Thursday, May 20

Dawn Patrol

Call it new baby training if you wish. Waking up when everyone else is sleeping sure seems to pay off in the beauty department. I've always enjoyed sunrises.
Luckily Chad must too otherwise I think he'd tell me to go pound sand when I suggest getting up early *again* to squeeze another trip to the park in before *another* spring storm.
Besides the sun is coming up so early these days you can almost leave the headlamp at home.
Longs Peak from the west.
The hike to Emerald Lake is a quick one and quite handy that so many moderate alpine routes are available from there.
Chad and I were headed to the Dragonstooth aka Dead Elk couloir, adjacent to one we'd climbed a couple weeks prior.
Our route is the left most steep snow strip on the right half of the screen where the sun is almost reaching.
On the way in I checked out the Squid, a WI5 climb I've been curious about getting on. It came in recently due to our strange weather but two prior days of sunshine did a number on it. I'll have to wait longer as it's not climbable by me in it's current condition.
Clouds rolled in as we booted up the lower section of the couloir. That was fine with me as it kept temperatures cool and that meant our pace could be relaxed up the climb. Spring and summer the primary danger from avalanches (outside of new storm situations) is from wet slides. Clear nights and/or cloudy days keep the snow from warming and keep it safe. Early starts are also key.
Climbing conditions weren't as nice as our Dragonstail outing where we found more than half the couloir nicely iced up but I kicked steps and did some alpine crawling and up we went anyway.
The route gradually steepens as it climbs and there are a couple fun mixed bands to play in. Mostly however it consists of easy to moderate snow climbing for 1600 feet.
Chad makes his way through an optional mixed section on the right side of the couloir.
Oh so difficult. Just kidding. It is fun though and makes for a nice ropeless outing.
Chad following up the main mixed band. There was a few bits of ice in here to play with.Looking up the couloir.
After the rock step, more steep snow leads to the top with a few different exits possible. I headed more or less straight up to the top. Looking down from near the top.
The snow at the top firmed up a bit and treated us to a nice topout. We chatted with a couple groups of skiers, looking to head the opposite direction and made our way down to the car. Breakfast awaited us in Estes before heading home to free the doggies and do some chores. Now to get my skis mounted while the next storm rolls through and settles out.

1 comment:

Marni said...

Beautiful pictures!!