Well actually, skiing 13,300 foot Mount Daly is almost always a great day, as it was for us last Saturday. In fact, I think it would probably be a hugely popular Aspen objective, much like Mount Hayden, were it not for the drawn out approach.
So I say “grind” half-seriously, because the climbing and skiing is usually really fun and worthwhile once up in the basin, it’s just that more often than not, getting in and out can be a real grunt, sometimes feeling like the hardest part of the day.
It has a lot to do with the super-early starts needed to get up in the basin early enough in the day, that to get the necessary alpine start, you’ll be skinning in the dark timber through the late hours of the night, trying to navigate without any well defined trails and it’s just easy to get off route.
And maybe we’ve just had a bit of bad luck, but we’ve made the trip up West Snowmass Creek quite a bit, three times last year alone. It didn’t matter that Joey, Christy and I had been up there two dozen times between us in summer and winter, or that we had multiple GPS’s in use, whenever early starts were involved, we almost always managed to get off route, to some extent. Whenever we thought we were right where we wanted to be, we would soon find ourselves completely turned around, once somehow almost skinning in a complete circle.
So as usual, it was a bit of a chore to get in the four miles to the base of the mountain last weekend. As soon as we emerged from the woods though, and we were below the mountain itself, everything was great. We skinned all the way up through the Skier’s Couloir, switching to crampons for the last short steep bit and found the snow on the East Face to be awesome, for nearly 3,000 vertical feet to the valley floor.
And I’ll include these images from the day before, from up in some couloirs that fall off Pyramid Peak, simply because it was such a nice day.