Sunday, May 18, 2008

Yankee Boy snow conditions

A crew of Ouray County folks went up into Yankee Boy Basin on Saturday in search of good spring corn season. We left Ouray around 0600, and drove to the end of the plowed Camp Bird Road (361). A short skin up the road and we were under Teakettle. There is a ton of snow left up there and a bunch of good size chunder piles as well, making for tricky conditions in spots. We decided to go up Kismet East as it has a number of good options depending on how the daily corn conditions form up.

From the top, the San Juans were beautifully laid out in morning light, and we could see a good set of tracks leading to the summit of Sneffels. The southern couloirs on Kismet were still pretty firm, with alternating bed surface and debris skiing. We opted to descend the way we came. The east ridge was just loosening up, and there were great patches of corn on the steeper slopes. We all mached down the shady hardpack to the truck and called it good.

Spring Skiing in the San Juans is always a bit of a scavenger hunt. Finding a beautiful line with the right snow conditions makes the endeavor almost as much fun as the reward. When it is timed right, the steepest lines in the range fall away as if they were merely the lower Plunge at T-ride. The skiing should be good into June. So get up early and enjoy what many locals agree is the best skiing of the year.

FYI, there is a good track for Sneffels climbers, but snowshoes are definitely advised for the afternoon wallow back.

Caio, CC

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Mooses Tooth Climbs

I just got back from 2 weeks of guiding in the Alaska Range. We were based out of the Root Canal Glacier, under the South Face of The Mooses Tooth. The first week was very busy with many climbers coming up to the Root Canal. Unfortunately there were also enough pulses of moisture to keep us from climbing to the summit.

The second week was much better, and I headed back in with long-time client Bob O. We arrived late in the evening of the 5th. We set a quick camp and went to bed. We left camp at 0430, quickly reaching the base and the first 5.6 rock step. Nine hours later we we at the col between the Central and Main Summits. After a quick break we climbed the remaining ice steps and snow ridges up to the Main Summit. A bit of down-climbing and 19 rappels later we were back on the glacier. 14 hours camp-to-camp.
We took a couple days of rest, walked up the Incisor, and got fired up to try Shaken not Stirred. Shaken is a more ambitious effort, and the couple parties who had done it before us all commented on its more sustained and technical nature. We again left at 0430, making the short walk down glacier to the base. It opened with a sweet pitch of 5.7 leading into 3 more pitches of fantastic thin mixed climbing. We cruised up a bunch of steep snow leading to the Narrows. 500-600 feet of tight chimneys, chockstones, and slots with thin ice formed the crux of the route. We negotiated a couple WI6/M5 cruxes and were soon looking at Englishman's Col above. We gained a good anchor above the col and started the rappels. 16 raps later we were headed back to camp.

Shaken was an incredible experience, one of my favorite alpine routes I have done anywhere. It was in thin and more difficult condition than usual this year, but I think this ended up making it more fun!

I'm back in the San Juans now, it snowed again, the skiing should be great until the middle of June I think!

Go here to check out Bob's in depth report on Shutterfly.

Cheers, CC