Uncompahgre Peak Ski Descent

After last month’s unsuccessful attempt, Carl, Marc, Eric, Rob, and myself again made the painfully long drive to Lake City to give Uncompahgre another go; a photo posted by climbers who were up the weekend before showed that our one point of concern was no longer an issue. After much deliberation on the drive down, we got started up the road at 2:30am. Unfortunately, our nice smooth skintrack had been wrecked by snowshoers, requiring a bit more effort on the approach. A little over two hours later, we were back at the summer trailhead and took a break to regroup and eat. Before 6am we gained the climber’s-right side of the gully, climbing up the (now bare) spot we dropped in to it last time. This was the first indication of how much had melted since we were here last. I saw some runnels adjacent to our trail, but it was hard to tell the extent of them – later in the day, we saw that it was quite significant. We stopped here briefly before pushing on.

Photo by Carl Dowdy

For whatever reason, I much prefer approaching in the dark. It was cold this night though, and I was happy to see the approaching sun. The morning was beautiful, and we put away our headlamps not long after 6am. We just about made it to the spot we turned around last time before sunrise, but missed it by a few minutes.

Photo by Carl Dowdy

Photo by Carl Dowdy

The view past the notch was beautiful. The clouds kept things dark for a bit, which I was happy with. The rest of the guys were happy when the sun came out and slowly started to warm things up. I didn’t get any photos of the gully on the way up (or down – though I got some video, which I may or may not get up) as it was a bit loose and steep, but the view from the summit ridge was spectacular. Carl pushed on ahead, and was the first to the top, with me closely behind.

Photo by Carl Dowdy

We took in the views on top for a few minutes while the rest of the group made it up. The ski off the top was not great, but it was there.

Photo by Eric Sangueza

Photo by Carl Dowdy

After downclimbing the gully and getting back on some snow, conditions were a bit better…

Photo by Carl Dowdy

…for a while at least.

Photo by Carl Dowdy

The ski down the road was pretty choppy as a result of the aforementioned snowshoers, but we all made it down in decent time, packed up, and headed for PowerStop in Gunnison to refuel from our eight and a half hour day.

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