South Arapaho Peak (13,397ft), Indian Peaks Wilderness
West Couloir - 5/19/2007
Hippy_Prophet, Dave, IridePow
Hippy_Prophet sent me an email on Thursday to make some plans for the weekend. Several ideas were tossed around, but then Dave came up with a great idea in the Indian Peaks Wilderness.
This area is basically his backyard and he spied a nice line two years ago. The only thing I knew was, that it is something steep, west facing.... and that in his 20 years backcountry skiing he never heard of or seen anybody skiing this line.
Sounded interesting to me!
We started from the 4th of July Trailhead and went up the Arapaho Pass Trail.
We went past the skywalker couloir:
We were not super confident that the line will go. It seemed to have less snow in that area than other years.
That's why we opted to take a closer look from the bottom instead of climbing South Arapaho Peak via the East Ridge.
So Dave where is this line???
Did not look as promising as the picture from 2 years ago (Mid May 2005).
Taken from the peak west of South Arapaho Peak.
A little bummed due to the lack of snow, but still eager to drop this line we decided to climb up the couloir to check out if it will go.
About half way up we were psyched to find out that the line will go. There was definitely less snow than in 2005 when Dave took that picture. But besides two or three tricky parts where we would have to navigate through some rocks we definitely would have an epic ride in front of us!
On the Summit:
Hey little guy what's up?
Hippy_Prophet making some friends:
Mount Neva in the west:
Another scenic shot:
We could start right from the summit, but had to take the skis/splitboard off for a few steps to get into the couloir. On a good snow year you definitely can ski it right from the top.
Looking down our line:
Dave dropping in:
Hippy_Prophet pointing it:
Dave enjoying the middle part:
First rocks to navigate around (about half way down):
Lower part of the couloir:
Below the half way mark:
The free heelers going for the style points:
Another few rocks at the bottom:
Hippy_Prophet milking the last few turns in the apron:
Done with the 1600ft couloir.
Steepness varied from 40 to 45 degrees. Maybe a few degrees steeper on top.
There were still another 400ft skiing before we had to start hiking back to the trailhead.
The line we skied:
(picture from mid May 2005)
Thanks Dave for this great suggestion.
It was a blast to hit this line!
Good variety of snow climbing, technical riding and route finding.
It definitely is bony in spots, could you north towards the Brainard Lake area? If so, how was coverage up that direction?
You must be super stoked to have connected a possible first line. Nice.
I did not really ride yet in the Brainard Lake area, so it's kind of hard for me to judge. But I think the coverage is probably not too bad.
I can check with Dave, maybe he has some more pics.
As for the possible first line:
It's kind of hard to imagine to get a first line in that area, since it is quite popular. However this line is very hidden. You can not see it from the bottom nor the top, only from this one peak west of S. Arapaho Peak. So maybe we did it, we do not know for sure.
It was an epic ride nonetheless.
How was the approach? Dry at the TH?, did you skin some of it?
We bootpacked (crampons in the couloir) all the way to the summit.
We could have also skinned maybe about 300 vert to the bottom of the couli though.
The TH is dry, still quite a few snow patches on the trail up to the mine, but can be easily hiked.
From the mine on you could start skinning towards Neva, but would have to take the board of a few times.
On the way out I slid the last 300vert in split mode.
This way I could avoid postholing to a point about 200 vert below the mine.
I did not really ride yet in the Brainard Lake area, so it's kind of hard for me to judge. But I think the coverage is probably not too bad. I can check with Dave, maybe he has some more pics.
As for the possible first line: It's kind of hard to imagine to get a first line in that area, since it is quite popular. However this line is very hidden. You can not see it from the bottom nor the top, only from this one peak west of S. Arapaho Peak. So maybe we did it, we do not know for sure. It was an epic ride nonetheless.
Statement from Dave:
Haven't been in those drainages yet this year. But in any year, the coverage is fantastic right now. Any and all peaks up there can be skied right now -- Toll, Audubon, Paiute, Apache, etc., not to mention a zillion couloirs along the ridges. Guaranteed satisfaction.
Joined: Tue Feb 20, 2007 10:19 am Posts: 527 Location: Capitol Hill, Denver, Colorado, U.S.A.
Thanks for the info on the IPW, haven't had a chance to get that far north, but hopefully late next week I can make it up there and try to do Toll or Audobon.
The IPW has some sick lines but from my experience it involves some grueling approaches up creek drainages. Maybe as spring turns to summer more of the 4x4 roads will be open making an easier approach.
Iridepow, do you have any info about these roads? (particularly the one by the CU research facility. I forget the name of the road but I was up there two weeks ago and the gates were still closed)
_________________ Riding a '06 Voile Split Decision Freeride 173, '07 Salomon Malamutes, Spark Ignition I bindings.