Members of Group: Craig Burger, Annie Geminder, Zach Taylor
Ascent/Descent Route: Northeast Chute aka "Snoopy's Backside" via Herman Gulch
The Citadel sits at the head of Herman Gulch and on the north side of Dry Gulch. The Citadel is the popular but not USGS sanctioned name for Pt. 13, 294'. The twin summits of the Citadel bare a faint resemblance to Snoopy laying on his doghouse in the popular comic series. Look at pictures closely and you will see why. The Citadel is easily seen from Loveland Ski Area, Loveland pass, and many other viewpoints from other areas in Colorado.
Craig had to be in Denver to sell his house at 2:00pm and Annie and I were looking for somewhere nearby Denver to ski a nice couloir. The Citadel is a scenic peak in Clear Creek County. Being a member of Alpine Rescue Team, we do on occasion have missions on the peak and I had not climbed it before. I knew it had a nice ski line on it and also wanted to climb the mountain to learn the area a bit more for future rescues.
Interestingly the Citadel has gained popularity in the mountaineering community despite its lack of status as a 14er or even one of Colorado's 100 highest. This is due to the Citadel's great ski and scrambling terrain, distinctive summit viewed from many miles away, and its close proximity to Denver. The Citadel is not crowded by 14er standards but it does see a good deal of traffic for its 13,294' status.
Annie and I met in Golden well before sunrise and began the drive up to the Herman Gulch trailhead where we would meet Craig driving up from Glenwood. We were skinning by sunrise and began making our way up Herman Gulch. The valley winds for a ways without adding much elevation. Eventually the skinning steepened a bit and our first glimpse that day of the Citadel appeared in front of us.
photo- Annie Geminder skinning towards the Citadel from Herman Gulch. photo by Zach Taylor, 2014.
We continued to skin up below the north face towards its northeast couloir. As sun struck the north face we watched a lot of loose snow slough on and off for much of the morning.
photo-Craig Burger skinning towards the Citadel's northeast couloir. photo by Zach Taylor, 2014.
Just as we got to the base of the northeast couloir we watched another loose release come off the north face and tumble across the bottom of the couloir. We spent a few minutes discussing the safety of the couloir and whether we should go up. We ended up deciding it was ok. There was a fresh slab of snow sitting in the couloir from the recent snow cycle but it seemed to have bonded pretty well to the old snow surface. The new slab did not feel hollow, we experienced no cracking, collapsing, whumping,the new slab sheared with hard force, and we had seen no signs of recent slab avalanche activity so we shouldered touring equipment and strapped on axe and crampons as we started up the couloir.
photo- Annie Geminder climbing the northeast couloir on the Citadel. photo by Zach Taylor, 2014
photo-Craig Burger climbing the northeast couloir of the Citadel. photo by Zach Taylor, 2014.
photo-Annie Geminder climbing the northeast couloir of the Citadel. photo by Zach Taylor, 2014.
The couloir averaged about 40 degrees and pushed into the high 40s at the top. There was a lot of powder snow in the couloir which made the going slower than normal but we made our way to the top of the couloir a few hundred feet below and between the Citadel's twin summits after a bit of hard work booting through the powder.
photo- Craig at the top of the northeast couloir on the Citadel. photo by Zach Taylor, 2014.
There was not enough snow to ski directly off the summit so we dropped our skis/board at the top of the couloir and scrambled the last five minutes to the summit. The views from the top were excellent.
photo- Annie Geminder at the top of the northeast couloir of the Citadel. photo by Zach Taylor, 2014.
photo-Annie Geminder on the summit of the Citadel. photo by Zach Taylor, 2014.
The highest point of the summit only really had room for one so we took turns going to the top. After we all got to the summit, we scrambled back down the ridge to the top of the couloir, and prepared to drop in. I went first and the snow was excellent up top. I enjoyed some nice,creamy powder turns down the northeast couloir. I pulled off about halfway down to take pictures and wait for Craig and Annie. They skied down one at a time following me.
photo- Looking up the northeast couloir on the Citadel. photo by Zach Taylor, 2014
photo- A look at the north face of the Citadel. photo by Zach Taylor, 2014.
photo- Annie Geminder skiing out from below the northeast couloir of the Citadel. photo by Zach Taylor, 2014.
photo- Annie Geminder skiing the northeast couloir of the Citadel. photo by Zach Taylor, 2014.
photo- Craig Burger skiing out from the northeast couloir of the Citadel. photo by Zach Taylor, 2014.
photo- Craig Burger skiing down the northeast couloir of the Citadel. photo by Zach Taylor, 2014.
photo- The snowboard/ski tracks of Zach Taylor, Annie Geminder, and Craig Burger in the northeast couloir of the Citadel. photo by Zach Taylor, 2014.
photo- The tracks of Zach Taylor, Annie Geminder, and Craig Burger in the northeast couloir of the Citadel. photo by Zach Taylor, 2014.
The May powder turns in the couloir were quite a treat. Craig was in a hurry to get down in order to sell his house so he took off. Annie and I took a more leisurely trip out and stopped on several occasions to enjoy the views and good snowboard/ski mountaineering conversation.
The bowls below the Citadel corned up nicely and we enjoyed a decent few more great turns before getting down into the valley. From there I transitioned to ski mode and we skated out the valley and back to our car.