As far as Colorado ski mountaineering is concerned, I’ve always considered the 3rd week in May to be my favorite stretch of time. The random weather that tends to sweep through the state earlier in the season usually gives way to a dry and sunny summer pattern. That in turn allows for cold clear nights and a reliable corn cycle on nearly all aspects and elevations. Up high, the frozen snow can be easily climbed and the trails at lower elevations are melted out which can allow for fast, early morning approaches. And when the temperatures are warm and the snow is in this spring cycle, you don’t need to carry as much gear and clothing.
When I look back to all of the years past, it seems like this 3rd week in May is perfectly designed for big days on the local high peaks. And this year was no exception, Christy and I headed out on a Centennial 13er road trip and skied five new summits in as many days. We started in Lake City with Unnamed 13832 and Half Peak, and then moved to Creede. We skied Phoenix Peak outside of that small town and continued east to Crestone, where we had an awesome day upon Mount Adams, and then wrapped it all up with an easy day on Huerfano Peak, in the southern Sangres.
It was the kind of road trip you might not appreciate until it’s over. We finished tired and beat up but loved every minute of it—there’s no better way to see the state up close than through these road trip/mountain adventures.
Half Peak 13,841 ft.
Phoenix Peak 13,895 ft.
Mount Adams 13,931 ft.
In an effort to ski as far as possible and carry our skis and boots the least distance, Chris, Christy, and I often find ourselves abandoning the known trail to explore new exit routes on the snowier north sides of valleys. It may work for a short while, but the snow inevitably drys up and we find ourselves in a heinous bushwhack, isothermic snow, or willow traps. A joking declaration to the “North Side Crew” mocks our insistence that we can find a better way. The lesson– stick to the trail!
Huerfano Peak 13,828 ft.
Our ski season is pretty much all wrapped up, our first running race is already upon us. Time to ease into summer.