14er Ski Descents – Mount Princeton – May 9, 2004
Route: East Face
Team: Christy, Ted
Moving south from Columbia, Princeton would be next. I was unaware at the time how good the coverage was this spring in the Sawatch Range. Princeton, in particular, wouldn’t hold this much skiable snow for a few years. We figured it would be a good one because of the easy access on the Mt. Princeton Road, a short approach and direct climb. Being the fifth 14er in four days that sounded perfect to us.
We drove up the road to the radio towers for the night, the two beers with dinner at Casa Del Sol following our long day had us both ready to pass out. Camping here near 11,000 feet meant we didn’t need the predawn start, but it didn’t matter because by now our clocks were just set to get going early.
We skinned up the road to its break with the summer trail, then came around to see the snow filled face in the morning sun. Skinning frozen snow on the side hill was more effort than we preferred to use, so we racked the skis on our packs, donned the crampons and walked the summer route, first in the bowl then up the ridge to the summit.
Two and a half years later I would return with Chris Davenport and Nick Devore on one of four attempts Chris made to ski the peak, only to find desperate conditions and a decision to abort. Ultimately he got it, but through his ordeal I always thought how lucky Christy and I got here, being on the first try. Princeton isn’t one of those peaks I enjoy over and over again.
Being east facing, the snow was ready to go. Fall line skiing down the gut worked for a ways, eventually hanging a hard right traverse so as not to miss the exit of the summer trail we came up on. It’s a really quick ski. With a few ribs of scree to get over, we made it back to the road and glided right to the truck. We were happily driving through Buena Vista by 10am, on our way back to Aspen. We had pretty good four day weekend, but before we were in Leadville it was already behind us, and the discussion suddenly turned to where to go next? I wonder how it’s like in the Sangres?