Sunday, January 6, 2013

Schyulkill - 1.1.2013

After two great days in the Steamboat backcountry, Rachel and I headed south to Crested Butte where we met up with our good friends Nick and Frank for a New Year's day tour on Schyulkill. Schyulkill, pronounced sku kel, is a dutch word supposedly meaning "hidden river"... I don't know if that's true, but its still a very unique and cool mountain that I was glad to get on for the first time.

A flat skin up the scenic Slate River valley brought us to the bottom of the climb. Schyulkill, Augusta, Mineral Point, and Purple Mountain:


After two hours of skinning through dark trees we climbed into the beautiful afternoon winter light.


Gothic to the northeast:


Red Lady's Redwell Basin to the south:


Nick and Frank scoping the plethora of amazing terrain towards Scarp Ridge:


Three hours after leaving the parking lot, we were on top of the ridge, experiencing the beautiful phenomena of blue skies and falling snow. To the west, the Ruby Range was still socked in by clouds.

As is far too common in Colorado, depth hoar continues to persist on northern aspects where early season snow has been rotting for the last two months. Fortunately, some southern aspects harbor little of this early season snow; cold weather and mild mid-winter sun has allowed good snow to last on these aspects. So, we dropped off the south side of Schyulkill towards Oh-be-joyful Creek.

Frank going over the edge of the bowling ball:


Moving from one open clearing to the next, we headed for the valley floor.
Photo: Nick Matisse

Rachel:


Nick:


Towards the bottom we ran into this neat ice fall:
Photo: Nick Matisse

Rachel:
Photo: Nick Matisse

This kind of south facing line often isn't an option in the winter. This was a beautiful day on an aspect that we don't often ski.

For me this was a big line: my mid-winter backcountry skiing is generally limited to terrain where the consequences of a slide are low, relying more on terrain selection than understanding of snowpack stability for line selection. Thanks to Frank for taking us out and to Nick for the great pictures! This was a Top 10 day!