Christy, Joey, and I skied Mount Raoul last weekend, a local summit just west of Castle Peak named in honor of the late Raoul Wille.
I never met Raoul Wille. When he passed away in 1998 I was still relatively new to Aspen. In the years after his death I did get to know his brothers and friends pretty well, and I heard many-a-tale about Raoul and his escapades. Seventeen years later, stories of Raoul are still being shared, a testament to his influence on Aspen. For those unfamiliar with the man or the mountain, his friends and family put together a website to spread the good word – http://www.mountraoul.org/
So while the chance to meet Raoul may have been missed, the three of us were able to go ski the remote peak that bears his name. We had an incredible day. The 20-mile tour started in Ashcroft and sent us up into Montezuma Basin to the Castle/Conundrum saddle. It’s not until that point that we caught our first glimpse of the peak itself. We crossed over the saddle and skied into Upper Conundrum Creek Basin towards Mount Raoul, where we started the second climb of the day. A small couloir accesses Raoul’s East Ridge, which you can then follow to the 13,803 foot summit, the 105th tallest mountain in the state.
After taking in views on the beautiful day we skied the highly aesthetic “Sloman Couloir” (named after another Aspen legend, Bob Sloezen, a.k.a. Sloman) that drops down the north face from the summit for about 1,500 vertical feet. Once out of the couloir we headed across the valley to the west side of Conundrum Peak.
We made our way up the west side of Conundrum to its 14,060 foot summit, where we skied the Conundrum Couloir back down towards Montezuma, Ashcroft, Aspen, and ultimately home. Mount Raoul was instantly added to our list of favorite ski descents. Thank you Raoul for such a rewarding day.