We climbed and backcountry skied Hayden Peak today (AKA Ski Hayden), a 4,316 vertical foot classic backcountry ski climb near Aspen. Snow
conditions nearly everywhere are still transitioning from winter to spring corn.
|We tried skiing under the letters ".com" in the photo above. Mistake. The pack had a nice "eggshell" crust up to about 9:00 AM, then it all went to punk and might have even been somewhat dangerous. It was fun climbing the peak, but I can’t say the skiing was all that great.
Give it another couple of sunny days and cool nights, and be at the summit before 9:00
AM. If we go tomorrow, we’re doing something quicker and making sure we’re there early. Below are some shots from the day.
|I always enjoy the view of Pyramid Peak’s east face from Hayden. Route to gawker’s right is Chris Landry’s famous 1978 descent of the direct east face. Route to left
is the Konsella/Prentiss line, done in 2000. Landry’s extreme route is the only ski descent that goes from Pyramid’s summit, though it can be modified by exiting to the Peak’s north cirque after you ski the upper 1,000 vertical (that’s what we did when Jeff Maus and I skied it during my "ski the ‘teeners project."
In the morning, who showed up at the trailhead but Aspen architect Al Beyer and his backcountry skiing crew — they climbed and skied like they could do anything — I’d follow these guys anywhere! This group shot was taken on the summit, Aspen Mountain and Richmond Ridge at middle right. Al in foreground, Louie over on the right.
Beyer is well known in Aspen for his beautiful backcountry hut designs — especially the sublime Benedict huts. These guys were good role models for Louie. Gentleman to right, with large shovel sticking out of pack, shared about saving his friends life (guy in yellow jacket) when they got avalanched on this very same mountain. Story is they were skiing the Stammberger Face (a steep run on Hayden), dug a snowpit they didn’t like the look of, and while climbing out of their pit location a slab fractured. It left one guy standing, and swept the other away and buried him. Quick work with beacon and shovel, and the story is one of a life saved! Good work boys!
|Louie Dawson backcountry skiing off the summit of
"Ski" Hayden (the actual Mt. Hayden is connected by a ridge to this high point). The glisse was good here, then went bad as we tried to find corn off the ridge to left. We would have done better simply skiing down where Louie is headed. Beyer and his buds down below tried to point us away from the sun baked mank we thought would be velvet corn, but they were too far away to see clearly so we missed some good turns. Should have handed them a 2-way radio before they left the summit. We’ll be more careful with our strategy next time — an earlier start is really all we needed.
WildSnow.com publisher emeritus and founder Lou (Louis Dawson) has a 50+ years career in climbing, backcountry skiing and ski mountaineering. He was the first person in history to ski down all 54 Colorado 14,000-foot peaks, has authored numerous books about about backcountry skiing, and has skied from the summit of Denali in Alaska, North America’s highest mountain.