Nothing terribly exciting here and we forgot to bring along the camera. This will be a short report. To celebrate New Years, Amy and I resolved to climb a good, winter peak. Peak 10 in the tenmile range (13,633') is reportedly just such a peak. Avalanche danger can be minimized by sticking to its eastern ridge and the whole thing is a steep 7 miles round trip.
We easily located the Spruce Creek TH south of Breckenridge and set out at a leisurely 9:30 am. Good weather and hard-packed snow for the first 1.5 miles meant no snowshoes. A strenuous climb up a 4wd road which paralleled the Crystal Creek. Finally emerged at Francies Cabin at tree line for a quick bite to eat. Impressive place which somewhat pushes the limits of 'cabin'. The great Crystal Creek drainage revealed Mounts Helen, Father Dyer, Crystal and Peak 10 (left to right). Not much snow on many of the slopes but a few clear avalanche bowls.
We set out on snowshoes finally for the ridge on the north side of the valley. Once we climbed a steep (30-degree) slope, we gained a faint trail and proceeded upward on steep, hard-packed snow for the visible trail slabbing across the ridge. I started to experience painful intestinal cramping and, shortly after gaining the trail at about 12,000', we had to turn back. The weather was deteriorating anyway and it was already noon.
We picked our way back down and I immediately began to feel better. We paused on a low-angle gully filled with wind-loaded snow and did some avalanche research. Snow pits showed about 8" of hard, windpack followed by about three inches of sugary snow. Then there was a layer of crust followed by more moderate-density snow. The top 8" slid easily under shovel pressure. Very interesting stuff and fun playing in the snow.
We descended back to the cabin and thence to the trailhead. On the way, we were able to shovel-slide down the steeper parts of the trail picking up some serious velocity along the way. Yee-ha! We arrived back at the car at about 3 and took a leisurely drive home.
It's too bad we had to turn back but it was still nice to get out into the high country and scout out a new place. Crystal Peak, the monarch of the valley, is an interesting looking peak and the surrounding summits show craggy, impressive faces. The two lakes in the valley would likely be spectacular in the summer. I'm already planning out a route (shown in blue on the map above) to bag three summits and take in some impressive scenery come summer time.
The Wilderness Journal