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TR: Gothic Mountain east face, CO

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  • TR: Gothic Mountain east face, CO

    The east face of Gothic Mountain, sentinel of the Rocky Mountain Biological Lab (where I'm a winter caretaker) and the iconic view I drink my coffee to every morning, has a ski line that has been haunting my dreams since I moved here in September. The line is 3200 vertical feet, snaking through the striking laccolithic crenelations that give the mountain its name, and averages close to 40 degrees for most of its length, with a narrow choke in the 45 degree range. For most of the winter, avalanche danger has made it an obvious impossibility, other than a few periods of high pressure that saw a handful of parties ski it. But with the stabilizing snowpack of spring, and an imminent end to my tenure at the townsite, I started to realize both that a) I really, really wanted to ski it before I left and b) there might not be much time left to make it happen.

    After a week or so of obsessing over possible ascent and descent routes, last Tuesday dawned clear and warm, following a wintry weekend that served to cover up the dust layer blown in from Utah on March 30th. I jumped on the window, leaving the cabin around 0730. The ascent was fairly simple, skinning the first 2000 odd feet, booting the next 800 up a couloir to the ridge, scrambling out over loose snow and rocks (the most scared I was all day), then skinning up to the summit (well to the right of the massive cornices over the face). I dropped in a little after 0940, feeling much more confident than I did during the climb. Conditions were decent, in the weird zone between powder and corn. A fair amount of sluff, but nothing too hazardous. The initial bowl is a less-intimidating 38 degrees, allowing you to warm up before the line steepens and narrows. The choke was scoured, but edgeable, and then it was home free, allowing me to open up for the only period of an almost 30 minute descent.

    Definitely the biggest line I've ever tackled, and incredibly rewarding.

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    Before the plunge.
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    Ascent in orange, descent in red.

    More prattle here.

  • #2
    Wow, sweet line. Nicely done.

    ETA: how do you like those Trab skis? Model and weight?
    Last edited by dschane; 14 April 2014, 11:25 PM.

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    • #3
      Super rad line.

      Originally posted by dschane View Post
      ETA: how do you like those Trab skis? Model and weight?
      He says what they are at the bottom of the blog post.

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      • #4
        very cool. I know how looking at a mountain every day can haunt you until you stand atop it.

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        • #5
          Awesome! Nice work. I want to hit that too.

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          • #6
            dschane: Duo sint Aeros in 171. Just under a kilo a ski. I love them -- 73mm is just wide enough to feel really stable for me, but obviously responsive like any skinny plank.

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            • #7
              High five!

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              • #8
                Originally posted by elinck View Post
                dschane: Duo sint Aeros in 171. Just under a kilo a ski. I love them -- 73mm is just wide enough to feel really stable for me, but obviously responsive like any skinny plank.
                Nice, esp. in what sounds like slightly inconsistent, perhaps grabby snow conditions (the early spring, not quite corn, mix of snow).

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                • #9
                  Great trip report -- thanks for sharing. Also, excellent use of appropriate terminology with respect to the origin of said peaK (i.e., laccolith). From recollection, I think Gothic and Crested Butte are part of the same intrusive episode. I know CB displays conspicuous potassium feldspar "megacrysts", so I suspect you saw lots of larger, blocky, pink crystals in the rock on the way up.

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                  • #10
                    Well... that's not too bad. Not too bad at all.

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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by Rock_Doc View Post
                      Great trip report -- thanks for sharing. Also, excellent use of appropriate terminology with respect to the origin of said peaK (i.e., laccolith). From recollection, I think Gothic and Crested Butte are part of the same intrusive episode. I know CB displays conspicuous potassium feldspar "megacrysts", so I suspect you saw lots of larger, blocky, pink crystals in the rock on the way up.

                      Ha -- Certainly different than the andesite I remember from Mt. Hood!

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                      • #12
                        Originally posted by elinck View Post
                        Certainly different than the andesite I remember from Mt. Hood
                        Yes, quite distinct. Speaking of Hood, I recall your post in a thread some time ago in which you describe a truly EPIC bike->climb->ski->bike tour you did from Portland to Hood and back. Way to get after it - for sure!

                        CHEERS!
                        JT

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