Peak(s):  Mt. Toll 12985
Date Posted:  05/30/2022
Date Climbed:   05/28/2022
Author:  123tqb
Additional Members:   constipated_pete
 No Fees If You Bike the Toll Road   

No Fees If You Bike the Toll Road

  • Date: 28 May, 2022
  • Peaks: Mt. Toll
  • Route: SE Face
  • Mileage: 13mi
  • Vertical: 2900ft
  • Time: 7.5hrs
  • Partners: Peter, Evan

It's been a while since I've written a trip report. This past school year turned out pretty chaotic, leaving me very little time to get into the mountains. Even on the objectives I had attempted I'd seen very little success, meaning there was usually not a lot that I feel the need to share after I get back. Until now!

At first I was skeptical of Peter's plan to bike from the Brainard Lake winter closure to the Mitchell Lake summer trailhead, rather than just waiting a few days until it opened permanently for the season so we could drive the extra mileage. Why not go climb a different mountain in the meantime? I spent quite a bit of time looking for an alternative, unsuccessfully, and agreed that maybe it was a good idea after all. We left Boulder at about 4:30. Since I hadn't owned a bike since mine was stolen in 2020, we had to take some time in the parking lot to pump up the tires of the bike I was borrowing for the day, finally leaving around 5:45, the sun already up.

Sunrise in the winter parking lot.
My bike setup. Heavy and too small!
Peter and Evan's setup. Takes less time to set up!

It turns out that none of us are cyclists. Each uphill stretch was painful, but despite our being out of shape we made pretty good time. We dropped our bikes where the snowshoe trail intersects the Brainard Lake loop. We started to skin, of course having to take off our skis immediately to boot over dry ground. The snow became continuous once we got to the Mitchell Lake Road, remaining that way for the rest of the approach. The exhaustion on the bike ride had psyched us out a bit, but now that we were skinning we were in our element. Getting to Mitchell Lake was no problem!

I didn't need this reminder about my pace, thanks.
A closer look at where we were headed.
First transition of the day. Not to last long.
Cruising! Mount Toll lit up, center stage.

No difficulties experienced yet! Usually at this point we had gotten a little lost, somebody was having gear problems, we'd been deterred by avy conditions, or a combination of these. The day was going surprisingly smooth. Maybe even too smooth. In order to un-jinx ourselves and our suspicious lack of complications, we took a slightly weird route up and around Blue Lake instead of taking the obvious route right across it. Phew, crisis averted!

Some pretty big wet slides coming from the Little Pawnee couloirs.
The party ahead of us seen in the prominent gully across Blue Lake. Proper route.

We were starting to become a bit more concerned with how the snow was warming up. There had been cloud cover the previous night, so we knew that we were more-or-less on time, but the snow down low was now getting blasted by the early morning sunlight. The warming wasn't enough to convince us to turn around, we decided, as long as we kept up our pace. It wasn't long before we made it to the basin below Toll's southeast face. We could see that there were two parties ahead of us, one already booting the face and the other just below the transition. We took a second to soak in the views before heading up right behind them.

Evan, as seen on my Instagram post. If it's not online, it didn't happen.
There's a reason this line is a classic.

I was happy to arrive to a well-made bootpack. The steps were maybe a bit big, but I confirmed later that it was already there when the first party found it! We all put on crampons (not necessary per se, but it felt more secure) and began climbing the StairMaster to the summit. The snow was getting to the point where we'd need to consider skiing sooner rather than later, but we evaluated every so often and decided that we could probably make it to the top before it would be unsafe. Before long, we were there! It felt good to finally be on a summit. I had summited Quandary earlier in the year (as our backup option that day), but otherwise had been trying and failing to complete objectives for a number of months. Maybe the streak is finally broken!

Yes! A pre-made bootpack!
The Indian Peaks are just so cool! I'll be coming back...
I always say, the worse the picture the better the times!

We took a second on the summit to appreciate the perfect conditions: I was wearing shorts and a t-shirt, there was hardly even a breeze (in the WINDian Peaks? never!), and the clouds had come back so the snow wasn't warming as quickly. A few minutes later and we were skiing perfect corn! My pack was heavier than I was used to, so when I let loose in the lower section of the face I practically flew. It was all over quickly, but well worth it. We had to hop over one rock section on the way out of the basin, but it was very avoidably had we paid more attention to the skintrack. We skated over Blue Lake, setting the precedent for the rest of the way out. An hour and a half of skating and misery later, and we were back at where we had left our bikes earlier that morning.

Evan showing off his steez.
Honestly, this part of the day hurt the most.
Some of the BS we put up with on the way out.
The approach is anything but downhill.

The bike ride back to the car would be easy. After deciding to take a dip in Brainard Lake (ranger-approved) we were on our way! Any ice we had encountered on the way up had melted, but that didn't stop Peter from crashing his bike in the remaining slush on the road. If something's got to go wrong in a day, I suppose we'll take a bit of a road rash over the alternative! All-in-all, a terrific day in the mountains!

Ready to cruise down to the lot.
A good rest stop on the way down the road.

Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):
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Comments or Questions
Nice Work!
05/30/2022 11:25
Sadly Mt. Toll is the only mountain I have climbed in Indian Peaks so far, but it sure is a fun one. Looks like you had a lot of fun out there!

05/31/2022 16:46
photographs of a beautiful place.

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