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: Midwinter to spring; two bowls prone to avalanche danger
The Route: This tour offers up good low-angle skiing and incredible views of the Never Summers and surrounding ranges. Start at the Lake Agnes trailhead along Highway 14. Follow the trail, cross the Michigan River, and tour up to big meadow below Lake Agnes. From here, skin up the obvious glade to reach the north ridge of No Name Peak (Peak 11,972′). The upper portion of this glade reaches a large bowl; if avalanche conditions are threatening, stick to the old growth on climber’s right.
Once at the saddle, follow the long, low-angle north ridge to the summit. This ridge is often bare due to wind, but even if you have to hike it’s worth it. At the summit, take a few minutes to admire the view of the Nokhu Crags, Medicine Bows, Mummy Range, Zirkels, Flattops, and even the Gore Range on a clear day. Continue along the ridge for about half a mile until you’re on the northwest ridge of Mt. Mahler. A long 20° slope leads west, down to the saddle below Seven Utes. Snow conditions vary widely on this slope—if you catch it at the right time, you may enjoy seemingly endless perfect turns (Canadian Rockies–style) down to the wooded saddle. If not, you’ll find a wind-pummeled crust and enjoy seemingly endless survival turns.
Ski through the old growth and up to the beautiful summit bowl of Seven Utes Mountain (11,407′). Skin onto the large, flat summit and enjoy more views. There are a number of decent options for the descent I prefer to ski back down the little bowl and then break skier’s left down the broad, open slope that leads to the drainage between No Name and Seven Utes. This is a great run, and the standard approach trail for Seven Utes greets you at the bottom. A long, very enjoyable trail will funnel you down through the trees all the way to the highway. Don’t put your skins back on! A few short rises exist, but they’re easy to negotiate. At the road, hitch a ride back to your car, walk a mile along the road, or follow the snowmobile trail back to the Lake Agnes trailhead. All options are pretty painless.
Special Notes: Bring a map and compass, and know how to use them. On a clear day this route is super-straightforward, but low visibility can easily lead to an epic. Cameron Pass is a remote destination, and cell service (even on summits) is rare.
Map: Mount Richthofen Quadrangle (7.5 Series)