The weekend before I had a 14 hour sufferfest on Long’s Peak climbing Dreamweaver, and I dreaded doing the approach again – I don’t know why I hate it so much. When Thomas Woodson and Joey Schusler invited me to ski the Lamb’s Slide I considered the approach for a second, but I couldn’t pass up the opportunity.
Alpine starts are painful. Thomas raps on the window of my car at Oh’Dark Three AM. I’d been waiting for half an hour and fell asleep with my seat belt on. We throw my fatty powder skis in the ski rack on top of his Toyota FJ and take off into the pitch black canyon. It’s a surprise no one else is on the road.
Loading skis and boots onto my full backpack to carry for the 5 mile approach, preparing to gain 3,000 feet of elevation to the base of the climb, I realized I need a different set up. Joey is in full Dynafit set up and carrying roughly 1/3 the weight that I am, with my fatty Bluehouse skis, Marker Barons, and Salomon Quest boots. Just to prove the point Joey does the entire approach in his new Dynafit TLT 6 boots, claiming that they are beyond comfortable the whole way.
Sunrise hits just as we breech the treeline.
Sam Seeward on the approach
First sight of the Diamond
The sky is overcast and there are powerful wind gusts the whole hike in. We thought we might not get the sun the at all during the day, but as we breech tree line the gold light of morning breaks through the clouds. We forget about the struggle for a minute to bask in the light and everyone pulls out there cameras.
I was impressed by Joey’s ability to climb in his Dynafit TLT 6’s.
After debating whether to walk across the frozen Chasm we determine that it’s safe. But it’s still a bit scary hearing the ice shift underneath your weight. It doesn’t help that 50+ mile an hour winds blow us across the lake.
Thomas Woodson keeping himself upright through the high winds that whip around use, periodically engulfing us in almost whiteout conditions from the loose snow.
Above Thomas you can see the Smear of Fear, an ice flow that’s particularly fat this year because of the floods.
The week before, climbing Dreamweaver Couloir with only a little weight on my back the climb at 13,000 feet felt decently easy. The difference carrying a pack full of gear and skis, climbing Lambs Slide took a lot out of me. I reverted back to my technique I learned in Peru: One step, one breath. With this technique I can chug along. I picture myself as the tortoise slowly beating the hare. Except, in reality I don’t beat anyone. I hope I’m not holding the other guys back, who seem to be impossibly fit. They did, earlier this year, ride their bikes from Boulder, climb Longs Peak, and return to Boulder all in one day. Insane.
The climb up Lambs Slide, for most part, was in good condition, but parts of it were slogs through waist deep snow that just collapsed underneath you
The wind passed largely over the couloir, but we still were blasted with huge gusts of wind carrying loose snow.
The view of the diamond from the top of Lambs Slide Couloir
I reached the top of the couloir and was done. I could feel some nausea coming on from the altitude and wanted to take it easy. Sam, Thomas, and Joey wanted to continue to the peak of Meeker (13,900) which “is just over that ridge. It will be 20 minutes”. I decided to stay where I was and wait for them to come back. I huddled amongst the rocks trying to keep myself warm for well over an hour. I climbed down to our skis we’d left below and back up just to warm up.
Finally they appear over the ridge. The peak had been much further than they’d anticipated. I’m psyched to start skiing. My core temperature had dropped quite a bit from sitting still and I want to start moving again.
We figure out our route down and start carving. The snow is a little crusty on top but our skis cut in well, giving us some great turns.
Sam Seward getting in his first turns.
After Joey Schusler figures out a binding issue he hits it hard.
It’s impressive that Thomas Woodson is skiing in advanced terrain having never been on skis before last season!
1500 feet of pure bliss, my first turns of the season were incredible. My legs burned, clearly not in skiing shape. I can’t wait to get out on more incredible terrain with these guys the rest of the season.
Thomas crossing Chasm lake. Skiing across the lake was so much easier than walking.
We hike the five miles back to the parking lot, everyone beyond tired. I can’t wait to get a lighter weight set up from Dynafit that won’t destroy my back on every hike. I was sore for days. I’m not psyched to do the approach to Longs anytime soon, but I’m excited to see what the Colorado backcountry has in store this year. Already, it’s shaping up to be a better season than last.