Post subject: Lindley Hut (Central Colorado) - 4/30/10
Posted: Tue May 11, 2010 10:11 am
Joined: Tue Feb 20, 2007 10:19 am Posts: 542 Location: Capitol Hill, Denver, Colorado, U.S.A.
As winter rolls into spring in Colorado, it is time for my annual hut trip in the Elk Mountains. While most people do the huts in the winter time, but I always prefer the longer days, shorter approachs, and safer snowpack of early May. Luckily, I was able to find a couple of other backcountry enthusiasts that have not retired their boards for the mountain bikes just yet.
This year I chose the Lindley hut, which provided a very short hike to get to. Even better, the winter gate at Ashcroft was open, which allowed us to drive an additional two miles to the summer trailhead All the way up from Denver to Aspen, we encountered every sort of weather condition imaginable. It was supposed to storm all weekend, so I was prepared for whiteout conditions at the trailhead. However, we were greeted with partly-sunny skies and light snow for our entire approach to the hut.
Ed da'Gnarly getting stoked at the trailhead.
We skinned up Taylor Pass road through about four inches of fresh powder. This was my first time taking the left branch of Castle Creek road, instead of the usual right branch towards Tagert, Green Wilson, and Friends Hut. As we crept around Greg Mace peak, the rest of the Cooper Creek drainage came into view. We reached the hut in a little over an hour. I was already beginning to like this hut .
Skinning up the road
The hut was very large, and quite comfortable for our small group. From the south deck, we were treated with an incredible view of the Cooper Creek Basin
On the left is the north shoulder of Star Peak. On the right is an unnamed peak that separates Cooper Creek Basin from Pearl Basin (towards Pearl Pass)
On Saturday morning, we decided to head up the basing towards the face on the right. The aesthetic couloir direct center was calling our names.
Close up of the face
We started up the Cooper Creek drainage, but greatly underestimated the steepness and rugged bushwacking required to reach the base of the mountain. Getting up there would have required many ups and down into creeks and ditches, and skirting cliffs. Its no wonder this area doesn't get skiied much. It was much gnarlier than the standard approach to Pearl Basin from the other side. Regardless, we found some good features to ride back down towards the hut.
Ed riding a steep tree line
Mike hucking a small cliff
Rachel making turns below the cliffs
After regrouping at the hut, we decided to head back towards the mining road that we came in on, and climb the north facing slopes above the hut. The terrain here was variable. There was deep powder in many areas, but really nasty and rotten 'snirt' in others. After an exhausting and frustrating climb, we finally made it near treeline, and switched over to drop in.
Afterwards, we retired to the hut, opening the whiskey and running through the various board and card games there. (Let it be noted that I kicked Mike's ass in chess, twice )
A few photos of the Lindley Hut
The next morning, we awoke to a much more overcast day. It was snowing much harder than the day before. We cooked a hearty breakfast and prepared to leave.
Mike and Rachel out front
Ed, locking it up. Goodbye, Lindley Hut!
Just because we were on our way out didn't mean we were done making turns. We had spied a small chute during our approach that we decided to return to. Mike left to hike up around it to get above the cliffs, while Ed and I ascended the chute proper.
Ed, dropping into the chute. Best powder of the trip right here (not bad for May!)
'Huckmaster Mike' in action
This hut trip was pretty casual. There were no huge lines descended. However, it was very relaxing for me to get away from the city life, avoid Facebook for three days , and just chill out with some good friends .
Until next year!
_________________ Riding a '06 Voile Split Decision Freeride 173, '07 Salomon Malamutes, Spark Ignition I bindings.