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Kite Skiing in the San Juans

March 22, 2013 Ski No Comments

This sure looks fun! Producer Barry Stevenson (Outside Adventure Media) made this short film of San Juan Airheads George Brewster, Matt Hepp, and Parker McAbery above 12,000 feet on McMillan Peak, above Red Mountain Pass.

The Hull Cook Journals: Trauma

May 19, 2010 Hike 2 Comments

Base of the North Face of Longs Peak, just above Chasm View. The cables on the North Face were installed in the mid-1920s and removed in the early 1970s. Photo by Hull Cook

Hull Cook worked as a climbing guide at the Boulderfield Shelter Cabin, at 12,750 feet on Longs Peak, during the summers of 1932, 1933, and 1934. These are his stories.

Everyone at Boulderfield felt a serious responsibility toward all persons who came up trail, although we were in no way required to do so. For everyone who went beyond the cabin we made a mark on a paper tacked to the door of the phone box. Then, as people straggled back, we would mark them off. If at the end of the day there were uncanceled marks remaining, one of us boys would scout the peak, ascending the North Face, going over the top, and returning by the Keyhole route. We would often find victims in various stages of exhaustion and fright, perhaps unable to move without assistance.

Of course occasionally climbers would descend by way of Wild Basin or Glacier Gorge rather than returning to the cabin, in which case the would-be rescuer would find no one and [would] shrug off his effort as a recreational climb.

Not infrequently someone would arrive breathlessly at our cabin-hotel with news that an injured or exhausted climber needed rescuing. The messenger would request, often demand, that a rescue party be organized at once. A couple of Boulderfield boys would perhaps toss a coin to determine which one should go. This casual inability to appreciate the gravity of the emergency was apt to infuriate the messenger. … Continue Reading

Huge Month for 14er Riding

May 17, 2010 Ski 2 Comments

Christy Mahon begins the exposed traverse off the summit of Capitol Peak. Fredrik Marsater/

With big storms blanketing the high peaks in early May, the last 10 days have seen several remarkable descents on Colorado 14ers:

• On May 9, Jarrett Luttrell climbed and snowboarded Capitol Peak, making the probable first snowboard descent, via the Secret Chute line on the east face. With him was Brittany Walker, who proceeded to complete the second ski descent of Capitol by a woman. (The first was by Pam Rice.) Walker now has only four peaks left on her list of 14ers to ski. Also with them were Matt Kamper and Jordan White, who became the second person to ski Capitol twice! This was also the first known time that Capitol has been skied in May.

The Secret Chute line on Capitol Peak's east face. Courtesy of

• One week later, on May 16, Christy Mahon skied Capitol and thus became the first woman to ski all of the Colorado 14ers from their summits. She skied with her husband, Ted, who also has completed all the 14ers on skis, along with Joey Giampaolo and Fred Marmsater. Mahon ticked Pyramid, another crux on the list, on May 7, a day on which at least five people skied the peak. This year she also has skied Holy Cross, Mt. Wilson, El Diente, Pikes, Little Bear, and San Luis. A strong finish!

• Also on May 16, Jarrett Luttrell headed to Longs Peak, the last 14er on his list. With the northern Front Range smothered in snow, the Keplingers Couloir route on the south face was nearly a foregone conclusion, and with this descent Luttrell became the first person to snowboard all the Colorado 14ers.

Congratulations to everyone!

The Hull Cook Journals: An Unforgettable Rescue

May 12, 2010 Climb, Hike 1 Comment

Hull Cook at Chasm View, where his most dramatic rescue on Longs Peak began. Photo by H.P. Ziedema

Hull Cook worked as a climbing guide at the Boulderfield Shelter Cabin, at 12,750 feet on Longs Peak, during the summers of 1932, 1933, and 1934. These are his stories.

Fatalities on the peak were depressing, even though they were beyond our realm of responsibility. One day some frightened youths rushed into the cabin with the unwelcome news that one of their group had fallen. They indicated that he had apparently mistaken the Transom, or False Keyhole, for the real Keyhole. When they saw him fall, they had backed off and regained the usual route.

I hastened to the spot where I expected the body to lodge, the long ledge about 100 feet below the Transom that slopes down to the Agnes Vaile shelter hut. Here, indeed, was the crumpled body of a youth in his late teens. I wondered why he had fallen. The descent from the Transom is not technically difficult. Then I noticed a large box camera nearby. Perhaps it had hampered his descent.

As soon as I had determined there was no doubt about his being dead, I hoisted him up on my shoulder for the half-mile carry back to the cabin. A step away from where his body had lodged the ledge is very narrow, and as I swung around to head downward, the boy’s big climbing boots struck the rock wall, pushing me outward. Off balance, I stared down the near-vertical cliff at the rocks over 300 feet below, and I thought, “I’m going to have to throw him overboard to regain my balance, or we’ll both go over.” Thoughts come fast at such a time. I remembered then that his face was undamaged. What a pity it would be to smash it on those rocks. I teetered apprehensively, straining every muscle to regain stability while the debate—“to toss or not to toss” raged in my head. Moments that seemed like minutes passed until I finally rocked back to a safer stance, and could begin the sad trek down to the cabin. … Continue Reading

Tested: La Sportiva’s Ganda Shoe

May 11, 2010 Climb, Hike No Comments

By Rob Coppolillo

Initial reports indicated that La Sportiva—the Italian maker of boots and shoes whose North American HQ is in Boulder—had a new approach rig called the Gandalf, presumably named after the king-honch sorcerer in Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit. By the time I spied a look at ’em, they’d been renamed the Ganda, so we can reasonably assume a few lawyers made some dough and the folks at La Sportiva had to rename the shoe.

The good news is the Ganda is a work of art. We’ve grown to expect nothing less from La Sportiva’s Italian-crafted footwear: tight, regular stitching; supple leather; a stellar fit; an innovation or two; and plain-old kick-butt performance.

The Ganda’s downsides? Well, the euro hasn’t fully released its stranglehold on the dollar, and paying skilled craftsmen (and providing health care!) isn’t cheap, so the shoe ain’t either: $215 for a pair. The Ganda also feels a tad clunky (14.74 oz/418g) at first—but there’s a method to the design, and by the end of a week of thrashing around in them, I was sold on the construction. … Continue Reading

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Recent Comments

  • Jamie Jones: The secret chute was only a secret top all you easterners....
  • Jeff: Awesome!!!! Are they ever going to be published in book form! These stories need to be made into a movie!!!!...
  • Karen D McCall: What a story, I read every word, absolutely enthralled. As an aging outdoor enthusiast headed for hip replacement, I can...
  • Kirk Miller: New rats in the Platte. Well done sir....
  • Dale: I met Clerin Zumwalt hiking on the Long's Peak trail back in the 1990's. He was with his family and was wearing his RMNP...
  • Ben Collett: Dougald, I miss the updates on this site. Anyway, there is a great route on the 4th Flatiron (see for details) th...
  • Tim: Thanks for the great writeup. We just did this loop yesterday and had a blast. Do you know if anyone has skied the coulo...
  • 14er Sports: Awesome accomplishment!...
  • Kailas: Yes Wick there are that many people. And they are all from back east or Texass... booooo. I've skied up here for ove...
  • jeff: What amazing experiences Dr. Cook had. I feel so fortunate that I've found this website and have been able to enjoy Dr. ...

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A Fine Line on Arrowhead

March 26, 2010

A Fine Line on Arrowhead

Climbers Scotty Nelson and Gil Weiss have discovered (or maybe rediscovered) a great-looking moderate mixed route in Rocky Mountain National Park that might take pressure off overcrowded climbs like Dream Weaver or Martha. The line, which they called Deborah, splits the south face of Arrowhead above the high bench to the west of Black Lake […]

Shelf Road’s Hardest Route Climbed

March 10, 2010

Shelf Road’s Hardest Route Climbed

Colorado’s Shelf Road , a network of vertical limestone cliffs near Cañon City best known for sunny moderates, has a new 5.13d pitch and may soon get its first 5.14. On Sunday, March 7, Mark Anderson redpointed a striking, super-technical arête at Cactus Cliff that was bolted in the early 1990s but apparently never free-climbed. […]

New Route Likely Platte’s Hardest

February 14, 2010

New Route Likely Platte’s Hardest

Jason Haas, who’s working on a new guidebook to South Platte rock climbs, has just redpointed what’s likely the Platte’s hardest pitch, a roof seam that’s protected with removable pro and might be 5.14a. The new route, Comprometido, took about a year and a half to complete. Here, Haas tells the story. While researching routes […]

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Brain Freeze on Mt. Otis

March 18, 2010

Brain Freeze on Mt. Otis

In the heart of Rocky Mountain National Park, a granite spindle called Zowie protrudes from the convoluted south face of Mt. Otis. Just to Zowie’s left is a zigzagging chimney and gully system that holds an unlikely mixed-climbing gem. Brain Freeze was discovered very recently (early 2008) by Andy Grauch and Chris Sheridan. Several parties […]

Lake Agnes–Seven Utes Loop

February 19, 2010

Lake Agnes–Seven Utes Loop

Kevin Landolt is a skier/climber/student, based in Fort Collins, who writes the fun Alpine Ambition blog for the Mountain Shop. Here, Kevin describes a favorite midwinter ski tour near Cameron Pass offering a little of everything. Trailhead: Lake Agnes Road, 2.5 miles west of Cameron Pass Tour Distance: 7.3 miles Total Vert: ca. 2,900′ Season: […]

Mr. and Mrs. Mesa

January 28, 2010

Mr. and Mrs. Mesa

Two of the wildest and most difficult water-ice pitches in the state are in plain view from Highway 50, en route to Ouray and Telluride from points north, plunging down the sheer face of Grand Mesa. Yet few people notice them, and far fewer have climbed them. The routes are tough, to be sure, but […]

East Ridge of Mt. Bancroft

December 28, 2009

East Ridge of Mt. Bancroft

Mt. Bancroft’s rocky east ridge is a terrific mountaineering adventure for Front Range climbers, beginning less than an hour from Denver. The 13,250-foot peak is relatively close to the road, and avalanche danger can be easily managed, making this perhaps the most accessible technical winter summit on the entire Front Range. The east ridge offers […]


Rarities: Wolf Moon, Arapaho Peaks

February 5, 2010

Rarities: Wolf Moon, Arapaho Peaks

Photographer James Beissel sent us this fantastic dawn-patrol shot of the full moon setting over South and North Arapaho in the Indian Peaks, shot from Flagstaff Mountain. Said Beissel: “The first full moon of the New Year is often called the Wolf Moon. The name comes from Native American culture, in which it was associated with […]

New Deal for Great Sand Dunes

January 20, 2010

New Deal for Great Sand Dunes

By Bob Berwyn Stakeholders in the San Luis Valley have taken a giant step toward protecting Great Sand Dunes National Park from mining, energy development, and water exports. Lexam Explorations has agreed to sell its mineral rights if a $9.7 million deal can be finalized by May. Great Sand Dunes National Park was created by […]

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