Mt. Aetna  
Condition Updates  
Route: via FS228
Posted On: 2022-06-25, By: zootloopz
Info: Summer conditions! Lots of wildflowers. Took me 1 hour to cross the ridge from Taylor. Made it to 11,700' in a stock 4x4 Tacoma. Probably could've gone farther. Not a fun road though. Wouldn't recommend anything less than a larger subbie with a confident driver. Car camping with excellent views of Salida around 11,950'. Road turns to 4wd around 10,400'. car camping for 2WD vehicles around 10,150'. 
Route: Grand Couloir
Posted On: 2022-05-02, By: slawrence2011
Info: Left half of the couloir is filled in all the way from the road basically, right side is all dry. Leaving snowshoes behind was a good idea, totally solid til noon. One thing I would change: Put on crampons down low while it's still low angle. I was used to E aspects rather than S, and this snow never really got soft til I skied down at noon, and was very frightening without crampons near the top, even with an ice axe. But even at a 35 degree angle, switching to ski boots and putting on crampons seemed impossible. Ski descent was great, dropped in right at noon. Wouldn't have wanted to drop much later, plus was a fairly cool day with a bit of wind. My partner glissaded, and said it was too soft for an ideal glissade. Pictures were all taken after skiing past all avalanche terrain, when I knew I would ski another day! 
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Route: Grand Couloir
Posted On: 2022-05-01, By: CheapCigarMan
Info: Bluebird day. Several skiers. No postholing. Did not use snowshoes. Snow was in great condition for the climb. Large section was melted out, see pic. 
Route: Grand Couloir
Posted On: 2022-04-18, By: dsr80304
Info: Road is mostly melted out the first quarter mile or so. There's snow all the way up the couloir. The bottom third is just melted or blown out on the east side - still enough coverage to get up on skins or snow booting. Skied off summit at 930. Snow was great on the descent, nice blown in refresh. Was warming up quick though. 
Route: Grand Couloir
Posted On: 2022-04-16, By: bangerth
Info: Walked up the road in the early morning on frozen snow nicely compacted by a few skiers and snowmobilers. The first third of the Grand Couloir is already snow free, and after that it was a bit of tough going because the rest is not only steep, but was also quite frozen (with the occasional stretch of dritfed loose snow). Maybe surprisingly, there weren't steps from previous parties, so no easy walk up. As the route description already says, the couloir is long: 2,900' of elevation gain; it takes a long time to top out. We ended up heading over to Taylor Mountain. I wished I had put on microspikes for the descent as one has to skip through rocks that are partly ice covered and partly filled in by loose snow. The wind was ferocious on that stretch but eased up once on the slopes of Taylor Mountain. The going was slightly easier there, alternating between dry stretches and short snow fields along the ridge. We descended from Taylor by first taking the SW ridge for a bit, and then dropping into the first (more easterly) of the two south-side couloirs leading up to Taylor. It had enough snow for a grandiose glissade that lasted for a long time, but was occasionally interrupted because the snow was getting too warm and sticky. At the bottom of the couloir, continue south down the gully through some trees before ending up on one of the old mining "roads" (covered in 1-3' of snow) that runs parallel to the road one walks in in the morning. We carried snowshoes up and down these two mountains without ever using them. Crampons are obviously essential for the couloir ascent. 
Route: Grand Couloir
Posted On: 2022-04-08, By: davisrice4
Info: Skied from the summit of Aetna on monday. The road is melting out down low, had to walk for about 5 minutes to reach snow, but there was continuous snow from there to the summit. Skinned to 13k, booted up the lookers right side to the summit. 
Route: Grand Couloir
Posted On: 2022-03-28, By: B_2
Info: Ride report: Road is 98% still snow-covered but melting out fast. Couloir is fully in but not for long unless we have a substantial refresh. Experienced no signs of instability other than expected wet instability as the day warmed. 1-2in thick sun crust over 6-18in depth in morning made for interesting ascent using all modes of travel/traction available to us. (Skins, heel risers, ski crampons, then boot crampons) Booter is in and thanks to whomever put it in on the upper face in the day or two preceding our visit. (However, it goes to right edge of Couloir into a bowling alley of rockfall and I would not go that way if I did it again.) Could not ski from actual summit due to melt/rocks, but could drop in at a break in the cornice down the ridge a little ways on a 45ish deg slope. Expect to ride the double fall line at >30 steepness almost the entire way down. Happy spring! 
6 3
Route: Grand Couloir
Posted On: 2021-05-16, By: angry
Info: Did not use flotation. Spikes were sufficient to reach summit ridge. Descended via Taylor. 
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Route: Grand Couloir
Posted On: 2021-05-13, By: hogantheepic
Info: Still pretty sufficient snow coverage from the summit to the weird boulder field in the trees. I'd estimate 3 more weeks of ski descent potential on the hopeful side. Get it while its in! No flotation was needed going up, nor on the road. Skis were nice for the descent. 
Route: Grand Couloir
Posted On: 2021-05-10, By: jjust
Info: You can drive about a mile up Forest Service Road 230 towards the upper Boss Lake Trailhead. The Grand Couloir had a fair amount of snow left in it. 
Route: Grand Couloir
Posted On: 2021-05-08, By: bludwig
Info: Couloir is still solid, not a great ski. A lot of exposed rock until about half way up but solid up the rest. Traverse over to Taylor is pretty snow free and the way down is super wet. 
Route: Grand Couloir
Posted On: 2021-04-11, By: supranihilest
Info: The Grand is not long for this world and felt more like the Dollar Store couloir. The first few tenths of a mile from the trailhead are dry, then there's continuous snow to the Grand's apron. The apron is full of exposed rock and willows, then until the last thousand or so feet there's large patches of exposed and unstable scree and talus. The steep upper portion of the couloir has icy steps kicked in, some of which had melted out into the adjacent, exposed rock. All snow to the summit was hard and icy and the last 100 or so feet had only tiny steps - an axe was handy here. Overall, given how much of the Grand has melted out, I expect it to be climbable for a short period of time. Skiing it right now would probably be pretty lackluster. Gear: I didn't use flotation at all today (I was on top of Aetna by 8:30, so no need) and would consider an axe and crampons necessary given how icy the couloir was. 
9 3
Route: Grand Couloir
Posted On: 2021-04-11, By: osprey
Info: Continuous snow starts about 0.5 miles from the FS230 road TH. The snow on the road is well packed by snowmobiles and there is no need for traction or flotation going up or down. The snow was very firm in the morning but I did not use crampons or ax until just below where the Couloir becomes steep. The final upper part of the Couloir had very icy snow such that I was using the ax pick despite some steps placed by someone under warmer conditions. It was too icy to descend the Couloir so I went down the west ridge which had softer snow and a more mellow angle until I could traverse back into the Couloir. It took a long time to go up the steep part of the Couloir. 
Route: Grand Couloir
Posted On: 2021-03-21, By: spoony
Info: Skied the Grand on Aetna today. FS 230 is well-packed the whole way and *almost* snow covered from the parking lot, just a few bare spots near the bottom. Conditions today were more winter than spring. The couloir got a dash of overnight snow that was enhanced by light wind loading up to about 8 inches in spots. Wind slab formation was pretty minimal but I stayed away from the obvious areas where wind loading would occur. Below the fresh snow, there was a hard crust from the past few days of warm weather. Underneath the crust was a variable mismash of snow types. I didn't dig any pits but I paid close attention to the snow on my way up. Big fear was a thin slabby snowpack with faceted snow on the ground level but as I climbed I never felt terribly concerned except near the very top where things felt a bit more slab-like. (Though I guess that is problem with deep persistent cannot really find them until they go). Any, you can easily travel on talus for much of the route if you want to avoid setting anything off. I was able to skin up to around 12,800 before I switched to boots and crampons. The crust easily supported my weight on skis but I did break through to knee or thigh deep when I switched to boots in spots. Ski down was pretty good with just enough fresh dust over the crust to make for fun turns. Did not see anyone on the mountain but a few people on 230. 
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Route: Grand Couloir
Posted On: 2020-05-31, By: Jonathan Deffenbaugh
Info: Great climb up the Grand Couloir! Unfortunately the apron's completely melted out so prepare for some rock hopping. However there's still around 1,800' of snow climbing with good kick stepping conditions until near the summit, surprisingly there was some post holing involved. Good glissade runs on the way out, enjoy! 
Route: Grand Couloir
Posted On: 2020-05-22, By: WildWanderer
Info: Last report still valid. Just adding pictures. I made this a snow climb, but it's possible to summit on the scree without traction or by taking the ridge. 
Route: Grand Couloir
Posted On: 2020-05-18, By: Kiefer
Info: Absolutely no need for flotation. FSR 230 is completely dry. The bottom of the apron for the Grand is completely dry. Only the west side (climbers right) of the Grand is filled in with snow. The east side and ridge is also dry as a bone. The west ridge is dry. The couloir will only last maybe another 10-14 days. Taylor is even dryer than Aetna. 
Route: Grand Couloir
Posted On: 2020-05-16, By: 9patrickmurphy
Info: Climbed via the ridge from Taylor, skied the Grand Couloir for descent. The couloir's in good shape today, I'm not sure what it'll look like next week though. Very narrow entrance at the top, was able to side-step down and not remove skis until 11,000. Corny and fun! Really suncupped at the bottom though. I didn't find much beta about the Taylor/Aetna ridge so I'll give my two cents: annoying but generally solid talus on the Taylor side, easing to grassy slopes to the saddle. Then it was a nasty 50% grade for maybe 150 feet that was all covered in snow (very glad to have my axe), then it was relatively easy snow/loose talus to the summit of Aetna. I've dealt with worse ridges, but this one wasn't my fave (carrying skis and ski boots on my back the whole way didn't make me love it any more). Overall definitely worth getting both these peaks in one day, especially if the descent can be so much fun! A good amount of snow in Hoffman Park basin if you're looking to just hit Taylor, too. Photo 1 - a nice sunrise Photo 2 - the Grand from above Photo 3 - the Grand from above, looking at the entrance point from the summit Photo 4 - the Grand from below. Plenty of snow, but perhaps not for long... 
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Route: Taylor/Aetna
Posted On: 2019-07-09, By: madadraw1
Info: Started from old marble quarry on CR 228. All snow avoidable to Taylor summit. A couple stretches of consolidated snow on ridge connecting Taylor & Aetna. Able to glissade down some of this on descent of Aetna. Glissaded down 700-1000 ft from Taylor summit. Again, this snow was avoidable on way up. Note, need at least a cross over vehicle to get up to the marble quarry. 
Route: Grand Couloir
Posted On: 2019-06-16, By: Tim A
Info: Aetna is past its prime for skiing. Made it 1.5 miles up the road to the Boss Lake TH in an Outback, and the mile from there to the avy runout features off and on snow patches. Runout below the Grand is dry and made for a tedious crossing of the talus field. Consistent snow starts around 11,200 but it's a thin band for several hundred feet through some trees. Firm for cramponing this morning at 5am. Upper third became really punchy by 6:30 so I followed a bootpack climbers right side of the couloir to the summit. A fresh two inches of snow on the upper mountain. Pic 4 is the traverse to Taylor. Looks mostly dry once the powder burns off today. 
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