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Starter Snow Climb

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Starter Snow Climb

Postby lcar6 » Wed Feb 26, 2014 3:59 pm

I've been lurking for a while and finally decided to jump in with a question. I want to do an easier snow climb as a beginner climb this winter/spring. I'm going to be with the wifey so anything requiring ropes will be out of the question (for now...working on that!). It'll be a first for both of us, so I'd like to ease into it. We have crampons and axes, so we should be good there. I assume things need to settle a bit before the avy danger is acceptable, but any recommendation on when and where would be greatly appreciated! I was thinking Apache, Queensway or maybe Crooked Couloir on Audubon. Thoughts?

Thanks!
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Re: Starter Snow Climb

Postby Dave B » Wed Feb 26, 2014 9:09 pm

Queensway would be a great first climb, the only problem is that you have to down climb (plunge step) the route to get back to the base, the same would go for Apache couloir which is a bit steeper. The down climb isn't bad, but it spooked me when I did Queensway as my first years ago. There are 3rd class ledges just north of the Navajo snowfield/south of arapaho which could possibly be descended by will likely still be covered with snow.

Crooked on Audubon would be nice, it's ~45 degrees in the middle with an easy walk off. Same could be said for Curvaceous on Pauite, but that will require a very short 3rd class step on the ridge between Pauite and Audubon to get down.

Other good first climbs:
1. Lost rat on Grays
2. Tuning Fork on Torreys (at 3,000 feet of couloir, you'll get your fill)
3. Angel "couloir" on Shavano (very easy but long drive)
4. Gatorade on Neva
5. The trough on Longs (requires 3rd class to summit)
6. Ptarmigan fingers on Flattop (left branch)
7. Any of the glacier snow fields in RMNP (except Taylor which is very steep at the top)


***edit*** these are listed with the assumption of being spring/summer routes (i.e. May-June) no winter routes
Last edited by Dave B on Wed Mar 05, 2014 3:30 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Starter Snow Climb

Postby Sunny Buns » Thu Feb 27, 2014 6:27 am

You say you have crampons and axes. Do you AND your wife have experience with them?

If your experience is lacking might try some snow hikes to alpine lakes, etc. That is IF you are knowledgeable about avalanches - if not you need to stay on safe routes only. Have you been trained in avalanche safety?

Have you been trained to navigate with map and compass? Do you own a compass with adjustable magnetic declination? Your GPS will fail when it is needed most - it's in the fine print of the warranty. :)

Do you know what the 10 essentials are and do you both have them? Are you both fit enough to carry adequate gear to survive the night in a storm?

Be safe and have a good time. Take sun screen and glasses.
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Re: Starter Snow Climb

Postby MattK » Thu Feb 27, 2014 1:27 pm

Boudoir Couloir on Horseshoe is a good start as well. Really, really tame.

http://www.summitpost.org/boudoir-couloir/193964
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Re: Starter Snow Climb

Postby lcar6 » Thu Feb 27, 2014 2:51 pm

Sunny Buns wrote:You say you have crampons and axes. Do you AND your wife have experience with them?

If your experience is lacking might try some snow hikes to alpine lakes, etc. That is IF you are knowledgeable about avalanches - if not you need to stay on safe routes only. Have you been trained in avalanche safety?

Have you been trained to navigate with map and compass? Do you own a compass with adjustable magnetic declination? Your GPS will fail when it is needed most - it's in the fine print of the warranty. :)

Do you know what the 10 essentials are and do you both have them? Are you both fit enough to carry adequate gear to survive the night in a storm?

Be safe and have a good time. Take sun screen and glasses.


We have pretty good 3-season backcountry experience, so the 10 essentials, navigation stuff and hoofing packs are pretty well covered. We have been through pretty basic avalanche training, but I'm sure we could definitely use more. Our crampon and tool experience is pretty much limited to ice climbing, but we intend on joining some friends later this year to practice self-arrest with the axes. The thing is that we have only really been doing snowshoeing and limited scrambling during the winter since we moved out here. So really, we are trying to fill our experience gap in the 30° to 75° snow angle range! :lol:
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Re: Starter Snow Climb

Postby Sunny Buns » Fri Feb 28, 2014 1:07 am

So really, we are trying to fill our experience gap in the 30° to 75° snow angle range!


That's what I was afraid of. The original post mentioned a winter/spring climb and that you might be beginners. Avalanches occur on slopes in that angle range.

At least, prior to your outing, get the local avalanche report. And carry beacons.

FREE March 6 class at REI in Denver: http://www.rei.com/event/54981/session/83629

REI Transceiver classes: http://www.rei.com/class/46701/market/320
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Re: Starter Snow Climb

Postby jjust » Fri Feb 28, 2014 11:00 pm

I really think Angel of Shavano is a good starter snow climb. Low angle with a run out in case something happens.

http://www.justhiking.com/otherpages/snowclmb.htm

This link might give you some ideas too. Good luck!
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Re: Starter Snow Climb

Postby lcar6 » Sat Mar 01, 2014 2:39 am

Sunny Buns wrote:
So really, we are trying to fill our experience gap in the 30° to 75° snow angle range!


That's what I was afraid of. The original post mentioned a winter/spring climb and that you might be beginners. Avalanches occur on slopes in that angle range.

At least, prior to your outing, get the local avalanche report. And carry beacons.

FREE March 6 class at REI in Denver: http://www.rei.com/event/54981/session/83629

REI Transceiver classes: http://www.rei.com/class/46701/market/320


If you think we should do something like ridge climbs, feel free to say something like that! I'm not going to be offended! I'd rather hear "Yer gonna die! Do this instead..." We are just trying to ease more into winter climbing to spice up fairly tame snowshoeing weekends. Other than more thorough avalanche training, please give advice! That's why I came to ask in the first place!
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Re: Starter Snow Climb

Postby JonW » Tue Mar 04, 2014 10:01 pm

I found Cristo Couloir on Quandry to be quite mellow. I'm not sure if it's started yet, but 14ers.com typically has a thread dedicated to coulior conditions. This thread would be a great reference on selecting a safe, well-traveled route.
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Re: Starter Snow Climb

Postby Sunny Buns » Wed Mar 05, 2014 2:47 am

Icar6,

Sorry if I was a tad vague. Just don't want to see you and your wife get in trouble. You indicated you might be beginners and wanted a "beginner" winter climb. Looking at the photo of the Audubon route you mentioned - it does not appear as a "beginner" climb unless you have some avalanche training. I've never been on it myself but I know avy terrain when I see it. It appears to have significant avalanche danger just based on the photo in this link: (see the photo "crooked couloir in red")
http://www.mountainproject.com/v/crooked-couloir/105815987

Be safe, have fun, and do it again the following weekend. :) Yes, ridges are best - NEVER get in gulleys.
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Re: Starter Snow Climb

Postby Niederbayer » Sun Jun 08, 2014 9:00 pm

Goat Finger - Mount Edwards

Snoopy's Backside Chute - The Citadel
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Re: Starter Snow Climb

Postby Niederbayer » Sun Jun 08, 2014 9:03 pm

Southern Colouirs - Mont Logan - very mellow - takes a bit of route finding
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