Peak(s):  American Pk  -  13,806 feet
Emma Burr Mtn  -  13,538 feet
Paiute Pk  -  13,088 feet
Atlantic Pk  -  13,841 feet
Date Posted:  07/15/2016
Modified:  07/16/2016
Date Climbed:   06/20/2016
Author:  SnowAlien
Additional Members:   moneymike, mtnbikerskierchick, jbchalk
 Cherry Picking the Lines II   


Date: June 5, 2016
Trailhead: American basin TH
Route: Victory and Traitor couloirs
Distance: ~4 miles
Elevation Gain: 2,800
Vertical skied: 2,800
Partner: solo

The plan was to ski Sunshine/Redcloud and Handies. There were reports that people skied them just days before. However, even on the drive in I realized that I was too late. Snow line on Sunshine/Redcloud group started at 12,500 ft already, and I didn't feel like JK'ing the summit skis. But there was an excellent Plan B - American peak. I've been wanting to ski it for a few years and I hiked it in 2014 in the summer with the sole reason to check out the couloirs. Miraculously, Subi didn't have any trouble getting into the American basin. With North facing lines, I didn't feel the need for a particularly early start, and launched from the camp around 7 am. My main interest was the steeper Traitor couloir, which was still in the shade, so I decided to see what else was available. Both Independence and Patriot couloirs had too much debris in them, but Victory looked doable.

Traitor is still in the shade

Went up the looker's left side of Victory

Summit ridge - steeper than it looks

Chill time (I mean, transition time)

Somebody was on the summit of Jones at the same time ~11 am

Ski down went pretty quick in softening snow

After Victory, I decided to traverse over to Traitor and see if it was still climbable after 11 am. Turns out the snow was still holding up and I made up 500 ft pretty quick. On the way up I cleaned the ski route from many small rocks.

Top of Traitor

Fun steep turns - keep working on those jump turns

Thanks American for a fun day

Emma Burr

Date: June 10, 2016
Trailhead: ~11,000 ft on Cottonwood Creek road
Route: North couloir
Distance: ~6 miles
Elevation Gain: 2,500 ft
Vertical skied: ~2,500 ft
Partner: Brittany Walker Konsella

Brittany already did an excellent write-up here, so I am just going to post some photos as teasers. It was a fun girls day out!

No toads were harmed, or in fact, seen on this outing!

Booting up the slope. We each counted to 100 steps and then switched

Brittany ascends with Princeton in the background

Time to ski!

Fun summer snow


The line (center)


Date: June 18, 2016
Trailhead: Brainard lake winter TH
Route: Curvaceous couloir up, SE face ski descent
Distance: ~14 miles
Elevation Gain: 3,000 ft
Vertical skied: ~1,000 ft
Time: ~ 9+ hours
Partners: Brandon, Jay, Russel, Joel Gratz, Derek, Mike

Brandon has already covered the trip in his excellent blog post, so I just post a few photos as teasers. Among other lines this season, Paiute stands out as one having the longest approach for the shortest ski line with a fairly mellow angle. It somewhat baffles me to see the IPW area being popular with skiers, but likely proximity to the Front range and the longer snow season have something to do with it. Access gate was still locked in the morning when we started (4.30 am), so a few of us biked the road to the Mitchell lake TH.

Mt. Toll looks ok, but it's a long slog over there for a short ski

Brandon and Joel are loving an early morning bushwhack (trail was obscured by snow)

Curvaceous gully (ascent) on the left, and SE face (descent) on the right

Gang heading up Curvaceous

More snow over there

Four of us (plus the dog that follows Brandon everywhere) decided that summit was worth the scramble trouble

Brandon the telemarker (or is it telemarketer?)

Natalie - photo courtesy of Brandon

Gazillion transitions and curious tourists (what did you ski???) later we were back to the TH and our bikes and shortly after that to the car.


Date: June 20, 2016
Trailhead: McCulough gulch TH
Route: V couloir
Distance: ~7 miles
Elevation Gain: 3,000 ft
Vertical skied: ~1,800 ft
Time: ~ 5 hours
Partner: Moneymike

Atlantic was the opposite of Paiute. Short approach and a really, really fun ski. Mike and I initially planned to ski Fletcher via NE couloir, but a lazy late start (7.30 am), shorter approach and an obvious line on Atlantic made us change our plans. This was my 2nd time skiing Atlantic and I enjoyed it even more than the 1st time. Some lines are considered classic for a reason.

Mike on the approach - we hauled our skis, but the approach was very straightforward and we made great time.

Somewhere around 12k and 9.30 am we decided to make V couloir our new objective instead of Fletcher

My step-kicking fairy

Mike on the summit - he didn't even complain about my slowness this time

Dropping in

What a fun ski!

Mike likes to ski fast - this is not resort after all

And that was it. There were a few more skis - another attempt on Fletcher, and a season wrap on favorites Grizzly A on June 27 and Peak 10 on June 30th. The end of the ski season is always tough to come to terms with, and it will be remembered fondly. Well, here's hoping that the next ski season will be safe and fun.

Skiing = fun with friends

Comments or Questions
Grizzly Adams
07/15/2016 21:08
LOL, that was me over on Jones on June 5th and I remember thinking that whoever was over on the peak of American looked like a little alien. Must have been the helmet Nice work!

07/17/2016 07:22
I probably was wearing my helmet due to some rockfall in the couloirs (nothing major, but a few small rocks did whizz by)... Good eyesight! I could only see a small black dot on the summit. How was Jones? Still looked pretty snowy fom my angle.

Grizzly Adams
07/24/2016 11:37
Wish my eyesight was that good but had to break out the camera and zoom lens to make out the helmet. Snow was 3-5' and solid coming up the ridge line and probably gave me an extra 4-6' on the summit. After a nap on the summit the descent was very late in the day and snow was very soft (postholed most of the way) but having just come off of Niagara I couldn't pass it up.

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