#10 French Mountain 13,940 ft.
Date: May 21, 2013
Team: Dav, Ted, Darcy Conover, Adam Mosczinski, Scott Rinckenberger, Jamie Starr
Route: Casco’s East Ridge and French’s Southeast Face
After Jones Mountain we headed home, wrapping up a fun week down in the San Juans. The break was short though, and after only a single day at home, we loaded up the Spyder RV and headed out again. Our goal– the mountains of the Sawatch Range near Leadville. (The map above shows our route. Disregard the straight lines between peak and trailhead– a GPS glitch.)
First up was actually a twofer– Casco Peak, 13,908 ft., and French Mountain, 13,940 ft. These two high summits are located right by Mount Elbert and Mount Massive and are often done as a pair. So after a comfy night in the RV along Halfmoon Creek, seven of us– Darcy Conover and Adam Mosczinski, Jamie Starr, Scott Rinckenberger, Dav, and I– headed up to Casco along the South Halfmoon Creek approach. (Unfortunately, Christy had to stay in Aspen to work a few days. She’ll hook up with us again soon.)
The route up the old mining road passes quickly, and once up high, we managed to climb and ski both peaks before things got too warm. And on another positive note, in addition to what seems to be a relative abundance of snow for this time of year, there was little to no dust visible. Apart from some serious slogging through rotten snow back to the trailhead, we all had a pretty awesome day.
Thanks to Scott for sharing some of his photos for this post.
Next up– Oklahoma.
Date: June 8 & 9, 2013
Route: Oklahoma’s East Ridge to Halfmoon Lake, Casco’s East Face, French’s South Face
Team: Christy, Lissa Ballinger, Anda Smalls
We’re pretty sure everyone has gotten over hearing about skiing at this point, but the snow just continued to hang on in the Sawatch Range so I was able to check off a few more peaks this past weekend. I had missed Mt. Oklahoma, Casco Peak, and French Mountain when Ted and Dav had skied them back in May, and had hoped I could get them done before the snow disappeared. The snow was definitely getting thin but still allowed for some really good last turns of the season.
On Saturday, Lissa Ballinger and I left Aspen at 4:30am to ski Mount Oklahoma, starting from the North Halfmoon Trailhead, following the trail to the lakes, and then gaining the summit ridge. Ted, Dav, and Jon Kedrowski had also done Oklahoma this way, which seems to be the most straightforward. We had great corn on the broad, east face and skied right back to the trail where we had switched from trail shoes to ski boots.
Chris, Ted, and I have all been trying to get ready for Lake City 50 miler next weekend, cramming in the running miles when we can. So back at the car, Lissa and I switched to running gear and drove the short way over to Turquoise Lake for a perfect 12+ mile loop around the lake before calling it a day. The trail around the lake offers amazing views of the surrounding peaks and runs along the sandy beaches for 6 miles, making it a really scenic run and fun way to enjoy Leadville.
The alarm went off again at 4:00am on Sunday, for one more day of backcountry skiing. Anda Smalls and I headed back to the same area to tag Casco and French before hangin’ them up for the season. We started at the French/Casco trailhead on Halfmoon Creek, just two miles past the Mount Massive Trailhead, the latter of which was overflowing with cars. Funny though, we didn’t see anyone all day. We had the beautiful basin all to ourselves for the and enjoyed every moment to its fullest.
That’s going to do it for the 2013 spring season for us, and what a good spring we had. Chris, Ted, and I are all near 85 Centennial Peaks skied (83, 85, and 84 respectively), which puts us in a good position to possibly finish next spring. It would help to have a more typical winter that the past two, but no matter how the snow comes in in 2014, we’re going to give it our best shot.
Next season will be here before we know it! Thanks for following along.