IntroThe goal for our trip was the summit of James Peak with a ski/board descent. Eric was tele-skiing and skinning and I was snowboarding and boot-packing.
Starting OutEric and I left Boulder at 445am and after a stop for coffee and breakfast, we arrived at the St. Mary’s Glacier parking lot at 6am. Fall River Road is snow free with a few wet spots.
We decided to carry our ice axes and crampons in case of any steep ice or hard pack snow. After packing our bags, we hit the trail at 630am and quickly made our way to the base of the glacier. The sunrise on the glacier and cliffs was spectacular.
The snow on the glacier was consolidated and hard and the hiking was pretty easy. The sky was clear with a few clouds and the weather was looking great.
Top of glacier to James Peak properAt the top of the glacier, we had our first view of James Peak and the rest of the climb. I was beginning to feel the weight of carrying my board and boots and gear.
The flat area stretching from the top of St. Mary’s to the base of James Peak was larger than I expected. We walked/skied on patches of snow to a rock-outcropping a few hundred yards from the glacier and had a quick snack and drink.
The views of the surrounding peaks in all directions (Mt. Bancroft, Grays and Torreys) were amazing. Some small clouds were forming to the south, so we decided to make the break a quick one and keep moving.
To the SummitOnce we reached the base of James Peak, we climbed northwest up steepening snow slopes to around 12,800 feet. We could see the rest of the climb from this point and several ski lines from the summit.
Eric was fine on his skis but I was starting to punch through the snow as the suncrust began to melt. We gained the southeast ridge to get off the snow as the wind began to pick up and the temperature was dropping.
We left our skis and board at about 13,100 so we didn’t have to regain any elevation after skiing down. We made the summit at 11am with a strong wind blowing from the west. After a few photos and signing the register, we headed back to our gear to start the second part of the trip – the skiing and boarding. Since we carried our axes this whole way, we chose to use them and glissade for a few hundred feet.