Hahns Peak turned out to be a great adventure and all around an awesome winter trip! Scott Patterson and I had emailed back and forth and finally nailed down January 8th for a winter shot at standing on the somewhat obscure summit of Hahns Peak in northern Colorado. As the time approached we discussed if the trip was a wise move with all of the new snow in the Steamboat Springs area. We agreed that we would give it a shot and turn back if we identified unstable snow conditions.
Scott and I met at 7AM in Steamboat and were on the Trail at the Columbine general store at about 8:30AM. Scott was on snowshoes and I was on my randonee set-up. I knew that my Samoyeds Denali and Yukon would love a day out in the snow, so I brought them along for the adventure. We were barely on the trail for five minutes when it started to snow again!
Scott and I decided that we were making decent time for the conditions and decided to stop to fuel up at about 9,750'. The snow was really deep and light (Steamboat's Famous Champagne Powder) that it was difficult for Scott on snowshoes and for me on the skis to climb some of the steeper slopes. We continued on slowly making our way to tree line through the continuing snowfall by about 11AM. I was real excited to find strong winds much like my Last Trip.
The prayer flags (at tree-line) pictured above were flapping violently in the wind. The visibility with the blowing snow made things a bit more challenging especially with the route finding effort. We ended up finding a good line to get onto the ridge from where we popped out of the trees and continued up this broad shoulder. I am certain that had the weather been better we would have seen the summit by now. After a few minutes we arrived at the top of the ridge where the trail flattened out for a while at about 10,500'.
The dogs were loving the trip and seemed right at home in the snowy conditions. We reached the Old Mine and spent some time deciding what line to take or if we should continue at all since we couldn't see well at all. I popped out of my skis, dropped the pack, and worked my way through some windblown cobbles up the ridge. Scott followed and soon after we found ourselves on a very interesting and narrow ridge. The wind was coming out of the East and it looked like that was pretty typical. The cornice on our left side as we ascended the ridge was very large and menacing looking with the limited visibility. I was post-holeing up to my thighs even following Scott. The safe line across the ridge seemed limited to about three feet wide under the winter conditions.
This narrow ridge quickly led us to the lookout tower at the summit. We ducked inside to escape the wind for a few minutes before heading down. Once we were back through the narrow section of ridge, I fealt much better about having stood on the summit despite all of the weather conditions that had been stacked against us.
As I took my skins off of my skis I was excited about the decent through the deep powder! At some places on the way out I was skiing through powder up to my waist! We took a more direct route down that took us to the North of UN Peak 9,677. We were back to the truck six hours after we left the trail head. There was about six inches of new snow on truck when we arrived. Hahns peak is a great winter climb!