Peak(s):  Huron Peak  -  14,006 feet
Date Posted:  04/23/2016
Date Climbed:   04/07/2016
Author:  mojah
 Powder Hog on Huron   

It's all Mine!

East Face
Elevation Gain: ~4,500'
Mileage: ~13.5 mi
Round Trip Time: 9 hrs

I'm a bit late in posting this, but I had started writing this before that pesky thing called life got in the way. Figured I'd not let the work go to waste and finally finish it up.

The stuff of dreams

April has arrived in Colorado and with nice weather, I was really starting to get itchy for big steep lines again. Work had been slow and the nice weather window was starting to close, so I decided to take Thursday and Friday off. I called up a few friends to see if anyone was wanting in on a mid-week ski, but not to my surprise, everyone was working. Bummer. Not willing to let a little hiccup like that get in the way, I set my sights on Huron for Thursday. I get my gear ready and drive to roughly a mile from the Rockdale trailhead on Wednesday evening.

I eat a quick breakfast and chug a bit of coffee before starting out at 5 AM on Thursday. About 15 minutes in, I realize I don't have my phone with me, so I rush back to the car, grab it, and I'm off again by 5:30 seriously hoping that the half hour delay wouldn't matter. I reach Rockdale and waste a bit of time crossing the creeks and finding the road, but I start making good time again once I do so.

The snow on the road was a bit of cause for concern, as it was already rotten, with large wet slabs collapsing in more exposed meadows. My concerns first came right at the car as I woke up to see the outside temperature to be 33 Fahrenheit, making for a subpar freeze (A few people may learn from this, so temperature gradient is about 3-5 degrees Fahrenheit for every 1,000' of gain with variations taken in cosideration of inversion, wind, cloud cover, humidity etc. With this, you can get a rough estimate of how good a freeze you got at a given elevation #themoreyouknow). I carried on anyway, having a gut feeling that snow above treeline would be more in much better condition than on the road.

Despite the hiccups at the crossings (thank the gods there weren't any Freys ), I make it to Clohesy Lake at 7:30, as the valley starts to get bathed in light.

Clohesy Lake

I cross the lake and start making my way up the drainage to the basin under Huron. It turned out to be a lot easier than I expected, expect for the steep last pitch to Lois Lake where the winds were whipping and the snow almost too firm to set switchbacks. Here, Huron finally came into view.

Lois Lake

A bit higher up in the basin

Upon reaching the basin, my somewhat edumacated guess about the snowpack was confirmed. Cold and soft but supportive spring snow. Avalanche advisories had been warning of wet slides on east facing aspects, but I had gotten an early enough start today. I finally slow my pace a bit to enjoy the gorgeous bluebird day. There was even a slight breeze to keep me from absolutely roasting! At about 12,600', near the base of the East Face, I take a quick break to take it all in. Hardly a cloud in sight!

Looking back

Lonely skin track

Upward and onward

East Face and saddle

A continuous line from the summit

I was able to skin up to a little over 13k before I put the skis on my back. Soft snow made the going slow, but that's a good thing when time comes to click in, right? On the saddle, the wind picks up and I layer up a bit. Actually felt good after baking in the sun. The standard route is dry and not skiable by a long shot. I'm barely able to make out the trail and follow it to the summit.

Missouri Group

Down the standard route, with La Plata in the distance

I top out at 11:00, gawk at the Apostles and look down my line. Completely untouched and just about perfect. A bit later than I'd estimated, but still decent considering the later start and delays at Rockdale. The snow wasn't warming up at all, so I enjoy my time on the summit, not in any rush to drop in aside from the pure giddiness at the prospect of an incredible descent.

The loading in the upper pitches was a bit of cause for concern, so I take a couple of healthy hard ski cuts. Once satisfied, I take one more for good measure before committing.

The always impressive Apostles

Looking down

A bit of love for my Salomons

The stuff of dreams

First, a selfie


Below the choke and down the apron

Brush strokes on a flawless canvas

The descent was just about everything I'd hoped for. Jump turns feel almost effortless. I've had plenty of descents (in and out of the resort) in the past where I'd been too content to drop into the steeps when conditions were far from good. Windboard, ice, minefields, overripe corn; you name it, I've probably skied it. I guess that's what happens when you're a bit too cocky for your own good. I suppose you get plenty of exposure to that too when you run the lifts that service Crested Butte's steeps. Whatever. It builds character

Entirely too proud of myself, I ski the basin down to treeline, where the snow conditions deteriorated rapidly. Descending down the tight drainage back to Clohesy, the snow turned to slush, and by the time I was back on the road, it was entirely isothermal. Tips sinking in constantly, my skis refused to float, and they were relegated to being oversize snowshoes. I was more than glad to take them off at the first sign of dry land.

The first signs of suck.

The exit on the road aside (and let's face it, the exit sucks 90% of the time), this was probably the best ski descent I've had to date. Now here I sit, finishing up the report, thinking about the next big line.

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

Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19

Comments or Questions
04/24/2016 21:06
So jealous, that looked amazing.

Forrest Thorniley
04/25/2016 09:10
Looks like a perfect descent! Nice job. Pear is looking good eh?

04/26/2016 14:16
Wierd question. How ya like those Salomons in the BC? Im on a couple pairs of G3s. Curious about Salomons BC line up.

There's no waiting for friends...
04/27/2016 11:01
...when you can ski pretty 'S' turns like that!

Captain Kirk is climbing a mountain...
05/10/2016 15:54
Joms, good to read your stuff again. Well-written, informative, and entertaining-- I laughed out loud at your Game of Thrones reference.

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