Two weeks ago we were stymied by deep snow on a ski attempt of Kit Carson Peak. Personally, I don’t consider turning back at Willow Lake a true attempt on the mountain as we didn’t even make it to within sight of the peak, but that said, we were there with that goal in mind, so an attempt on Kit Carson is what I’ll call it.
Allowing a week for the new snow to settle a bit, Christy and I decided to get right back on the horse. We figured since we had already did the hard work breaking the trail the week prior we’d be foolish not to. Seven days later at we were at the trailhead again in the dark, ready to make the trip back into Willow Lake.
The trail we broke through the new snow the week before was nearly dry, as was the road to the parking lot, and we cruised to the lake in about half the time it took us seven days earlier. The four cars parked at the trailhead, one of which had a Dawson’s Guide to Colorado Fourteeners on the front seat had us thinking we would encounter some others who might have the same goal in mind. Once past the lake, we saw a group ahead of us, with one person who was on skis. They looked to be heading to the Outward Bound (O.B.) couloir, the same one we were planning to climb and ski.
We eventually caught up with this bigger group of climbers, and after some brief conversation it was revealed that everyone in the group were registered members of 14ers.com. Since Christy and I poke around there from time to time we soon realized we had a fair amount in common and even had some mutual friends. To make a long story short, we spent the next leg of the day with our new friends, Steph, Sean, Keifer, Craig and Gabe, and reached the 14,165 foot summit together.
To Christy’s dismay, between the snow at the summit and the gullies a short way down on the Southeast Face there was a good amount of exposed rock. But since we had climbed 5000 vertical feet from the car this morning, she wasn’t going to be stymied by a short stretch of patchiness. With skis on, she covered the sparsely snow-covered ground from the summit across to where Craig and I chose to begin our ski, and the three of us started down to the top of the couloir.
Because the sun hadn’t had enough time to get the snow high on the Southeast Face into the spring cycle the skiing wasn’t that great, but once the three of us made it down into the shaded O.B. couloir we had a great time.
Since the others in the group were on foot, it would take a bit longer for them to downclimb, so we said farewell and cruised down to the lake. It was a fun couple of hours with them.
And here’s Christy throwing some alpine turns on her telemarks, something that we’ve all seen a bit more often as of late, and which could be a little foreshadowing of things to come. We’ll see.
Later that day, eleven hours after starting, we were back at the car feeling as though redemption was had. It was nice.
And best of luck to Gabe, Craig and Kiefer who are off to climb Denali soon.
And the parting shot: