I started planning this trip with a friend, but he still had a final on Friday, so I decided to solo the route instead. After gathering all of my gear and board, I headed up I-70 to Hwy 9. At the summit of Hoosier Pass, and on numerous turnouts on the south side of the pass, I stopped to take pictures and assess possible routes. I was choosing between Putnam Gulch on Mt Lincoln, and Moose Creek or Dolly Varden Gulchs, both on Mt Bross. From the pass, I could tell that Putnam was skiable, and that Moose Creek would not be worth the effort compared to Putnam. After driving down to Alma to find a bathroom and a view of the upper reaches I decided that Dolly Varden Gulch would provide a doable safe descent with a little routefinding on the upper reaches of the route. I had to drive back up Hoosier Pass until I had phone reception to leave my plan with a friend. I then drove back down to Alma and up the Kite Lake Road to the Windy Ridge Road.
Windy Ridge is currently driveable almost all of the way to the Mineral Park Mine site. I turned onto the road around 9 PM, as darkness was settling in. A moon helped light the way however. As I progressed up the road, I drove through numerous small snow drifts, nothing bad. After one longer drift, I arrived at an impassable one. After turning my Xterra around and parking, I crawled in the back to stretch out and go to sleep.
I woke up at 6, and started hiking at 6:30. The snow had frozen the night before, so I ascended directly up the snow in Dolly Varden Gulch until the Gulch turns into the bowl. I then moved on to the 4wd drive road and skirted the Dolly Varden Mine. I followed the road as it skirts around towards Moose Creek Gulch. I then ascended directly up a few small snowfields and scree fields to the broad summit of Mt Bross. From the summit, I could see around half of Colorado's 14ers. The wind also picked up a bit, but nothing too bad. I then descended to the top of the snowfield and strapped on my snowboard for the descent. The upper portion in the bowl required a small traverse left and right to avoid dead ends, but route finding was very easy. The upper portion was crusty, but not bad, but the middle portion of the gulch was delightful corn and the lower third was very soft and slushy. After the 15 minute descent, it was a short 5 minute walk back to the car. Overall, it took 2 and half hours to the summit, and about 20 minutes back down, with excellent weather overall.
After getting back to the car around 10:05, I drove up towards Kite Lake as well, to sightsee and check road conditions up that direction. The road is open up to a snow field next to a mine builiding. I'm not sure how much further it is to the lake trailhead. The climb/descent was extremely rewarding, especially as my first solo.
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