Forums Trip Reports Sayres Peak, 5.17.13
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  • #578700
    1490 Posts

    Braal and I made the trip to the La Plata TH on Thursday, and slept there in his van. We set the alarms for 3:30 AM, and were on the move at 4:30. The approach consisted of the usual late spring mixed bag of dry trail, skinning tangled willow mazes, creek crossings, and, finally, smooth skinning in the upper reaches of La Plata Gulch. We hoped for good snow conditions on Sayres’ beautiful 2000′ N. Face.

    We saw an interesting ice formation burbling forth from the snow.

    As we got a little closer, we were somewhat disappointed with the amount of wet slide debris on the face. The central line dropping just slightly to the lookers right of the highest peak is known as X rated, and we had hoped to descend this, but there was no way to make a clean descent via it without a nasty side slipping and/or down climbing through at least 500 feet of 3′-4′ high frozen debris fields. We opted to take the central couloir instead, where the majority of the descent would be on relatively smooth snow.

    The climb went relatively quickly via crampons on the nicely frozen surface, and we found ourselves on the summit by 9:30 AM, pretty good time considering the 5 mile approach and nearly 4000′ of elevation gain. Braal on the summit, surrounded by a sea of peaks.

    After a couple of hours resting and waiting for the snow to soften adequately, we dropped in. We had to dodge some debris, but for the most part the descent was highly enjoyable, on mostly smooth corn snow. This is our descent line, and the valley we came up is visible in the background.

    barrows on the descent

    And braal, debris dodging

    braal reflecting on the descent

    The descent was highly enjoyable, and well worth the walk. BTW, for those interested in it, it looked like La Plata’s N Face Couloirs were in excellent shape, but I would recommend getting after them quick. I have now been up this drainage three times, and will likely return again. I think next time I will wait for a season where we have good stability in late March or early April, when one can skin all the way in, and ride on stable spring powder with good coverage. The lines on Sayres are definitely worth a second go.
    A parting shot (BTW this crossing was on verglassed logs on the way in, sketchy)

    All photos by barrows except the ones of me, courtesy ABP.

    407 Posts

    Very nice barrows, good to see you still out there!

    700 Posts

    Cool TR, great documentation! Wet slide debris, runnels, and high snow lines all conspire to lower my motivation this time of year, but days like the one you describe are what keep me psyched.

    1490 Posts

    Thanks SD and Nick.
    Here in CO we have had a weird “spring” to say the least. It basically snowed all April, and stayed pretty cold, so winter snowpack instabilities did not really go away like they usually do. This was followed by some very hot weather, prompting wet slides of the new snow in a lot of places (and sometimes stepping down deep). Kind of screwed our spring riding season in a lot of ways. Usually we can find smooth corn riding in the alpine in May and early June on most aspects; add in the dust layer and it gets really tough to find good snow on the lines we want to ride.
    It is still possible to find good snow, one just has to be motivated, and willing to choose alternate lines. A little frustrating for those of us with “hit lists” though!

    38 Posts

    Good stuff Barrows, thanks for the pics. Way to farm out the good stuff!!


    Nice! May not be the best spring for you, but that didn’t look like a bad day at all. Way to chip at that hit list!

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