#3 Mt. Harvard – 14,420’
Peak #3: January 16, 2016
Ski Route: “South K Couloir”
Ski Partners: Torrey Udall, Chris Tomer, & Anna Migl
- Start Time: 6:30 AM
- Reached Summit: 2:00 PM
- End Time: 6:00 PM
Migl and I summited at 2pm or so in a great weather window and we filmed a Tomer’s Trails episode, check out the adventure here: Skiing Mt. Harvard for Tomer’s Trails, KWGN 2 Denver.
I was grateful to have my strong friends come on a cold and snowy winter’s day for our attempt on Harvard. Fortunately we were able to drive to within 1.5 miles of the summer trailhead on our approach to the Horn Fork Basin Trailhead.
It had snowed several inches over the previous couple of days, and as the wind continue to blow, I knew that the key was to just get to timberline and see if the forecast for a brief weather window would materialize.
Around 11am, we skinned to about 12,000’ and as the wind continued to howl, the sun came out fairly well, and I was certain that things would clear. Tomer bid us farewell and good luck, as he had to get back home to Denver for some reason, and so myself, Anna, and Torrey continued on and up the mountain.
Around noon as I crested the south ridgeline along the continental divide, I had a great view to the west and the winds died down. This was our chance to get up to the summit.
Approaching 14,000’ I knew we had to be efficient. But the snow and the conditions were so soft, making the final 400 feet really tough.
Post-holing for about an hour and pushing to the summit block, I knew we were gonna make it and the approaching storm from the west still was a few hours away.
It was awesome to stand on that summit in the winter. It also brought back memories of my summit bivy from 2011 when I almost got struck by lightning up on that summit! http://www.jonkeverest.org/blog/2011/09/22/54-Harvard-14420-Lightning-Zapped-Sept-21-22.aspx
After a few minutes to relax, it was time to descend and ski. Earlier on the approach I had spied the “South K Couloir”, a nice narrow and steep chute to skier’s left of the summit, so I skied a couple hundred yards on the rocky ridge until I was at the top of the couloir.
I couldn’t wait to drop in! It was a different line than I had skied in 2013, and it appeared to be filled in just enough.
Winds increased and I took several jump turns down the couloir. It was solid. The couloir skied well and before I knew it I was back down on the basin meeting up with Torrey and Anna who both selected a face near the south ridge to ski and then meet me.
We felt great about our ski descents and by now it was pushing 3pm, so we started moving back towards timberline. Before long we were back on our skin track on the trail through the woods and by almost 6pm in the waning light and stormy windy conditions we had made it safely back to our car at the trailhead. Almost a 12 hour day, and we covered about 17 miles round trip, what a rewarding day with awesome friends!