My new climbing and skiing partner, Bill, had a few hours to spare Thursday morning before a family camping trip, so we decided to get an early start and ski Peak 9. We left the ski route in the air, and agreed to see what looked best from the top.
We met at Breck Ski Resort at about 5:30 Thursday morning, and drove up CR 751 through the now closed ski area in one vehicle. It's always strange to drive through a ski resort. The slopes all look so mellow when you are driving through them.
We quickly arrived at the Peak 9 restaurant and parked just beyond it. Although the weather forecast seemed a little shaky, it was turning out to be a beautiful morning. We got our gear together, and packed our skis for a short hike to the snow. We checked out the view of Peaks 9 and 10 ahead.
While we were preparing to leave the car, a tourist from out of state staying at Breck came upon us stunned. He couldn't believe that we were planning to ski in June. We pointed him up to all the snow above us, and he just shook his head. "Yeah, but you have to carry your skis all the way!" We explained what AT skis were, but it wasn't getting through. "You're going to walk uphill with skis?" Eager to start our climb, we left the tourist to his morning hike and started away. He snapped a photo of us, saying, "I've got to take a photo of you guys, because no one back home will believe I saw two nuts walking uphill with skis in June." Funny. It made me grateful to live in Colorado.
We quickly hiked up the rest of the road until we were confident we could skin the rest of the route on good snow. We decided to bushwhack off the road to a large, corniced ridge that looked like it would lead us to the Peak 9-10 basin on good snow. Our suspicions were correct, and we skinned efficiently into the basin.
Once inside the basin, we headed straight for Peak 9's East Ridge. The East Ridge proved an easy skin on the frozen morning snow, and we were on top of 9 by 8:00 am. To our dismay, a large cloud was blocking the sun, and delaying the corn window. We lounged on the summit, and waited for the clouds to pass, debating which route to take down. The slopes to the southeast were very mellow and weren't really appealing to either of us, but it would have led us back to where we began, making a ski back to our car easy. The northeast route looked great, but would ensure us a climb back to where we parked. The slopes off the Peak 8-9 saddle looked really fun, but were totally melted out 1000' down.
The views were great as we waited, and I snapped several photos. We decided on the northeast slopes route, and accepted the short climb back to our cars. It was 9:30 am, and we decided to go for it. The snow looked just about right.
Bill skied down to the lower summit of Peak 9 first, and I noticed that it woud make a great photo. I snapped it and followed him down.
He conceded first tracks to me, and I proceeded down the northeast slopes. It was an easy ski, and very enjoyable. The corn was perfect, and the slope was longer than it seemed. Bill followed, and we skied together across the flats through some willows until we hit dry ground. We packed our skis back to the road, and were quickly back at the car.
It was a nice, short ski tour on a great day. As we approached the car, we noticed black clouds rolling in. Perfect timing, and another great Tenmile Ski.
Waiting for the corn on Peak 9's summit