being a bit heavy and deep, I wasn’t too worried about our climb up the couloir. There were many safe zones along the way to rest and seek protection from the exposure. No signs of slab releases or deep instabilities within the surrounding area. The biggest concern was mostly wet releases from rock bands in and around the couloir.

    Starting to climb:



    mtnbikerskierchick zig-zagging up the coulie:




    Up until this point the going was fairly easy and straightforward. Once we started our boot pack up the couloir things got quite challenging. We climbed up thigh-waist deep snow the entire 1,800’ vertical of the couloir making the climb much more challenging and frustrating. We stuck close to a rocky spine splitting the two couloirs to play it safe.

    Up, up, up, up....:







    After getting frustrated with the deep snow, I decided it would be much easier to just climb up the rock spine.






    About half-way up the couloir:




    "Are we there yet?":




    It took us a lot longer than expected, but we managed to reach the summit shortly after noon. The views were absolutely amazing from the summit ridge. The ridge itself was no more than several feet wide, with lot’s of exposure on all sides. The summit is an almost perfectly shaped pyramid.


    Oh the lines...:






    View looking out towars Vail Valley and Sawatch mountains:





    We got some energy back by eating and refueling and then made our descent. I dropped into the couloir first and found the conditions somewhat challenging. The snow was deep, but thick and soupy, making it difficult to make quick turns with tired legs.

    iski:







    Nothing like high altitude pow on a warm day:







    mtnbikerskierchick ripping a nice line from the summit:

    Dropping in:













    Once we got further down the snow actually became fun as it had a nice bouncy/springy feel to it. The descent was great.










    We cruised down to the lake and then began our skate back down the valley to the trailhead. What an amazing day spent with some amazing friends. Kya was a trooper and sucked it up despite battling some sort of bug. Major props for sticking with it Mark! I never knew one could vomit in the color of day glo. This day got me more psyched to spend some time in the Gore. Can’t wait until next time…
    Last edited by iskibc; 04-10-2006 at 10:51 PM.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Oct 2003
    Location
    SE Alaska
    Posts
    11,704
    Stunning mtns, beautiful line, bluebird day. Can you beat that?

  4. #4
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    Oct 2004
    Location
    Boulder, CO
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    2,141
    Nice work.

  5. #5
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    Oct 2003
    Location
    Jackson
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    1,539

    Thumbs up

    Very well done!

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Mar 2006
    Location
    Brooklyn, NY
    Posts
    312
    Wow, great pics and that mountain range looks like a lot of fun.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Nov 2004
    Location
    Eagle, CO
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    2,237
    Those mountains are simply amazing. I feel like they let me play, but not without a little bit of sacrifice. Pretty much a perfect day, until the puke-age. But at least I didn't do it in front of the Gore . I learned I need to eat big for a big day.

    Can't wait to get back in there for another round. Total sickness

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Nov 2002
    Location
    Powpow New Guinea
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    2,990

    Thumbs up

    Right on! Gotta love the remoteness of the Gore next to it's overpopulated neighbors.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Oct 2003
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    Central Valley
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    2,910
    Sounds like an awesome day. Way to get it done guys and girl.

    This shot is amazing:


  10. #10
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    Nov 2005
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    Chamonix
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    SWEET!

    ("The message you have entered is too short. Please lengthen your message to at least eight characters.")

    SWEEEEEEEEEEET!

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Nov 2003
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    high and dry
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    2,253

    Thumbs up

    Wow! Very cool stuff.

  12. #12
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    Nov 2005
    Location
    Indy
    Posts
    646
    Nicey nice.

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Feb 2004
    Location
    208 State
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    1,647
    what a beautiful part of the world...

    great TR as usual...

    it's amazing how much you guys and girl get out....what do you do again that lets you have that much time? Man, I need to find a different job in the winter so I can go explore the places I've dreamed about lines while hiking in the summer...

  14. #14
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    Oct 2003
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    Van City and Whistler
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    1,921
    That's what dreams are made of.

  15. #15
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    Jul 2004
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    R.O.C.
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    4,043
    Nice D,
    but where's the customary alpenglow sunrise shot!
    Calmer than you dude

  16. #16
    Join Date
    May 2004
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    Colorado Cartel HQ
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    15,997
    Killer pics kids!


    D, you know I don't live for hiking, but I'll definitely be getting back there this Summer. The Gore rulz.
    Watch the seventh episode of
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    'Karma' is an Eastern religious concept which views all human dramas as the will of God as opposed to present - and past - life actions.

  17. #17
    Join Date
    Mar 2004
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    Second star to the right and straight on till morning
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    2,211

    Not out of the ordinary: solid work

    Damn, dude, NICE pictures. What are you shooting with?

    And serious day. Very well done. Great TR. Just good all-around.
    Days on snow 06-07: 3
    Days behind a boat summer 2006: 24

    "Coming here and asking whether you need wider skis is like turning up at the Neverland Ranch and asking Michael if he'd like to come to Tampa with the kids" -bad roo.

  18. #18
    Join Date
    Nov 2002
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    Eagle River Alaska
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    10,780
    awesome pics looks like fun
    Its not that I suck at spelling, its that I just don't care

  19. #19
    Join Date
    Sep 2001
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    Alco-Hall of Fame
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    3,098
    HA! I was wondering what you got up to over the weekend. Solid.
    "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

  20. #20
    Join Date
    Apr 2005
    Location
    A LSD Steakhouse somewhere in the Wasatch
    Posts
    9,430
    Another Stellerly Epic TR
    FKNA Thanks
    "When the child was a child it waited patiently for the first snow and it still does"- Van "The Man" Morrison
    "I find I have already had my reward, in the doing of the thing" - Buzz Holmstrom
    "THIS IS WHAT WE DO"-AML -
    ski on in eternal peace

  21. #21
    Join Date
    Mar 2004
    Location
    Sydney Australia
    Posts
    122
    that's awesome, great TR!

  22. #22
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    Jan 2005
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    Carson/Tahoe area
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    40
    Wow thanks for the amazing photo essay awesome pics.
    Squirrel

  23. #23
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    May 2005
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    3,997
    Very Beautiful! Great job all.

  24. #24
    Join Date
    May 2004
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    Hakuba
    Posts
    893
    tis the season for spring touring nice shots

  25. #25
    Join Date
    Nov 2005
    Location
    Where the Butte is Crested
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    3,339
    It was a blast to hike and ski Peak V this weekend. The mountains in that range are fantastically beautiful. I didn't feel like I was in Colorado at all. Like iski and Kya, I can't wait to get back for more. Usually when I skin for long distances, I get into the "zone". But that morning it was impossible not to be distracted by gazing up at the beautiful mountains and just keep picking out sweet lines. "Oh, I want to ski that, and that, and that, and that...." Lines EVERYWHERE to be had!

    Kya and Dave, great job at taking pics! Thanks!
    -
    14erskiers.com

    "Don't be afraid of the spaces between your dreams and reality. If you can dream it, you can make it so." - Belva Davis

    "There are only two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle"--Albert Einstein

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