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  1. #1
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    Mar 2007
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    TR: Atlantic Peak, 13,841', the Bermuda Triangle - 4/28/07

    TR: Atlantic Peak, 13,841’ – The Bermuda Triangle

    Soundtrack for those playing along (based upon what was running through my head):
    Below 13,400’: Theme song from the Sopranos (Woke up this mornin’, got yourself a gun…)
    Above 13,400’: Idiots Rule by Jane’s Addiction
    While Skiing: silence


    Stapled to the wall of my bedroom is a list of every peak I’ve tried to climb but failed to summit. It’s my revenge list. Every morning I glare at it and take a moment to personally curse every peak. And when conditions look good, I go forth with vigor to surmount them and cockily stride about the summit mocking the peak as if to say “I rule you”. Atlantic Peak was high on my revenge list following an unsuccessful bid last November. Like practically every other ski mountaineer in the great state of Colorado, I saw a beautiful window of opportunity on Saturday, so I took it.

    I left Golden around 4:45AM. I lazily drove up I-70 listening to the auditory LSD trip that is the Coast-to-Coast AM radio program. The evening’s special theme was a “Nuts” call-in line, specially devoted to crazy people.

    Host: “Chuck, you’re on the air.”
    Caller: “George, this is Chuck. I have multiple personality disorder. But mostly I’m a bear. Ha, ha, ha! I’m a bear!!”
    Host: “Okay Chuck….anything else you’d like to say to us.”
    Caller: “Well, I’m a bear! Ha ha!” (silence)
    Host: “I think we lost Chuck.”

    It was going to be a good day.


    Jacque Peak basking in early morning light

    I was at the Mayflower Gulch trailhead and skinning by 6:15. Based upon its firmness the snow had obviously seen plenty of sun the day before, so I decided to head straight for Atlantic’s west ridge rather than take the less avy-exposed route over Mayflower Hill. Within an hour I was above treeline on the shoulder of the ridge east of Pacific Creek. With full southern exposure and freezing nighttime temperatures, the snow had set up like concrete. As the pitch steepened, I cursed my lack of ski crampons. I eventually flailed my way into a talus field where I removed my skis and began the 1800’ bootpack to the summit.



    After an initial steep pitch, the west ridge became pure fun. At several points it was a knife edge of snow with steep, exposed snowfields on either side. But mostly, it was a straightforward bootpack through surprisingly soft snow. By 13400’, I became convinced that any lines leading off the summit would require lame billy-goating through poorly-covered talus, so I abandoned my skis at the top of a mouth-watering chute. I pushed on for another half hour of steeper climbing until finally topping out. At 9:45, I stood atop the sun-soaked summit, dancing merrily and giving Atlantic the middle finger.


    The west ridge from the summit

    Fletcher, looking pretty

    I spent a leisurely, warm, windless 15 minutes atop Atlantic enjoying the views of other potential projects, but mostly enjoying beef jerky and a chocolate bar. With the air temp warming up, I felt it was time to get back down to my skis where my reward awaited me. After ten minutes of pondering why I had a song stuck in my head that I didn’t like and hadn’t listened to in ages, I was back at my skis and ready to go.

    I call the line the Bermuda Triangle because I don’t know its real name. But it fits because it has a very wide starting zone but becomes progressively narrower as it leads to a series of chokes through a cliff band. From above, the line had an obvious convex roll at its top that dumped out into a fairly uniform 35 degree pitch. Much lower down, the slope rolled over out of sight as cliff bands converged.


    The Bermuda Triangle, with Pacific Creek Gulch below

    I made a quick ski cut across the initial 45 degree convexity and pulled up in a talus field at the side. The snow felt solid and appeared to be a mixture of manageable wind crust and creamy wind-buffed powder. Feeling content, I dropped in and enjoyed late-April powder turns for a few hundred feet. I realized that the skier’s left side of the face consisted of a staircase of rollovers that averaged out to 35 degrees but offered plenty of steeper turns in between – steep enough that I was consistently traversing out to avoid my sluff. By trial and error, I found that skier’s right was crusty so inevitably I kept making my way back left. To wit –


    That, my friends, is how you put your signature on a mountain.

    My finest work. No guilt though, it's not like I needed to share the snow with anyone. As rockbands tightened inward from both sides, the pitch began to steepen. Unfortunately, the wind buff turned to tail-grabbing crust at this point and each turn became a small battle. Being alone and feeling the pull of jagged cliff bands at my ankles, I decided to take the most conservative possible line through the crusty chokes. After a delicate kick turn, I zipped through the crux and emerged onto the apron where the snow became super fast, springy powder. I escaped the Bermuda Triangle unscathed, albeit slightly humbled by snow conditions in the crux.

    From there it was a leisurely ski and skate back to Mayflower Gulch through damn near every possible snow condition. Five hours and fifteen minutes after I began, I was back at my car chugging Gatorade.

    And by typing “Gatorade,” I’ve learned that Microsoft Word automatically capitalizes the G. But no automatic trademark symbol after it? God forbid I infringe upon a copyright.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Oct 2006
    Location
    Zurich, Switzerland
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    1,316
    Good effort!

    However please not so much cursing, middle finger towards mountains and such.
    It might come back to hunt you. Mother nature will always be stronger.
    Last edited by IridePow; 05-01-2007 at 03:25 PM.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Apr 2006
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    1,794
    nice work.
    Ride Fast, Live slow.

    We're mountain people. This is what we do, this is how we live. -D.C.

  4. #4
    Join Date
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    funland
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    you are an excellent writer. as far as pictures go, brevity is the soul of wit, and the ones you posted were enough to complete any gaps in the picture that your words didn't paint. FKNA!

  5. #5
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    Mar 2007
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lone Star View Post
    you are an excellent writer. as far as pictures go, brevity is the soul of wit, and the ones you posted were enough to complete any gaps in the picture that your words didn't paint. FKNA!
    I'm flattered, but I must confess that I'm a highly-trained engineer which, by definition, means I have a tenuous grasp on the English language and an even worse ability to spell what words I do know.

  6. #6
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    I can relate, I was forced to drop out of Computer Science after getting an A on an English paper.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
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    evergreen
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    240
    nice!, I hope the snow is still that good this weekend. I doubt it though, is any of this rain amounting to snow in the high country?

  8. #8
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    Dec 2003
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    CAW!
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    CAW!

    CAW! CAW!! CAW!!!
    CAW!

  9. #9
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    Mar 2004
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    Mammoth/Santa Barbara
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    Nice work. What song was stuck in your head?

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Feb 2005
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    North Vancouver/Whistler
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    11,307
    that is a heck of a writeup. I don't dare flip middle fingers to any mountain as they have a habit of kicking one's ass

  11. #11
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    Mar 2007
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    Quote Originally Posted by LeeLau View Post
    that is a heck of a writeup. I don't dare flip middle fingers to any mountain as they have a habit of kicking one's ass
    I like to think that it was a loving, appreciative middle-finger like the kind you'd give a friend who's busting your stones.

    Like this

    Not this

  12. #12
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    Oct 2006
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    bump

    1234

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