This is the first trip report I have posted on Summitpost.org. I've been an active member here for a while, so I figured it was time I posted one of these, especially since I own the Peak 10 page. So, here goes nothing...
Northeast Face Ski Descent of Peak 10 - May 16, 2005
The Northeast Face of Peak 10
I had been conversing via email with a new prospective climbing and skiing partner, Bill, for about a week before we decided to try out a ski together. We decided the Northeast Face of Peak 10 would be a good outing.
I arrived at the Spruce Creek trailhead at about 5:45. The snow closure was right at 10,440 feet, where the large summer parking areas are. I met Bill at the trailhead. After we exchanged some small talk, got our skins on our skis, and ate a little bit, we were skinning along the Crystal Creek road/trail by 6:15 or so.
The road was easy skinning, and soon we arrived in the Crystal Creek drainage. We turned onto the Wheeler Trail and proceeded straight up to the East Ridge of Peak 10. The skinning here was fairly steep and included a long traversing section where we both tried to avoid slipping.
At this point, high clouds had been above us, blocking the sun. We were concerned about the nature of the Northeast Face if it didn't get any sun before we tried to ski it. We hoped the clouds would blow off to help the snow corn up. It was still rock solid under our skis at 8:30.
After skinning over a few bumps on the way to the summit, we finally found ourselves on top. It was about 9:30, and unfortunately, it was still cloudy. We decided to don another layer and wait it out.
We took our time fiddling with gear and trying to take photos to waste time. There was a decent breeze up there, and I began to get a little cold. We both started to walk around to keep warm. Several times, we dropped onto the NE Face to see what the snow was like. Still rock hard...
10:15 and still no sun. It was playing mind games with us. It seemed to always be on the edge of the large cloud above us. We decided that we had waited long enough.
Bill and I carried our skis over a rocky section near the summit, and luckily found a flat area 30 feet below the summit to strap on skis. I tightened my boots and clicked in. Bill took off first and I could see him struggling on the hard snow. Soon he disappeared below a roll in the face.
When I saw him reappear well out of danger, he waved to me and I pointed my skis down the face. The first few turns were very difficult. The snow hadn't softened up at all, and I was punching through with each turn. I gingerly jump turned and took it slow. I stopped punching through after about 10 turns, and the snow was just very solid. I took my time and skied the rest of the face.
We were a little disappointed that the snow hadn't corned up for us, but I guess you can't win them all.
We skied around a bump on the ridge, and tried to edge toward the Wheeler trail. We had to carry our skis uphill for about 200 yards here until we were on the other side of the Peak 10 East Ridge. We chose a nice line here above the Lower Crystal Creek and skied down into the drainage. The snow here was great and we both enjoyed the mellow turns back to the treeline.
Once back at treeline, we skied quickly down the Spruce Creek road to our cars.
All in all, it was a great day in the mountains. We didn't get the perfect snow that we wanted, but we still had a great ski day in the backcountry. Peak 10 is a great little mountain with tons of great skiing.
"You cannot stay on the summit forever; you have to come down again. So why bother in the first place ? Just this: What is above knows what is below, but what is below does not know what is above. One climbs, one sees. One descends, one sees no longer, but one has seen. There is an art of conducting oneself in the lower regions by the memory of what one saw higher up. When one can no longer see, one can at least still know."