Late spring and early summer are a time of year when most folks are tuning their bikes, planning backpacking trips and working on their tans…for those of us in the Rockies, High Sierras and Pacific NW, this season can be a great time to venture into the high peaks in search of fun, stable snow and some great corn skiing. Last week, I headed up to ski a beautiful looking line on Kelso Mountain, a 13,000 footer adjacent to the very popular 14,000 of Grays and Torreys. Arriving at the bottom of the couloir around 7am we found far less snow than we expected given the late snowfall and north facing aspect.
Not to be denied, we remembered that the Mount Evans road had just opened and this provided easy access from Summit Lake (12,800 feet) to the summit via a variety of snow routes. With our start being a bit later than planned, 1 or 2 or the more aesthetic lines had to be avoided due to the temps and school bus size cornices hanging in the sun. We opted for a north facing couloir that looked like it might hit the summit ridge and provide a great descent from the 14,264 foot summit of Mount Evans on mostly continuous snow back to the car at Summit Lake. Our crew of wily outdoorsman included myself and some old outdoor industry friends including Darrin from Smartwool and Drew from Dynafit (both Colorado based outdoor brands) and our buddy Tom that runs a food truck in the burgeoning mobile food market in the Denver area. We hit the snow around 8:30am and made solid time on our nearly 1,500 foot ascent to the summit ridge, arriving just after 10am. I was armed with my Mayhem 35 All-Terrain pack and it carried quite well with axe, crampons and skis all securely strapped to its light and nimble frame. After kicking steps in the firm but softening snow for over 1,00 feet and some exciting moves on snow, rock and ice (in ski boots nonetheless) we popped up to the summit ridge and hung out briefly to take in the 360 degree vistas and get prepped for the fun descent.
A stellar day in the mountains that had us returning to 80 degree temperatures in the front range that I took advantage of with some quality pool time with my family. From 14,000 feet and skiing to cannonballs at the neighborhood pool over the course of 8 hours, not a bad day in CO.