#32 Mount Oklahoma 13,845 ft.

Date: May 22, 2013
Team: Dav, Ted, Dr. Jon Kedrowski, Scott Rinckenberger
Route: East Face Couloirs

In the forefront of our thoughts this day were the victims of the tornado that struck Oklahoma earlier this week.

Tragedies such as this serve as a reminder of how precious life is, and how it is too often cut short by unexpected events. Our thoughts and prayers go out for the victims of the tornado.

mount oklahoma, jon kedrowski, chris daveport

Dav and Jon approach the big east face of Oklahoma. Our ski line was the narrow couloir indicated.

We had a great day on this Centennial summit. It’s central location in the state affords commanding views of most of the state– from the Elks to the Gores to the San Juans. But even being able to see far away mountains, what stood out to us was how much snow was right where we were– the Sawatch– and how little dust and dirt was present. That makes for better skiing, better photos, and a longer season. That’s good news for those who haven’t yet hung up their gear for the summer, it should be possible to ski well into June on the north faces of some of these peaks.

See you out there.

mount oklahoma

On top, with Mount Massive as the backdrop.

mount oklahoma

Off the top and onto the East Face.

ted mahon, mount oklahoma

On the upper slopes.

ski mount oklahoma

As we skied the east side, Jon went down Oklahoma’s SE Ridge in hopes of getting some photos. You can barely see him out there. Elbert, French Mountain, and Casco Peak can be seen in the distance.

mount oklahoma, chris davenport, centennial skier

Unlike the San Juans, the snow up here in the Sawatch is white and still has a bit of winter to it. Dav jump turns down the East Face.

chris davenport, mount oklahoma

Dav in the coolie. It was pretty fun, and pretty tight. Scott Rinckenberger photo.

ted mahon, mount oklahoma

My turn in the couloir.

And another Dav shot by Scott.

And another Dav shot by Scott.

scott rinckenberger, mount oklahoma

Scott’s turn in the couloir.

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

Centennial skiers, casco peak, christy mahon

On top of Casco Peak last Sunday.

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.

Centennial skiers, mount oklahoma,

A side view of Oklahoma, showing plenty of snow still up high, and on the backside of the ridge in view (to the north), which was our ski route.

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.

Centennial skiers, halfmoon lakes, mount oklahoma,, christy mahon

Approaching the Halfmoon Lakes on the route up Oklahoma. The east face can be seen to the top left of the photo.

lissa ballinger, cenennial skiers, mount oklahoma

Lissa on the descent back down to the lake. The roundtrip stats for the day were: 6 hours, 8.3 miles, and 3935 vertical ft. climbed.

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.

halfmooon creek, centennial skiers

Brrrr. Ted, Chris and the gang drove through the creek here back when they skied Casco and French in May, but the water was much higher today so we opted to walk through the freezing cold, recently melted snow.

christy mahon, centennial skiers

The upper crossing was running high too. We were probably within a week of the peak runoff for the spring.

Christy Mahon, Casco peak, centennial skiers

Skiing Casco.

christy mahon, centnennial skiers

After Casco (behind) we traversed up and over to French Mountain, which was even thinner.

christy mahon

Nearing the summit of French. The line on Casco can be seen behind.

Anda Smalls, centennial skeirs

Anda and me on the summit.

french mountain, christy mahon

This dwindling patch of snow offered the ski descent from the top.

anda smalls, french mountain

Anda takes the ribbon down to the lower ski lines on French.

Anda Smalls, french mountain

Some pretty good June snow lead us (Anda seen here) all the way back to the road down in the valley.

Christy mahon, centennial skiers, french mountain

It had a closing day feel for sure.

French Mountain, christy mahon

Definitely thin and going fast, but good for a checkmark on our list. #84, done!

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.
Christy

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