Descent Route: East Face
December 22, 2006
Ski Descent #48
As anyone in Colorado can tell you, we just got hammered by a pretty sizeable winter storm, which left much of the state under two feet or more of snow. Yet, once again, the Sawatch range, especially the southern peaks, were left in the donut hole, and were hammered by high winds, leaving hardly a trace of deposition from this large storm.
Since the avalanche danger was quite high in much of the state, but not in the southern Sawatch, I chose to go give Mt. Princeton another go. This would be my fourth attempt on this Peak, and I hoped my last.
Nick DeVore, Joel Stonington, and I left Aspen Friday morning and arrived at the trailhead relatively late. I don?t think we began the snowmobile ride up the Princeton road until 9:30 a.m. By 10:00 a.m. we had parked the sled just past the radio towers at 10,800? and began skinning and hiking up the summer trail towards the summit. The skies were gray and there was little or no wind, but the temps were very cold. The rocky talus trail was covered with a foot of loose powder, which made or ascent in ski boots a real challenge. It wasn?t until we hit the summit ridge at 13,300? that things got a little easier. We made the summit at 2 p.m., and I was thrilled to see that there was just enough snow off the top to link together the summit ridge to the east face below. Actually, this face turns south quite a bit, and I always find it strange that more snow doesn?t collect in this lee-side basin. In any case, we began our ski descent on firm wind slab, which soon turned to the most evil breakable crust any of us have ever encountered. This snow was so bad that even decent skiers like us looked intermediate. Joel and Nick both telemark, and it was through sheer strength that they could even make any turns at all. My skiing was just as pathetic, back seat and barely controlled. We laughed our way down the slope, tagging buried rocks all the way down. Princeton wasn?t giving in to my project without a fight.
We arrived in the Dry Creek (fitting name) Basin and put our skins back on for the climb back up to the ridge, where we could descend and intersect the upper Mt. Princeton road. We arrived back at the truck at 5:30 p.m. Even though this ski descent was probably the most heinous of all forty-eight I have finished, I was very happy to check Princeton off my list. I?m not, however, going to do this mountain the favor of writing a long, eloquent trip report, as it doesn?t deserve one. Hopefully the photos will help tell the story. Joel headed back to Aspen, and Nick and I turned south and headed for the Wet Mountain Valley and the Sangre de Cristo Range for an attempt on Humboldt Peak.
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