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Double dipping Crestone couloirs

PostPosted: Mon May 05, 2014 11:18 pm
by skykilo
It sure is more difficult to get ready and leave town on a trip like this these days! I was a complete mess before packing on Thursday night. Finding headlamps, crampons, being sure to have all those little things, buying palatable food at the store -- it felt like too much. But once we were on the road, everything was as right as rain.

Micah was kind enough to tolerate a departure at a reasonable hour on Friday morning, so we could climb at Penitente then scope the range before making a final plan on what to ski. After having a single carrot for lunch and getting schooled way hard on the ultra classic 5.12c, Los Hermanos de La Penitente, a couple of beers had me feeling loose. That climb is desperate. It probably would not have been on the itinerary had we double-checked the grade.

This view had us convinced that conditions were much better than last year on the northwest side of Crestone Peak.
It's another exciting picture on Ski Sickness
See that enticing sliver of snow? Yeah, let's do it again.

We found a van with a view then had a nap.
It's another exciting picture on Ski Sickness

The approach felt so cruiser! And conditions in the upper basin were good.
It's another exciting picture on Ski Sickness

The climb was in much easier condition. Still not fully skiable, we elected to leave our skis below the first choke/ice bulge.
It's another exciting picture on Ski Sickness

We dealt with less ice and no rock.
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Except for that last little summit crux.
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We quickly climbed down to our skis. The snow was confusingly good -- a mix of alpine windbuffed powder and perfect corn, but somehow never too sloppy or sticky and plenty stable!

First turn.
It's another exciting picture on Ski Sickness

Nice snow.
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So aesthetic.
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Conditions were superb the whole way and we were able to ski to the trail through some wicked terrain on the opposite side of the basin. Micah enjoys a fun little straightline.
It's another exciting picture on Ski Sickness

That might have been my most gratifying day skiing since moving to New Mexico. Content but not done, we had plans for the next day as well.

Crestone Needle is a spectacular experience just like Crestone Peak. The next day found my ski cohort moving a little slower. Despite an earlier departure, we would have been much too late if Sunday were as warm and sunny as Saturday. But it was cloudy in the morning then windy throughout, a blessing in disguise. There were four adventurers on the Needle as we approached, but they were leaving by the time we finished the approach.

The south side of Crestone Needle.
It's another exciting picture on Ski Sickness

Micah finishes the approach through the "Eye of the Needle" feature.
It's another exciting picture on Ski Sickness

One of the earlier parties described the conditions as "bulletproof" but to our great fortune, a mix of intense sunshine and strong wind gusts cooked the snow to perfection for us.

It's another exciting picture on Ski Sickness

It's another exciting picture on Ski Sickness

It's another exciting picture on Ski Sickness

Now how much low pressure is in store?
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That was fun! I really need to go to bed now. Good night!

Re: Double dipping Crestone couloirs

PostPosted: Mon May 05, 2014 11:37 pm
by ryanl
You kind of remind me of a white Richard Sherman.

Nice to see you on skis again!

Re: Double dipping Crestone couloirs

PostPosted: Tue May 06, 2014 8:56 am
by Charlie
:).

Re: Double dipping Crestone couloirs

PostPosted: Tue May 06, 2014 9:46 am
by Diamond Dachshund
12c? WTF. I miss the smell of wilderness.

Re: Double dipping Crestone couloirs

PostPosted: Tue May 06, 2014 10:40 am
by huevón
Yeah WTF, come do some Index "5.11+'s" u sporto! Model Worker, Iron Horse, Japanese Gardens, Natural Log Cabin. I TR'd a couple of those and mini-whipped trying to OS JG. Feels like the first time noobin up 5.8+ on the GNS

Er, good on you go get some! You guys ski good

Re: Double dipping Crestone couloirs

PostPosted: Tue May 06, 2014 10:55 am
by skykilo
Index, schmindex. Come climb some run-out 5.11s in the Sandias at 10,000 ft.

Re: Double dipping Crestone couloirs

PostPosted: Tue May 06, 2014 11:56 am
by teleross
Sandias....mmmmm.....good stuff

Re: Double dipping Crestone couloirs

PostPosted: Tue May 06, 2014 1:01 pm
by huevón
I guess you win, I have no idea what that's like except from your hairball TRs, and I'll take your word for it!

Re: Double dipping Crestone couloirs

PostPosted: Wed May 07, 2014 6:52 am
by EpiKing505
A shot from Penitente!
Not the 12c :0

Re: Double dipping Crestone couloirs

PostPosted: Wed May 07, 2014 7:02 am
by skykilo
What was that rated, Micah, 11b? Penitente does not seem soft to this punter. The arete just to his left is another 5.12c but not the one we climbed.

Re: Double dipping Crestone couloirs

PostPosted: Wed May 07, 2014 7:53 am
by huevón
It's beautiful. I wanna take a road trip

Re: Double dipping Crestone couloirs

PostPosted: Wed May 07, 2014 2:29 pm
by EpiKing505
I think 11b

Re: Double dipping Crestone couloirs

PostPosted: Wed May 07, 2014 7:26 pm
by E_$
looks like a nice little productive "weekend" there, Bleachard Sherman.

that Crestone Pk line looks much more tasty than when we visited it last year--has anyone found it in condition to send from the top--probably would need a five sigma snowpack, huh?

and your deproach looks so much more pleasurable than the trap-crust quicksand we encountered.

i <3 new mexico

Re: Double dipping Crestone couloirs

PostPosted: Wed May 07, 2014 10:26 pm
by EpiKing505
E$p00p the de proach was soooo much better than last year... We managed to ski tasty terrain till we crossed the creek and threw our tennis shoes on.... We made it from the summit to the car in approx 3 hours

Re: Double dipping Crestone couloirs

PostPosted: Thu May 08, 2014 1:49 pm
by DonJuanPakistan
Blasphemer.

Re: Double dipping Crestone couloirs

PostPosted: Fri May 09, 2014 9:16 am
by huevón
I think this calls for a graffiti that doesn't suck thread.

Feel free to nominate The Virgin, graffitis of all faiths welcome. Speaking of which this Betty wrote a nice little essay about it

Re: Double dipping Crestone couloirs

PostPosted: Fri May 09, 2014 9:29 am
by skykilo
The 5.12c we did is just left of the virgin. There is an 11+ start that goes up that diagonal crack-like feature below the virgin, but it's freaky and also quite hard, see this photo from the Aspen trip last year:
Image
Penitente Canyon is a sweet spot to hit on the way to or from other Colorado adventures.

Eric: that Red Couloir/NW couloir on Crestone Peak has definitely been skied from the top of the couloir between the summits in a good snow year, but I'm dubious about the prospect of ever skiing it off the true summit, strikes me as unrealistic, especially given location and climate.

Re: Double dipping Crestone couloirs

PostPosted: Sat May 10, 2014 5:52 pm
by EpiKing505
You could always down climb it with skies on lol!

Re: Double dipping Crestone couloirs

PostPosted: Mon May 12, 2014 7:41 pm
by Charlie
Is the entrance to the NW couloir the notch at left in the photo captioned "Eric and Bill traversing to the true summit."?

http://www.tetongravity.com/forums/show ... -de-Cristo

I remember looking down it after a S-side ascent and concluding that it was the ski line. Seems like the S-side skiers, who ski-billy-goat from near the summit sometimes get pretty close to that notch?

Re: Double dipping Crestone couloirs

PostPosted: Tue May 13, 2014 6:21 am
by skykilo
Interestingly enough, the Gerry Roach book I have says that those guys did not go to the true summit. We've climbed repeatedly to the summit behind them in that picture, Charlie, which this book says is the true summit. Honestly, it doesn't seem any higher from atop it. But I'm taking the book at its word that the west summit is the true summit. Last March, the snow to get to that notch was spooky. This year, Micah and I didn't even attempt to go that way, instead we just headed up that little gully toward the "true summit."

Oh, and to answer your question, the fellas in the picture to which you refer are essentially at the top of the northwest couloir.

And it's snowing lightly in Santa Fe this morning.

EDIT: IT IS NOW CLEAR THAT I WAS OBVIOUSLY WRONG AND THOSE GUYS DID IN ALL LIKELIHOOD GO TO THE TRUE SUMMIT.

Re: Double dipping Crestone couloirs

PostPosted: Tue May 13, 2014 10:13 am
by Charlie
Agreed that the west summit is the true summit - the aforementioned photo is taken from near the west summit, looking east, isn't it?

Re: Double dipping Crestone couloirs

PostPosted: Tue May 13, 2014 10:26 am
by skykilo
I am still confused, but it looks like they climbed from Broken Hand Pass side which means that photo is looking east as you suggest.

Hotlinking photo here for reference.
Image

Maybe that is the entrance to the northwest couloir behind them. Difficult to understand the perspective since it doesn't look right to me. Any certainty on my part might evade me until we've skied the other side of the mountain. From the true summit as I understand it, that perspective is not available. Hmmmmm

Re: Double dipping Crestone couloirs

PostPosted: Tue May 13, 2014 10:48 am
by Charlie
It's my impression that the photo was taken from the spot marked with the red dot here:

http://www.hillmap.com/m/ag1zfmhpbGxtYX ... IDAifjiCgw

If I've got a correct impression of the photo, then the usual s-side climbing route is basically fallline beneath the ascending skiers. Maybe four or five turns toward skier's left, then you're in the gut of the shallow dihedral/couloir.

Re: Double dipping Crestone couloirs

PostPosted: Tue May 13, 2014 11:02 am
by skykilo
It seems like you must be correct. It's funny how my experience has shaped my perspective. That photo isn't really taken from the summit, but from a point on or near the ridge very near to the summit. The actual summit is a craggy spot a ways northwest from there. And the direct route from the NW couloir to the summit goes up a little gully with some steps that intercepts between where I think that photo was taken and the true summit. Basically, in the conditions I've seen on my trips, nobody is "skiing" from the summit -- they could scramble the ridge on their skis and prove me wrong. Or maybe there is snow up there on the right day of the right year. And it confuses me either way since I've never looked from the far southerly end of that little summit ridge there.

Does this jive with your experience?

Re: Double dipping Crestone couloirs

PostPosted: Tue May 13, 2014 11:07 am
by skykilo
Although, given my ignorance, maybe it's just as easy to take some indirect tortuous route from the summit.

And you did write "ski-billy-goat from near the summit" which jives with me. But it would be some real silly stuff from the true summit unless there is a very indirect path and I wasn't paying attention.

In the right year, yes perhaps one could do the same south-side near summit shenanigans and sidestep up to the depicted notch. Maybe this El Nino thing will happen next year and I can go have a gander at some stupidity like that. But for the moment more skiing on Kit Carson and Adams and other regional attractions seems like a good idea, too.