Windom Peak
Descent Route: Windom Widowmaker
The Needles Group
Windom Peak
Windom Widowmaker
May 8, 2006

My climb and ski of Sunlight Peak was easy and fun. I was feeling great and ready to hike straight up fourteener number two for the day. I put on my crampons and began walking towards the base of the North Face of Windom Peak. As you can see from some of the photos, Sunlight and Windom are close neighbors. I was able to put in a solid boot track up the Widowmaker Route in forty-five minutes, topping out around noon. The climb felt great in my legs, and even at fourteen thousand feet, my breathing is no longer labored or strained. Acclimatization really is a fascinating physiological effect on the body. Anyway, on top by myself, I took in the broad and astounding views of the San Juan Range. There are so many incredible peaks packed into a small area in the San Juans. I saw three or four new lines that I immediately added to my life?s ?to do? list of ski descents, including a high thirteener to the east that has one of the coolest looking North Faces I have seen in Colorado.

Ben and Jon were on the radios letting me know they were ready to film. They had shot my descent of Sunlight Peak from on slope, and then stayed on Sunlight to shoot across at Windom, an excellent angle for filming big mountain skiing. My line down the Widowmaker was direct and clean, with only a small, wind blown snow ridge at the narrow choke in the route to negotiate. Scott Smith was on the West Ridge of Windom shooting stills of my line. I gave the boys a ten count, and then dropped in on great snow, which flew off my edges with each turn. This face of Windom is barely one thousand feet long, so I was at the bottom in less than a minute, psyched, but with a bit of a leg pump going. The rest of the crew was lounging on the rocks. Chris K. began to climb the same route, while Will and Mark headed down to the lakes that sit in upper Chicago Basin to begin putting in a skin track up North Eolus. I took a break, ate some fresh bread from Bread (epic bakery in Durango), and watched Chris get ready to drop in. Jon and Ben were filming him as well, and he totally ripped the line, even taking a big, fast air off that wind lip in the choke. He probably skied that line in half the time that I did, and the smile on Chris? face at the bottom was as big as the line he had just skied. With his run done I skied down into the valley and began skinning back up towards the two summits of Eolus. Will and Mark had done lots of the work putting the skin track in up and across a big face. They were headed for a large couloir that ran east from the shoulder of North Eolus. Ben was set up to film them on this big line.

We were joined on this climb by another skier who had ridden the train in with his friend to climb and ski the peaks. I was not surprised at all to find other skiers heading into these mountains, especially seeing as this was the first weekend of operation for the train to Silverton. Scott Putnam had climbed and skied Sunlight and Windom already this morning as well, and he was keen to give all four peaks a try too. So as we neared the summit of North Eolus, it was just Scott and I.

For the continued report of this big day, click on the Mt. Eolus page.

Chris






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