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 Post subject: TR - Mt Audubon 13,223'
PostPosted: Mon Mar 12, 2007 12:06 pm 
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Joined: Fri Feb 17, 2006 10:10 am
Posts: 1188
Location: Denver
2007/03/09 - Mt Audubon 13,223'
13 Miles, 3,375' Gain
10.5 Hours
#181/637

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Given the gift of friday off, I decided to make another attempt at Mt Audubon, perhaps snowboarding a chute I had seen from my previous visit. Despite protests, I awoke at 4:00am and made my way to the winter TH for Brainard Lake around 6:00am. I left my truck at 6:15am and began hiking up the closed road. I had remembered the conditions from last time and decided to boot pack up to the Mitchell Lake TH, no skinning necessary. I didnt quite make it to Brainard Lake for magical lighting time, but the views were still impressive.

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Apache

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Kiowa?

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An area that needs some further exploration ^^^

I made good time to the Mitchell Lake TH, then continued on to the SE cirque on Audubon to investigate this maginificent chute I saw from the previous effort.

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I switched to ski mode at the TH and was glad to find firm snow with 1-2 inches of soft on top, made for quick and effecient travel. I quickly lost the trail and just struck out N/NW towards the area of interest. At about 10,800' I removed the skis and hiked up a snow covered boulder field to gain access to the upper basin of Mt Audubon.

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Pauite

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Toll

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Self portrait

Once I reached the upper basin, travel was easier as I skinned up the valley. I started to evaulate the snow at this point. The snow was quite firm underfoot, and there was no evidence of avalanche activity. I noticed some significant windloaded slopes at the western end of the cirque. It wasnt long before I reached the bottom of the chute. I had a feeling snow in the chute would be very firm, due to the amount of wind and sun exposure it recieved. My thoughts were proved correct as I began climbing towards the entrance...

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Well hello there....

The snow was very firm at the entrance, and after a quick evaluation, I decided to climb up further to investigate. The snow was perfect for climbing as I booted up the chute. Three or four swings with the AT boots would get me in about 5 inches. I knew this would be an "interesting" descent.

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Even though the chute had been getting direct sunlight for about an hour now, the snow did little to soften up. At this point any worry I had of slide potential was replaced by descending it safely. I reached the choke of the chute, and decided to stop here. I dug out a platform to sit in and have a rest.

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During the next 30 minutes I rearranged some of my gear for the descent and waited in hopes the snow would soften up a bit. I made the decision that it wasnt quite warm enough to turn soft, so better just start heading down. I used the platform to put on my board, and got my ice axe ready for self arrest. After finally putting the weight on my heelside edge, I just stood there for awhile, building up the courage for the first jump turn. My thoughts were entirely focused on staying on edge, no corn snow here. I counted down and went for it, jumping to toeside with ice axe at the ready. I slid probably 2 feet before coming to a stop. That wasnt too bad, certainly not the soft snow I had hoped for, but I would be able to get down. I repeated this process several more times, occasionaly throwing in the axe for support. Eventually I made it down far enough to take advantage of about 1/2 inch of hard corn on the right hand side of the chute. I got about two turns out of that, before going back onto the hardpack for the remaining descent. All in all it was survival skiing with about 2 fun turns. I was glad to be at the base again.

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At this point it was around 11:30am and I was still feeling good. I decided to make an attempt for the summit of Mt Audubon, doing an ascending traverse up snowy boulders to the NE to gain the east ridge proper.The winds really started to pick up now. I stopped once to put on goggles and stash my snowboard/sail at the top of an east facing sastrugi slope. At 1:30p I reached the summit and quickly sought shelter behind a made made wind break.

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Winds were around 40 mph sustained which made for some difficult photography. I did get nice views of Longs peak and numerous other peaks in the IPW. Including this nice looking line for a future trip:

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Nice views of the Gore Range

I left the summit at 1:45pm and began the quick descent of Audubon's east slopes down the Audubon Trail. After some not so fun sastrugi turns down the upper bowl, I put the board back on my pack and battled the winds down to well below treeline. Around 11,000' I finally made some fun turns through the trees towards South St Vrain Creek. I ended up dropping a little too far and missed Brainard Lake entirely. Luckily the snow was firm underneath the top few inches, as I was able to make my own way doing a skinning SE traverse, where I eventually caught back up to the trail around Red Rock Lake. I was glad to be back on the road at this point, as my energy reserves were getting low.

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I decided to stop for a snack and some water and just as I turned around I saw a small animal, which I believed to be someone's dog trotting down the road behind me. Without breaking stride it just came right up to me and sat down on a rock about 5 feet away. It turned out to be a fox. It just stood there for a few minutes checking me out, as if to say well done or something. I slowly took of my pack to get at my camera, but I guess he wasnt too interested in that and continued down the road towards the TH. By the time I finally got my camera out he was pretty far away, so this is the best shot I could get.

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This little visit was a great reminder of why I love being out alone in the "off season". I gathered up my things and finished the descent back to my truck, which I reached around 4:30pm. Even though the snow left a lot to be desired, it was another great day in the hills...


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Mon Mar 12, 2007 12:26 pm 
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Joined: Thu Jun 29, 2006 3:10 pm
Posts: 42
sick dude! nice solo TR. apache couloir and queens way is looking good

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Mon Mar 12, 2007 12:38 pm 
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Joined: Fri Feb 17, 2006 10:10 am
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Location: Denver
Let me know................ :)


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Mon Mar 12, 2007 12:53 pm 
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Location: California
Fabulous pics man! That aint no digi point and shoot.

Props on the reporting and safe solo mission too! :thatrocks:


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Tue Mar 13, 2007 8:27 am 
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Joined: Sun Dec 10, 2006 12:06 pm
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Location: JH
What a great TR. Great pics and commentary to boot. Even though the conditions were sketch it sounds like a great time.

Thanks

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Wed Mar 14, 2007 10:01 am 
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Location: Boulder
Looks like a beautful day in the IPW.
Yes, that is Kiowa peaking and looming over Niwot Ridge. Unfortunately it is totally off-limits to the general public. Arikaree lurks to the west of it, which is an amazingly lovely peak, also off-limits.
Seems like it's on for steeper lines, finally.
Congratulations on your safe return.

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Wed Mar 14, 2007 10:09 am 
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Location: Boulder
Quote:
An area that needs some further exploration

It's short and sweet. good to go to with a friend or two to pack out a staircase for multiple runs, but really, after the long road approach in season, it's best to pass it by and head higher for longer runs.
Heading to the top of Niwot Ridge via the Lefthand Reservoir Road accesses lovely low-angle runs with panaramic backdrops of the "Grand Cirque" and Blue Lake valley. You can also drop East from the top of Niwot Mountain and ride the avy chutes in the trees down to the Peak-to-Peak Highway. Top third excellent, middle third fun, lower third rabbit-chasing. But long!

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Thu Mar 15, 2007 8:08 am 
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Joined: Mon Oct 09, 2006 8:22 pm
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Location: Switzerland
Nice TR HikeforTurns.
Excellent pictures as well.

That must have been quite impressive to sit 5ft away from the fox!


Friday March 23 is my day off.....let's do something like that together.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Thu Mar 15, 2007 12:10 pm 
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Cool looking fox! I didn't know they turned black (or are there black species?) Nice work.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Fri Mar 16, 2007 9:34 am 
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LBR wrote:
Yes, that is Kiowa peaking and looming over Niwot Ridge. Unfortunately it is totally off-limits to the general public. Arikaree lurks to the west of it, which is an amazingly lovely peak, also off-limits.


I think they are only off limits during the day, at night all bets are off! :wink: We climbed them two summers ago, as they fall under a couple of my "lists". Id like to ski the Arapaho Glacier someday as well, looks like a nice run. As long as I dont defecate in the water drainage or anything I see little effect of humans entering these areas....

IridePow wrote:
Friday March 23 is my day off.....let's do something like that together.


I may have that off too, but prob wont know until thursday. I have many ideas, lets see what happens to the snowpack this week.....

BGnight wrote:
Cool looking fox! I didn't know they turned black (or are there black species?) Nice work.


I think its just a "morph" variation on the red fox, due to the white tipped tail, but Im not a Wildlife Biologist?


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Thu Mar 22, 2007 4:51 pm 
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Location: Ft. Collins, CO
Nice. I'll never forget hiking this peak in the summer and having a naked,old man come running by us from behind,about half way down. Sick-O Perv


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Thu Mar 22, 2007 9:49 pm 
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Location: Lander, WY
Super sweet with nice lines. Thanks for the stoke.

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