4/21/14

Members of Group: Joel Paula, Ben Koelker, Zach Taylor, and Maximillian Dynafit Paula (the dog Max)

Ascent route: east slopes

Descent route: Boudoir couloir 
13,898' Horseshoe Mountain
photo- A look at Horsehoe Mountain.  photo by Zach Taylor, 2014
     Horseshoe Mountain is a centennial peak in the Mosquito range with an interesting southeast facing cirque.  The Boudoir couloir is the most visible snow line on the face that is not broken up by cliff bands and is on the looker's left side of the cirque.  I have been slowly working on my centennial list since I finished the 14ers a few years ago.  Horseshoe was a centennial with what looked to be a pretty nice snowboard/ski line on it.       I decided last minute that I was going to skip out on studying for nursing school and ski something the next day (4/21).  I gave my friend Joel a call to see if he wanted to get up on a couloir somewhere.  He said he was already planning on skiing Horseshoe the next day with another friend Ben, and that I was welcome to join them.
     Perfect!  This line had been in the back of my mind for a bit and I was excited to get out with Joel and Ben.  School has been busy lately and I had not seen them in quite a while.  This winter's snowpack was beginning to transition to spring and it was time to get out and see how the couloirs were doing this season.
     I drove up to the 4 mile creek trailhead in the afternoon of 4/20 to camp for the night.  I was able to get to just below the Leavick townsite before being stopped by snow. Joel, Ben, and Max joined me later in the evening.  We got up well before dark and began the skin up Fourmile Creek towards Horseshoe.  Horseshoe is very visible from the road here and you can see it right in front of you.  We enjoyed a beautiful sunrise as we skinned toward the cirque.
     Having not been working out as much as normal (an accelerated nursing program tends to do that) we moved slowly up the basin below the Horseshoe cirque.  Fortunately, Joel's recent adventures in fatherhood had slowed down his workout schedule too and I did not feel like I was slowing anyone down, except Max.  He probably climbed 3 times as much vertical as we did while waiting on the stupid, slow humans.  We had originally planned on climbing the couloir but were feeling a bit lazy and the east slopes looked pretty caked in snow so we decided to be lazy and skinned up the east slopes instead of climbing our descent line.  I know, I know, some will say poor form.  I say oh well, that is what we felt like doing and I have spent most of my mountaineering career climbing what I ride.  I did not this day.  The east slopes made for pretty easy going and we made our way up fairly quickly despite our pace.
There were a few ground patches along the way but nothing you could not just skin over......
photo-Joel Paula and Ben Koelker make their way up the east slopes of Horseshoe.  photo by Zach Taylor, 2014.
photo-Joel Paula and Max Dynafit enjoying the Boudoir couloir.  photo by Zach Taylor, 2014
photo-Zach Taylor riding the Boudoir couloir.  Photo by Joel Paula, 2014
photo-Joel Paula and Max Dynafit enjoying the rocks on Horseshoe.  photo by Zach Taylor, 2014.
photo-Sunrise over the Mosquito range.  photo by Zach Taylor, 2014.
photo-Zach Taylor and Ben Koelker on the east slopes of Horseshoe.  photo by Joel Paula, 2014.
photo-Joel Paula, Zach Taylor, and Max Dynafit on the way up Horseshoe.  photo by Ben Koelker, 2014.
     Despite the gentle nature of the Mosquito range, the views are not to shabby and the range does have some nice curves...
photo-Zach Taylor dropping into the Boudoir couloir on Horseshoe Mountain.  photo by Joel Paula, 2013.
photo-Ben Koelker near Horseshoe's summit.  photo by Zach Taylor, 2014
photo-Horseshoe mountain.  photo by Zach Taylor, 2014
     The summit of Horseshoe was mostly melted off but had just enough of a strip of snow that we would be able to get a summit descent.  We hung out in the sun for a while.  Temperatures were barely above freezing and with the breeze our snow surface was staying cold.   
     After a while of hanging out and recognizing that the snow was not going to soften up high, we rode down the ridge to the drop in right below the old mine shack that sits about 100 meters below the summit proper and dropped into the couloir.
photo-Joel Paula and Max Dynafit on the summit of Horseshoe.  photo by Zach Taylor, 2014.
photo-Zach Taylor on the summit of Horseshoe Mountain.  photo by Joel Paula, 2014.
photo-Joel Paula and Max Dynafit skiing out into the basin below the Boudoir couloir.  photo by Zach Taylor, 2014
photo-Ben Koelker ripping turns down the Boudoir couloir.  photo by Zach Taylor, 2014
photo-Zach Taylor and Max Dynafit enjoying the Horseshoe Mountain cirque.  photo by Ben Koelker, 2014
     The couloir was a really fun descent.  It was maybe 40-42 degrees at its steepest near the top and probably 30-35 degrees for most of it.  It was really pretty easy from a technical standpoint but fun and pretty classic.  Skiing through the middle of the couloir with cliffs on either side makes for some pretty dramatic scenery............for the Mosquito range anyway.