Peak(s):  Mt. Lindsey  -  14,055 feet
Date Posted:  02/23/2015
Modified:  02/11/2016
Date Climbed:   02/08/2015
Author:  SnowAlien
Additional Members:   Hoocharoni, mkmiller, moneymike, Manky, shanahan96
 Lindsey Winter & Spring Ski   

Mt. Lindsey in Winter

Trailhead: Aspen River Ranch
Mileage: ~18 miles
Elevation gain: ~5,900 ft
Dates: February 7-8, 2015
Ski crew: Mike, Jaaron, Natalie, Snowshoe crew: Jamie and Adam

Day 1 - the approach
Mileage ~4.5 miles
Elevation gain: ~ 1,300 ft
Time: ~3.5 hours

Mild weather presented another opportunity for winter camping in reasonable conditions. It also meant good road access. Jaaron and I got to the Aspen River ranch only to notice tire tracks continue further. After parking the Subaru and consolidating gear in Jaaron's truck, we were able to get a couple miles further in until we found Jamie and Adam's truck (they decided to show up an hour early to the meeting spot and didn't wait for us). Time to start skinning. Road remained almost dry for another couple miles, but then the snow levels gradually kept increasing. Even with snowshoer's trench we stopped making any meaningful progress. Jaaron soon found the root of the problem - glop! - in February. Thankfully, he brought the glop wax, which certainly helped a lot, and the progress resumed.

First view of the basin.

In about 3 hours we reached the summer TH only to find a note from Jamie saying that "skiers are slow". Well, it took them 4 hours, so not so sure who was slower In another 15 minutes we reached the wide open meadow and set up the tent city. Jamie somehow lured me out of the tent for trailbreaking duties (which is called establishing a skin track in skier's parlance), but Jaaron just rolled his eyes and crawled into his sleeping bag for a nap (smart dude). So I had to glide in front of 'shoers in deep snow for about a mile only to watch them sink in behind me with every step. Satisfied with the effort, and in waning daylight, Jamie eventually allowed us to return to our tents. I think Adam mentioned something to the extent of getting skis for the next trip.

Day 2 - summit day and ski/hike out
Mileage: ~13.5 miles
Elevation gain: ~4,600 ft
Time: between 11 and 13.5 hours

After a decent night of sleep, we left out of tents ready for the big day and got going around 6.45 am. I was hoping Mike, who was daytripping, would catch up to us and he did soon after we set out. Skiers took over the skin track duties.

Creek crossings were interesting as snow bridges kept melting

Skinning got a bit more challenging as we exited the forest and went up a rocky gully

MoneyMike skinning

Jamie higher in the basin

Skinning in the upper basin. Photo credit: Mike

Jaaron and Adam heading up the ridge. Photo credit: Mike

To our dismay, winds were pretty strong, although the forecast called for only 15 mph winds. At around 13k, skiers threw skis on the packs and booted up the ridge. Up to that point, everything went according to plan, more or less (except for the wind). From the saddle, the group split. Skiers decided to check the North couloir with Jamie going along, while Adam decided to go for the low hanging fruit - standard route. I went with skiers only to immediately question my decision. The day just went from "big" to "bigger" by my standards, with close to 900 ft of additional vertical and extra mileage. I was worried if I had enough energy not only to carry the skis to the summit, but to ski and then reclimb back to the saddle. I confided my concerns into Mike and ultimately decided to leave the skis at the bottom of the couloir.

Standard route

Traverse to the couloir (Photo credit - Jaaron)

Starting up the North couloir - Natalie, Jamie, Jaaron. Photo credit: Mike

Mike and Jaaron are stubborn (and awesome skiers), so they decided to go for it

About half-way up the couloir Mike figured out we were in the wrong branch of the couloir, which could potentially cliff out. Grrrreat! Never fear though, Jaaron found a good line across the rib and we soon joined forces with Mike who traversed to the "proper" couloir earlier.

Blanca from Lindsey

Mike looks happy to reach the summit with skis for the 2nd time

Natalie on the summit, ~1pm

Our fearless leader, Jaaron

Huerfano with Crestones in the distance

Weather was sweet - winds died down completely and we could spend some quality time on the summit enjoying the views. After everybody got their fill, we started down - Jamie went down the standard route following Adam's tracks who descended 1.5-2 hours earlier, while I headed down the North couloir, since my skis were stashed at the bottom of the couloir. I tried to move quickly as I thought skiers would zoom by me at any minute.

Rocky start which required some Davenporting

Entering the couloir

Conditions were pretty tough for skiing, but Jaaron somehow made it look good. Mike was right behind him.

Then there was an unpleasant part - reclimbing back to the saddle with Iron Nipple. It was getting pretty late in the day too - we gained the saddle around 3pm. From there it was downhill (mostly). We were able to make a few fun corn turns off the saddle, but for the next 4k of descent the snow was the mixture of sastrugi, breakable crust, powder in very thick trees, ice and other types of nearly unskiable terrain.

Corn turns off the saddle - Jaaron

Corn turns off the saddle - Natalie

Corn turns off the saddle - Mike

On the ski out

On the ski out.

Skiers got to the camp around 5pm, packed the camp and skied out. I was the last one reaching the car at 8pm. It turned out to be 18-hour day for Mike as a day trip, and 12-13 hour day for the campers, except Adam, who managed a reasonable 11 hour day via the standard route.

Mt. Lindsey in Spring

Trailhead: ~3 miles below summer TH
Mileage: ~15 miles
Elevation gain: ~5,500 ft
Date: May 23, 2015
Time: 12+ hours
Ski crew: Mike M, Jill, Frank and Dan

I didn't get to ski Lindsey in winter, so naturally, I had to go back to ski the peak. We picked a great weekend, with lots of snow in the Sangres in the prior week. A lingering snowdrift blocked a road a few miles below the summer TH, so we didn't get as far as we hoped. Mike and I launched around 4.30 with Jill's group a few minutes earlier.

Spring look of our winter campsite

Mike and Jill at the creek crossing

The route still being fresh in my mind, we didn't have any route finding challenges this time. After lots of steep skinning, we had Iron Nipple in sight.

Group skinning towards Iron Nipple

Mike M on the ridge to the saddle with Iron Nipple

Mt. Lindsey is looking a-la Mt. Everest

The weather didn't look promising and we struggled with the typical moody spring weather throughout the morning to about 9am, when the skies suddenly cleared.

As we approached the saddle, the weather started to clear out

It suddenly got really hot

Jill's group coming up

More steep traversing and climbing

Weather was starting to look a little threatening again

After quickly tagging the summit and making a transition, I was excited to drop in.


I had this to look forward to

Ski down was very enjoyable in good powder conditions


I skied all the way down to the valley floor and then waited for the group to catch up

We regrouped, transitioned back to skinning/hiking and made a painful climb back up to the saddle

Mike catching some bonus turns


Of course, down low we had to deal with creek crossings and then hike out many miles back to the car, where Mike and I arrived around 5pm.

My GPS Tracks on Google Maps (made from a .GPX file upload):

Comments or Questions
02/23/2015 17:36
Hard to believe there’s so little snow in Feb. But maybe that changed this past weekend? Nice pics, for sure!

02/23/2015 20:02
Nice job. I want to get out to Lindsey, but with the storms as of late it might be a while!

02/24/2015 11:45
Nice job getting this one!

I’m amazed at the lack of snow in that area. Hopefully the most recent storm dropped a lot of moisture in that area.

02/25/2015 15:45
^Sounds like what Dwight’s group found on El Diente – lots of snow work below tree line and a dry upper mountain. Fun

Thanks Natalie
02/25/2015 16:55
Thanks again for putting together another successful trip, even if you did invite some snowshoers!

Thanks for not mentioning
02/26/2015 22:09
my extra mileage. That was kinda dumb of me to not follow the tire tracks at the ranch. Oh well, I need the exercise. Did you figure out how many extra miles that was?

Low Hanging Fruit
02/27/2015 00:14
Yeah you definitely lost me at "descend into the basin". There was no descending in my itinerary at that point. Sorry about leaving y’all, but the low hanging fruit was definitely quicker. Great day, thanks for letting me and my snowshoes tag along. New skis are officially on the wish list.

22mi, that is a DAY...

Way to persevere
03/02/2015 02:05
It sounds like challenging/frustrating conditions – deep and unconsolidated snow in the trees, and sparse, icy snow up top. Heck of a day – well done by all!

MMMM, Sastruggi and unconsolidated sugar!
03/23/2015 23:20
Epic conditions by the looks of it! lol
if only the crestones would get the amount of snow the rest of the state receives. good mountain range, but poor snow quality. i’ve had one good ski day in there over the course of about 16 years. the rest looked pretty much like yours. at least the scenery is rad.

02/15/2016 20:54
Bill, et al. - I can assure you that there was plenty of snow below the tree line, and it was of deep, unconsolidated variety. Made plowing through it pretty laborious. The upper mountain was pretty dry indeed. We were guessing Lindsey/Huerfano might be in the rain/snow shadow of Blanca and other peaks to the west. Although lower, Twin Peaks looked caked and there was way more snow on California. Going in, we didn‘t quite know what to expect, as there were no beta and no tracks, and we ended being the only successful party on the summit this winter so far. And this was by far the nicest weekend of winter camping I‘ve had.

04/02/2015 19:45
Bill – sounds like perfect conditions to me, especially with green avy rating. Sangres actually got about a foot or so in the prior week (reference Challenger point report). Not much of it stuck above the treeline though. Winds in that basin could be pretty ferocious. Given the tame avy conditions, we were fairly comfortable going up North couloir at least to check it out for potential ski descent, which is not typically done in winter.

Jaaron– snowshoers invited themselves. and then ran away from us, hungry to break some trail. I just could not stop them.

extra mileage
04/02/2015 19:45
Mike - that would be 2 mi each way, so that would be 22 mi total for you. Well just pretend you drive a Subaru ;)

Adam - I wish chose the same route you did, since I ended up not skiing the couloir. Ended up just carrying skis around for an extra hour or two. Pretty slick move on your part to beat us all back to the truck by a few hours. Nicely done.

Thank you
04/02/2015 19:45
Steve – I think conditions were on par for the course below the tree line. Once the snow became consistent, it was very deep and unconsolidated (north facing basin), so it was slow going. Above the tree line, conditions were better than expected for hiking, but pretty challenging for skiing. We had a very strong team and I was happy that everyone made the summit and got down safely.

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