13,971' Mt. Ouray
photo- Mt. Ouray and the Devil's Armchair.  photo by Zach Taylor, 2014

Members of Group: Ben Jordan and Zach Taylor

Ascent Route: Northeast Ridge

Descent Route: The Devil's Armchair aka the east face

     Mt. Ouray is a centennial peak (one of Colorado's 100 highest) located in the Sawatch range.  It is the farthest south of the Sawatch's centennial peaks and sees very infrequent traffic.  It sits just south of highway 50 and Poncha Springs.
     Mt Ouray is named after the Ute Indian chief Ouray.  Another nearby 13er, Mt. Chipeta is named after his wife.  I do not know the story behind the east cirque being named the Devil's Armchair other than that the topography bears a faint resemblance to an armchair...
     The Devil's Armchair is the broken, cliffy, east face of Mt. Ouray.  During the summer when people hike Mt. Ouray they usually hike either the east ridge or the northeast ridge.  Even in the summer I do not believe this peak sees very much traffic. These two ridges comprise the two arm chairs of the Devil's Armchair.  
     I drove up to the Greys Creek trail the night before and camped in the campsite that sits right at the trailhead.  The trailhead is unsigned but there is a small sign that marks Greys Creek, where the creek crosses under the road.  The pull off/campsite on the right hand side of the road, just before the Greys Creek sign is the trailhead.  On the other side of the campsite from the road is a faint climber's trail that winds up into the woods.  This is the trail that accesses the east side of Mt. Ouray.
     I did not know a lot about Mt. Ouray before climbing it.  There were only two other trip reports on the internet for skiing Mt. Ouray; mtn fiends tr on 14ers.com and Frank and Brittany Konsella's trip report on 13erskiers.com.  Mt. Ouray is also in Gerry Roach's centennial guide book which is out of print but the Devil's Armchair is not mentioned as a route in the book.  I know of no other printed or online source of information pertaining to climbing/skiing the Devil's Armchair.
     I had just ridden Mt. Princeton the day before and made my way to the Greys Creek trail that afternoon.  I enjoyed great views of the Devil's Armchair and Mt. Ouray on the way in.
photo- A look at the Devil's Armchair and Mt. Ouray.  photo by Zach Taylor, 2014.
     I ended up driving past the trailhead because it was not signed but after a little investigation I figured out where the trail was.  There was a nice campsite right at the trail so I threw my bivy sack out there and crashed pretty quickly for the night.  Ben had to work in Salida last night so he drove up in the morning.  We started hiking a little after 5am.  
     We laughed and talk a bit about Merican' culture and before long we were humorously shouting, "Merica!  Nascar, WalMart, McDonalds! F*ck Yeah!," back and forth at each other as we bushwacked through the woods.  These very "Merican'" shouts became the day's theme and we would repeat this statement to each other over the course of the day.  MERICA'!!!!!!
     The bushwacking was heinious.  There was just enough snow to hinder travel but not enough to skin on and there were many logs to climb over as well.  Our progress slowed to about 500; per hour for a couple hours.  We were a bit worried that if things did not ease up soon we were going to be too late to ski the Devil's Armchair in good condition.  Fortunately we found a gully to skin up that had consistent snow cover and we were able to skin effectively and pick up our pace.  Finally as we neared treeline we could see our objective.  Merica'!! Nascar, Walmart, McDonalds!  Fuck YEah!!!!!!

photo- Ben Jordan standing below Mt. Ouray.  photo by Zach Taylor, 2014.T
     The snow was heating up quickly though and we would have to hurry.  We had originally planned on climbing the Devil's Armchair but decided to run up the northeast ridge, reasoning that we would be able to do the ridge a little quicker.  We took off up the ridge and tried to move pretty quickly at this point.
photo- Ben Jordan hiking up the northeast ridge of Mt. Ouray.  photo by Zach Taylor, 2014.
photo- Zach Taylor hiking up the northeast ridge of Mt. Ouray.  photo by Zach Taylor, 2014.
     We scrambled across a few rocks about halfway up the ridge and then were able to skin for the last 1/3 or so of the ridge.  We made it to the summit at 10:25.  In a hurry we transitioned and began to ski down the ridge to the top of the Armchair.  We dropped in at 10:30.  This was a half hour later than Frank and Brittany Walker and Chris Davenport skied it after starting at the same time so I did not feel too bad about the speed we moved with over the course of the day.  The snow corned up nicely as we dropped in to the low angle slopes leading to the top of the Armchair.  I was still a little worried we were too late for the face.  Ben dropped in and made a slope cut.  Good corn and not too sloppy!  We were on the late side of perfect but the snow was pretty nice and not water saturated enough to be dangerous.  We skied one at a time down the face picking our way through cliff bands on 40 to 45 degree snow.  The drop of the face is about 2000'. 
photo- Ben Jordan skiing the Devil's Armchair on Mt, Ouray.  photo by Zach Taylor, 2014.
photo- Ben Jordan skiing the Devil's Armchair on Mt. Ouray.  photo by Zach Taylor, 2014.
​photo- Ben Jordan skiing the Devil's Armchair on Mt. Ouray.  photo by Zach Taylor, 2014.
photo- Looking out over Greys Creek from halfway down the Devil's Armchair.  photo by Zach Taylor, 2014.
     I was pretty sure the face went all the way through without down climbing but we were not totally sure until we got halfway down the face and could see that the chute we had eyed from the ridge did go all the way through.  We ripped some more corn turns down into the basin and took a brief break enjoying the view and our tracks above.   
photo- A look up at the upper part of the Devil's Armchair.  photo by Zach Taylor, 2014.
photo- Zach Taylor with the Devil's Armchair pictured behind.  photo by Ben Jordan, 2014.
     It was a beautiful day and we were stoked to have just skied this line in such great conditions.  2000' of corn on low 40 degree terrain weaving around cliff bands.  It was a fun line!  After hanging out in the sun a bit we walked across the flats below the face and skied down our ascent gully.  Once snow became too patchy to ski we transitioned and hiked the rest of the way out.  What a fun line and good day out in the Sawatch!  This line rivals the north face of La Plata and the north couloir on Grizzly for classic Sawatch descents.  Merica'!  Nascar!  WalMart! McDonalds!   Fuck YEah!!!!!
photo- Ben Jordan hiking out the Greys Creek trail after skiing the Devil's Armchair.  photo by Zach Taylor, 2014.