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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.

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/Fredrikmarmsater.com

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 14erskiers.com

• 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!

Spring Ski Spectacular

May 3, 2010 Ski No Comments

Boulder-based photographer Fred Marmsater sent us this inspiring gallery of April skiing above Gothic, near Crested Butte, and on the west side of the Indian Peaks. Be sure to visit his website for more great images.

First Person: The Five Peaks Race

April 27, 2010 Run, Ski No Comments

Beautiful views helped ease the pain of a punishing course. Photo by Kate Lapides

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

Thunderbird Avalanche

March 31, 2010 Ski 1 Comment

The Thunderbird and Serpent above Palisade. Photo by Seth Anderson

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

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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 MP.com 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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