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 Post subject: TR: Mt. Evans North Face 05/27/07
PostPosted: Wed May 30, 2007 5:41 pm 
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Joined: Tue Feb 20, 2007 10:19 am
Posts: 543
Location: Capitol Hill, Denver, Colorado, U.S.A.
Mt. Evans -- 14,264'
Front Range, Rocky Mountains
Sunday, May 27, 2007
Ascent from Summit Lake via North Face
Descent from West of Summit via North Face
Participants: luca_brasi, snowsavage

On Saturday night, our weary band ended up high in the Blue River valley north of Silverthorne, NO WHERE NEAR our intended summit for the next day: Mt. Evans. However, your trusted narrator once again decided to book too many commitments with too many people on the Holiday Weekend, and flaking out on any of them would just be a no class move. However, once arriving, we decided that a late night bonfire party full of drunk women could have been very disastrous to the next day's mission!

The debate was heated and long, but when one unnamed team member exclaims "You guys talk a lot of shit about hitting big lines, but all you seem to do is drive around aimlessly!", it can lead to a very tense situation. Luckily we were able to avoid any internal fisticuffs and just decided to bivy right then and there and head up to Evans the next day.

The Burly Dude and I settled at the closest campsite on the highway while our New Mexican cousin slept in his car again higher up the highway. Although we didn't finally settle down until 11pm, we were up at 5am and drove uphill to wake up The Bong Gaffer. After knocking on his window, we were about to leave when the window on his truck topper slid open.

"What's up guys?"
"Let's go, man...HIT SOME BIG LINES!"
"Umm...I'm gonna sleep another half hour."
"Okay...later dude."

We had no time for games, so the group was reduced to two and we sped off to Evans. We arrived at the entrance gate to Mt. Evans Road at 630am, and there was no attendant on duty. There was, however, a modern-age automated pay machine with credit card logos all over it and a sign politly asking us to place our payment in the box. After a very brief episode of conscience, the ski bummer mentality took control and we sped past the box without dropping a courteous Lincoln.

For only the 3rd day this season, the road was open all the way to Summit Lake (12,845'), and by 7am there were already about 8 cars parked and the lot was bustling with the early rising weekend warriors, adjusting their skiing and mountaineering equipment, all ready to tackle the infinite opportunities in the huge alpine cirque. It was a cool vibe: everyone knew that the snow climb and ski season was waning, but the opening of the road was a huge milestone for those of us who wanted to end the season in style.

Image
Your narrator in front of the scenic North Face. Our coulior is dead center in the pic

We hiked up over the hill on the shoulder of the East face and down into the North Face cirque, almost directly below the summit. We subconsciously picked the couloir closest to the summit, with the best chance of going all the way up. At the start of the couloir, while assembling crampons, we were joined by a replacement third, The Boston Telemarker.

The couloir started out with a direct line northwest but near the top it took a more western slant. While kicking all the way up, I noticed several variations of snow conditions. Some parts were soft and fluffy and others were hard and slick (and steep!). It was pretty short, (about 800 feet) and we were up within an hour.

Image
Busting crust up the couloir

From the ridge it was about a 50 yard scramble to the summit. Down at summit lake, I could see the gapers and tourists start to pile up in the parking lot. But since the road was not open all the way to the summit (and the rest of the climbers and skiers were busy on the West Ridge), we enjoyed total solitude. Never have I felt so relaxed on top of a mountain that usually has a crowd the resembles a scene at Mann's Theater in Hollywood on a typical Summer Sunday.

Image
On the summit.

Image
View of our ascent line from skiers left of the summit.

Image
The Indian Peaks Wilderness to the North

The Burly Dude hit the descent first, and by watching him I could tell that we were still quite early to be riding the North Face. However, a little lower in the couloir we encounted more corny conditions. I personally gaffed it almost the whole way down, and our knee-dropping friend was having a very rough time.

Image
The Burly Dude dropping in

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Gaffing it with style

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I NEVER feel sorry for these guys...

The last 500 feet of the run was a wide open apron of corn. We were then able to look up at our line but also discover a very gnarly looking line directly on the north face.

Image
GFC at its best

Image
Our descent line in red.

By the time we returned to the parking lot at about noon, it was a complete circus. One Forest Service Ranger was directing cars like he was working a Nuggets Game. Two other younger rangers were digging dikes in the dirt lot to drain out the pools of slush and water. GAPERS...WERE...EVERYWHERE!!!

Even though it was obvious parking was going to be in demand, I had no plans to pack it up and leave just yet. We dropped all our gear behind the car, and i set up the stove and the Freedom Chair and prepared to be entertained.

Call me out for having a bit of the Coloraditude, but I never tire of feeling like a rock star in situations like this (The parking lot at Hidden Valley Campground in J-Tree is another). I caught one elderly couple from England taking a picture in front of my car. At first I thought they were trying to capture the mountain behind them, but they weren't facing the right way.

"We LOVE all your...gear!" they said to me.
"Thanks, but most of it is owned by Capital One and Citibank"
"Where did you ski?" they asked.
"Well...you see those tracks waaaaaaaay up there?" I pointed, and no other explanation was necessary.

Another character parked by me as I was emerging from the bathrooms and starting boasting about his knowledge of Bighorn sheep, in some primitive way to impress his girlfriend.

"Have you seen any Bighorn up here?" he sternly asked.
"No man...there's still snow up here. Those dudes hang out on the hot rocks."
"No!" he corrected me, "They should be up here. There's probably a whole bunch of them on the summit."
"Well, I was just up there...and there's no Bighorn." I shot his girl another look and peaced out back to the car.

On the way out, we took one last look up the center bowl of the cirque, and we noticed a small figure of a man and a dog...with a nicely placed skin track of 3 switchbacks below. The Bong Gaffer had actually shown...and there he was standing right in the middle of an epic looking line. He was standing in place for at least 20 minutes.

"What's he doing?" I asked the Burly Dude.
"Probably getting toked-out," he replied.
"I kind of want to see him hit this line."
"Man...do you know this kid by now? He's not going to move for another hour!"

One the way out, I DID have a change of conscious and paid the 5 bucks...in case you were wondering. :o





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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Thu May 31, 2007 8:08 am 
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Joined: Mon Oct 09, 2006 8:22 pm
Posts: 296
Location: Switzerland
Nice one!


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 Post subject: Re: TR: Mt. Evans North Face 05/27/07
PostPosted: Thu May 31, 2007 9:28 am 
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Joined: Fri Nov 19, 2004 8:41 pm
Posts: 1620
Location: Santa Cruz, CA
luca_brasi wrote:
Another character parked by me as I was emerging from the bathrooms and starting boasting about his knowledge of Bighorn sheep, in some primitive way to impress his girlfriend.

"Have you seen any Bighorn up here?" he sternly asked.
"No man...there's still snow up here. Those dude hang out on the hot rocks."
"No!" he corrected me, "They should be up here. There's probably a whole bunch of them on the summit."
"Well, I was just up there...and there's no Bighorn." I shot his girl another look and peaced out back to the car.

Classic! If only that exchange were captured on video... :)


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