Monday, April 16, 2012

RMNP Ski Tour March Day 4

The next morning I woke and felt much better. We cooked the dinner planned for the night before for breakfast and decided to do a little skills practice while waiting for the snow on the way out to warm up a little. We went over to some rock fin poking out of the glacier and Kate placed a few anchors and we practiced rappelling. This went well, looking at creative placements for nuts and pitons.
Then we went back and packed up. I should have paid more attention to Kate's pack, but let her take care of loading it. Later on in the day this was a problem again, similar to the way in. Packing went quickly and soon there was no evidence that we had stayed there.
The hike to the top of the couloir we had booted up went quickly and soon we were descending it. It was still firm and with the heavy packs a little unbalanced, but still very fun and aesthetic.

At the bottom we cut off some of the trail we'd come up on the way in and were rewarded with awesome low angle corn interspersed with baby conifer trees, super fun!

Now it is on to the switchbacks and deadfall, we only had to take our skis off for one deadfall, managing to surmount the countless others with gymnastics, but it certainly slowed us down and was tiring. The lower we got the more rotten the snow was as well, so it was imperative that we stay on the trail. What was firm crust on the way in 3 days prior was now mush.

We made it down to our first campsite, ate a snack and filled water, and put skins on for the remainder of the trip. It was now slow going, with rotten snow, down trees, massive snowshoe postholes and undulating terrain. It was also not good for Kate's skins as the glue stopped working effectively.

We had 6 miles left or so, 3 with skis, 3 hiking, and one of Kate's skins failed completely with more than a mile left of skiing.
This was all very tiring and much more time consuming than we had estimated. We felt worn out and demoralized.

We finally made it to the falls, which marked the sneaker transition, and put the skis and boots on the packs. It was nice to be one step closer, but I felt like hiking was more tiring and the extra weight on my back felt huge. After a long and emotional 3 miles we were very close to the trailhead when I spotted two moose. And then a butterfly frozen in the stream.

Finally we made it out, stopped in town to pick up some takeaway bbq and made the 2 hour drive home.

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