Adventures of a Colorado (non) Native

By:  Ben
May 30, 2011

Luckily we soon found some sun and feelings of spring. Is it really here? We started out fairly early from the winter trailhead at Brainard Lake. From here we skinned along the closed road for a few miles before reaching the summer trailhead and the actual approach to Mt. Toll. We are told that most years the road is clear enough to ride your bike to the summer trailhead since the gait remains locked until June. But no such luck for us, so for now it’s a long skin in and a long skate out.

The Mt. Toll trailhead is a mere 35’ from home.

The peak offers a thoroughly mediocre view.

Despite our early(ish) start we didn’t make it to the summit cone until around 11am by which point boot penetration was getting towards the ankles. With the snow heating rapidly in the near-summer sun, we rushed to the top and dug a pit which told us that our greatest concern would be slough turning into a wet slide, but that we’d be alright if we headed down soon.

So we did.

But I still got some significant roller balls chasing me down the slope—next time we’ll have to get up a bit earlier.

Laura enjoys some beautiful spring corn on her way down to Blue Lake. The SSE face of Mt. Toll is just lookers left of the slough coming from the cliff band.

By the time we skied Mt. Toll I had skinned the 2.5 mile road to this trailhead five times in two weeks. The approach to the approach was growing monotonous so we opted for a change of scenery and headed up to Rocky Mountain National Park.

The day looked dismal at first and we tried to keep our morale up despite not being able to see the mountains through a thick layer of clouds. Rime crystals that formed during a nearly windless night were the highlight of the approach.

Sure not like the rime in the Presidentials.

Sometimes you’ve just got to press on, and so we did. Before long the sun started peaking through the clouds and a magnificent sky greeted us.

With the May sun now beating down, we quickened the pace in fear that we’d have to settle for mashed potatoes if we didn’t get there on time.

Laura baking in the heat with some gigantic cornices in the background.

Undercast tends to numb the pain of burning legs.

Quarter-til corn o’clock on the NE aspects Quarter-til corn o’clock on the NE aspects

Thanksgiving dinner at the lower elevations.

Once again we had a phenomenal day with weather that really was starting to feel like spring. I drove home giddy with thoughts of skiing steeper lines I’ve been eyeing all season, but this year Mother Nature and my mind haven’t been thinking alike. A quick check of the NOAA forecast showed yet another low pushing towards the Front Range. For the next three days my view of the mountains from work was obscured by thick clouds that would briefly subside to offer glimpses of freshly-blanketed peaks. A dawn patrol was clearly in order.

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Read about the author:   Ben
Enjoy this TR? Read another: A Week of Adventures on Mt. Shuksan Video+TR


  1. K_C
    wrote on May 31st, 2011 at 10:35 am  

    Awesome TR Noah! Looks like you guys are enjoying yourselves out there.

    • Noah
      wrote on May 31st, 2011 at 11:43 pm  

      Thanks KC, it’s been a phenomenal season out here. You and Greg should come visit if you’re getting the urge come July…

  2. Skimohr
    wrote on May 31st, 2011 at 2:38 pm  

    Nice report guys. I was skiing up in the Indian Peaks late last week, a zone I used to ski frequently while living in Boulder through the 90s… I can’t believe how chock full those mountains still are this year! No doubt, the snowpack is still full of surprises…but June is going to be epic. It will be a good month to get to bed early… Be safe and have fun out there.

    • Noah
      wrote on June 1st, 2011 at 12:20 am  

      Glad you got to experience the snow firsthand, it’s been a phenomenal season and the higher peaks aren’t showing many signs of melting yet. We were up by the Maroon Bells this past weekend and they’ve got significantly more than the Front Range. Shouldn’t be hard to get 12 months this year!

  3. Porter Haney
    wrote on May 31st, 2011 at 5:26 pm  

    Great write up, Noah. Glad to have you.

    Always fun to pack up the car and root around somewhere new. Keep it up!

    • Noah
      wrote on May 31st, 2011 at 11:47 pm  

      Sure is, you’ve got to mix it up sometimes. Although after skiing that April 8-9 storm in Utah I’m thinking SLC wouldn’t have been a bad option either! You guys have got it pretty good this year.

  4. Max
    wrote on June 1st, 2011 at 4:06 am  

    Pretty awesome Noah, beautiful pictures. Hope I get to see more of the front range through you soon…

  5. Peter
    wrote on June 1st, 2011 at 8:06 am  

    Endless Winter, keep it coming!

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