Where does hiking stop and mountaineering begin? When is it a Climb rather than a climb? It's a bit ambiguous, but here are a number of trips which make it in my estimation.
The Access Fund


Taylor Glacier, RMNP steep alpine ice

Taylor Glacier has been on my list for a long, long time, and it was well worth the wait. Climbing in September, Fabio, Aaron, Brian and I encountered beautiful alpine ice conditions on this super-steep, super-scenic snowfield. We also encountered some difficulties... and there in hangs the tale.

Notchtop Mountain, RMNP (Spiral Route, 5.4++)

The Spiral Route of Notchtop is a 5.4 in a spectacular setting, but there are lots of ways to get off-route. Despite coming fully armed with beta, Fabio, Ben and I managed to get off-route. But it was still spectacular and exposed and scrambly. A good day in the mountains.


Monte Paterno via De Luca/Innerkofler (moderate via ferrata in the Sesto Dolomites)

A spectacular circumnavigation of the famous Tre Cime di Lavaredo followed by a wild time on the tunnels and cables up a jagged foriegn peak. With Eric.

James Peak via Superstar Couloir (Very steep snow, 5.4 rock)

A big climb of a committing route. Snow up to 60 degrees with a fierce cornice above. Exit via some sketchy rock climbing. Biggest mountaineering trip I've done in a couple years. With Fabio and Scott.

Grays and Torreys via Lost Rat Couloir (Moderate snow)

A mellow mountaineering trip on an easy but aesthetic line. (with Scott)


Hallet Peak via Tyndal Glacier (Moderate snow)

Ice climbing in August? Cool! Dragging Eric up his first alpine climb and getting into some adventures along the way.

Pacific Peak via Consolation Couloir (Moderate snow)

The original plan was to climb the North Couloir on Pacific, but suspect snow conditions and poor weather forced us to improvise. Not the route we'd planned, but it turned out pretty well anyway. (with Jon and Jamie).

The Citadel via NE Couloir (Moderate snow)

A nifty peak and a nifty route (also my first time on a couloir in almost two years). The climb was pretty straight-forward, but the downclimb actually turned into the crux and most interesting part of the day. A great day from start to finish. (with Ben).


Meeker via Dreamweaver (very steep snow, ice, mixed)

I cannot get over how amazing this route is! We climbed steeply up a couloir sometimes only a meter wide, over three rock/ice cruxes separated by steep snow, to the summit of Mt. Meeker. After turning back last time at 13,100', it was great to come back in better conditions and finish the route (with Chris, Marella, and Mike)

Powell Couloir and Loch Vale (steep snow)

A wonderful, mellow trip to an area of RMNP I have never visitted (at least not when I could see the amazing spires around. Climbed the Powell Snowfields, then bagged the incredible Powell Peak and neighboring Taylor Peak on the way to a descent via Andrews Glacier (with Fabio and Michael.)

Longs Peak in via Trough (2nd winter attempt) (Class 3, steep snow)

A second try at a winter ascent of the long snow climb up Longs Peak's west face. This time, we started at 5:30 am from Black Lake and managed to make the summit before 10am. Conditions were great, except for strong winds, and it went off without a hitch. (with Fabio, Chris, Eric, and Brian.)


Drift Peak via Villa Ridge (Class 2, moderate snow)

It's only class 2, but qualifies as a mountaineering trip nonetheless. Along with five other highly-motivated and strong climbers, I made my third attempt at this innocent-looking peak in the Tenmile Range. The Villa Ridge proved to be much more interesting than it appeared from the bottom, and the final 900' of steep face was a mix of hard-packed snow (frontpointing!) and loose, uncosolidated fluff over talus (postholing!). The mountaineering aspect was further augmented by the bitter cold, deep snow, and high winds on the summit. Tough day, but thorougly satisfying. (with Andy, Fabio, Nelson, Jeff, and Dan).

Little Bear-Blanca Traverse, Sangre de Cristos, CO (4th class to 5.2)

Unlike the rest of the mountaineering trips on this list, this one had no snow at all. Not a speck of it. In fact, a little snow would have been nice! But it did have a mile and a quarter of solid 4th-class ridge between two of Colorado's hardest 14ers. Fearsome exposure, loose rock, and a spine-tingling emotional roller coaster. Scary stuff! Definitely the hardest trip I've done thus far.(with Mark)

Skywalker Couloir (with the Princess Leia finish!), South Arapaho Peak, IPW (very steep snow)

What a cool route! Hard snow at 45 degrees early on, softening and steepening to well over 60 degrees at the top. Definitely the most fun I've had on snow before. (with Chris, Mike, and Marella)

Grand Central Couloir, Nokhu Crags, Never Summers, CO (very steep snow)

This one has been on the list for years! I accompanied Andy and Fabio on a recon of the impressive Nokhu Crags. Unfortunately, a late start, crappy snow conditions, and remarkably fragile rock made it a bit more exciting than it could be. Still, it was a really remarkable place and definitely off the beaten track.(with Andy and Fabio)

Dragonstail Couloir, Flattop Mtn, RMNP (steep/very steep snow)

Amy's first couloir climb and my most challenging one to date. It was a great route in a spectacular setting with, needless to say, great company.
(with Amy)

Mount Bancroft Direct East Ridge (5.2)

This one was great. A group of five tackled a long 3rd-4th class ridge with a 50' rappel and 25' technical climb out of a notch. I got to realize one of my life-long dreams; traversing a knife-edge snow ridge with big air on either side.
(with Chris, Andy, Mike, and Marella)

Longs Peak attempt in Winter via Trough Couloir (steep snow and ice)

My first winter mountaineering trip didn't net us a successful summit of Colorado's most famous mountain, but we had a great time in an incredible place. We climbed from Glacier Gorge up the Trough Couloir on the west face of Longs Peak. Conditions were pretty good, but a late start and sore legs didn't cooperate.
(with Chris, Bill, and George)


Longs Peak via Keiners Route (5.4, AI1)

This was the big trip I'd been tooling up for all year. A long approach, a thousand feet of steep, bullet-proof snow, a couple pitches of easy to moderate rock leading at altitude, and then a marathon descent involving four rappels. The reality was a lot easier than I'd been expecting, but it took a very long time!
(with Chris and Peter)

Apache Peak via Apache Couloir (steep snow)

A casual mountaineering trip up a 45 degree couloir, some rock scrambling, and a blistering descent back to terra horizontal. Fantastic, casual trip.
(with Nathan)

Mount Meeker via Dreamweaver (attempt, 5.6, AI2-3)

I've been fascinated with this route for a while. Finally, I teamed up with a super-experienced friend-of-a-friend and tackled it. Snow conditions were less than ideal (far too much of it), and we ended up bailing out half-way up. Still, it was a wonderful and educational experience.
(with Brian)

Torreys Peak via Dead Dog Couloir (steep snow, descent of Kelso Ridge)

This was my first real snow climb of any consequence. I joined two people of similar skill and ambition levels to climb the wonderful Dead Dog Couloir to the summit of Torreys Peak followed by a harrowing and tedious descent of the famous Kelso Ridge route.
(with Andy and Fabio)


Pacific and Atlantic Peaks (moderate, exposed snow)

My first and only solo big mountain climb. I ascended the avalanche-safe north ridge to the perfect summit of Pacific Peak, then descended to the saddle and climbed the gentle north slopes of Atlantic. The mountaineering part came in on the long, windy, and exposed west ridge descent from Atlantic. My axe came in handy in several dicey moments!

Charles Danforth
Last modified: Wed Oct 5 08:32:56 MDT 2011