Monday, May 7, 2012

Grizzly Peak - 5.4.2012

After spending Thursday packing my truck in CB, I met Grete and Brennan around midnight in Keytsone with the plan of skiing Loveland Pass's Grizzly Peak the next day. Last time I skied Grizzly, we followed the ridgeline from the top of Loveland Pass, although this involves less vertical, it involves LOTS more horizontal in the wind.

Given the forecast for high winds, we decided to ascend Grizzly from the upper parking lot at Arapahoe Basin with the goal of skiing Grizzly's northeast couloir. At first the route was quite frustrating: breakable snow, open streams, willows, and steep dirt banks. But after a 30 minutes we were making quick progress across hard spring snow.

The snow quickly became steeper as we approached Grizzly, leading to some very efficient climbing.


Two hours after leaving the parking lot we were above Grizzly's northwest saddle, in the middle of strong and steady winds.

30 minutes of bootpacking up loosing talus brought us to the summit and beautiful views in every direction. Hagar and Citadel:

Still on the wish list:

With very strong winds at the summit, we ate a quick snack and headed east down the ridgeline towards the top of the line. 


10 minutes of scrambling down the ridgeline brought us to snow which continued essentially to the top of the couloir.

After a quick inspection we found that the top of the couloir was bare, requiring an exposed entrance over the cliffs to the skier's right of the couloir:

Two months ago Andrew suffered a concussion, this was his first time on skis since then, after a moment to collect his thoughts he was ready to drop.

Ethan getting ready to ski for the second time in 15 months:

Unfazed. 

I brought up the rear; reminded that there are few things as fun as focused skiing: everything seems to go silent as the world closes in around you. After the entrance ramp we dropped into the tight granite walls of the couloir proper. Andew:

Ethan:



That was fun!


A short apron brought us to our lunch destination

and the chance to cover our skins with pine needles!

With the sun high overhead we began the skin up Grizzly Gulch back towards Loveland Pass.

I'm always amazed how the rugged terrain of Grizzly Gulch contrasts to the smooth rolls of Loveland Pass.

Still good turns to be had on Grizzly's north face:


After 2 hours of sweltering skinning we were happily perched on top of Cupid with 2000 feet of southwest facing turns down Dave's Wave in front of us.

Brennan enjoys unique turns on the wave:

The snow was...well...thin lower down, but with a little rock, bush, log, and stream skiing we made it to within a three hundred yards of the car.

What a day! This is definitely not the fastest or most efficient way of skiing the Grizzly Couloir, but at the same time, skiing the Grizzly Couloir from Grizzly Gulch makes for a very easy day. We definitely got our exercise! Then again, its an aesthetic and steep line that is worth skiing at least once! That being said, the north face of Grizzly holds a plethora of a steep, unique 1500 vertical foot lines. When I ski these I will probably access them from A-Basin and exit via Dave's Wave.