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.
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.
• 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!
Randonee racer Bryan Wickenhauser reports on the first Five Peaks ski mountaineering race in the Ten Mile Range above Breckenridge—a monster course that gained 10,000 vertical feet. Thirty-five teams of two braved the challenge on April 10; see the Five Peaks website for full results and links to photos. Here’s Wick’s report:
The inaugural Five Peaks race lived up to its hype as North America’s longest ski mountaineering race, with 10,000 feet of vertical and five separate ascents behind and in the Breckenridge ski resort. My teammate for the race was my fellow Team Crested Butte member Jon Brown. We’ve both been racing in the COSMIC Series for the last four years, and we train all the time together—perfect partners!
The weather going into Friday night called for temps bottoming out at 20°F with light winds for Saturday and sunny skies. Really a perfect forecast for an April ski mountaineering event. The start was classic Alpine at 6 a.m., so we awoke at 4:30 a.m. to get our breakfast on and have time for a brief warm up at gear check.
The start was at the base of Peak 9 at about 9,600 feet, and our first summit would be Peak 10, about 4,000 feet higher! We skinned our way up some mellow groomed runs to the top of the ski area, where we continued though a backcountry gate. Now we began to get into more technical skinning, as we were above tree line and the winds had taken most of the loose snow and deposited it elsewhere (like hopefully on the descents). … Continue Reading
It’s not often you get good first-hand accounts of serious avalanches. Often the victims are too shaken or chastened by the experience to write about it—or, tragically, they’re unable to write at all. But in the last week we’ve enjoyed superb stories about the serious avalanche accident on Grand Mesa on March 17—from both the victim and his rescuer.
Seth Anderson and Ann Driggers climbed the northwest side of Grand Mesa, early that morning in mid-March. For several years, Anderson, a cofounder of the Grand Junction–based Loki apparel company, had dreamed of skiing the Thunderbird and Serpent formations on the steep walls overlooking Palisade. These bizarre slide paths play into Ute legends of deities living on Grand Mesa; Anderson had written before about these stories and his fascination with the formations. This winter’s heavy snows had covered the slides, making Anderson’s dream seem feasible. … Continue Reading