Note: Trevor S.; studier of many maps says this peak is called DG22. If anyone knows of another name for it feel free to let me know in the comments.
With all this high pressure floating around, stability in the Golden area has been terrific. Everything near the ski hill has been hammered by legions of people in search of decent snow and steep lines. It’s pretty cool to see, but I have no desire to ski over anybody’s tracks and so lately I’ve been looking a little further afield. Purely by accident I ran into Ryan at the resort a week or two ago, and he pointed out a gorgeous face off the back of the ski hill and up into the next line of peaks. He had been staring at it all season and conditions were looking ideal. I know of no name for the line, but when anyone asks where it is, all I have to to is point straight off the back of the Stairway chair and say That Face, so that is what I’m calling it.
Anyway, we hit the first gondola a few days later knowing that it would be a long day getting over there and back. With the warm temperatures and powerful sun the past few weeks, we found no enjoyable snow whatsoever on our long descent from the ski area down to Canyon Creek, skiing nothing but 800 plus meters of breakable crust. We did, however find nearly half an hour of downhill bushwhacking that left us feeling our legs before we even put on our skins. Thanks to a bad sleep, the wrong breakfast or whatever I could tell that the day was going to hurt right off the bat and just hoped my legs kept moving. The climb from creek to peak was pushing 1000m, and the climb back up to the ski hill wasn’t going to be much smaller. We bushwhacked some more, this time uphill and eventually gained a nice ridge that marked the end of the approach and the beginning of the fun. Slippery, faceted snow gave way to something less like walking on marbles. A few more hours of steeper skinning and engaging bootpacking had us on the summit, joined of course by everybody’s best friend: howling ridgetop winds. Unfortunately, that phrase exists in nearly every trip report I write. Regardless though, it was a cool place to be standing with the upper buildings at the resort visible in the distance. I wonder whether anybody saw us up there. Probably not.
The descent was actually pretty sweet. The upper face was chalky and wind buffed, the middle kind of crusty and lower down the snow almost resembled powder. When we met up at the bottom, Ryan was stoked. This line has been on his radar all season. Ticking it off felt great for me, but I know after staring at it for so long that the feeling was even better for him. As we skied the long slide path back to valley bottom the heinous breakable crust we had encountered skiing down to Canyon Creek made a reappearance and brought back that leg burn just in time for the long slog back to the top of the ski area. A little over three hours of counting steps and we were back to the hill in the pitch dark. Skiing the groomers in the quiet blackness with only our headlamps was a very cool finish to the long day. Tired and happy, I headed home and immediately became one with the couch, looking forward to the future satisfaction to be had in looking out from the top of the hill and knowing we put tracks down That Face.