Grizzly Peak – 13,988 ft.
It’s the tallest 13er in the state, and to many spring ski mountaineers it offers one of the most well-known and classic descents– the Grizzly Chute. Often reserved for the late days of spring when access is easy, the steep, north-facing couloir that drops from near the summit to Grizzly Lake can usually be skied well into June.
A typical day on Grizzly involves a drive up Independence Pass to Lincoln Creek Road, and a seven or so mile drive up to the Grizzly Lake trailhead. From the trailhead it’s about a three mile walk or skin up to Grizzly Lake, where the near 2,000 vertical foot couloir starts up to the summit. Skins and switchbacks work for the lower stretch of the couloir, but as it steepens you’ll ultimately switch to boots and crampons. Once at the top of the couloir you have the option of heading to the exact summit, a few hundred feet to the south, or suiting up and dropping in right there.
The three of us have skied this peak on several occasions. Multiple descent options exist on Grizzly, but it’s the main Grizzly Chute sees the most skiers, and when you approach this mountain, you’ll see why.