Big Bad Wolf – Another Great Line on Red Peak

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Big Bad Wolf – Red Peak Northeast Face.

Peak/Route: Red Peak 13,189 (Gore Range)/”Big Bad Wolf” (NE Couloir)

Mileage/Vert: 12-13 miles, 4,500 feet

Group: Me, Hugh and Jon

Food: Sweet n spicy trail mix, hot and bothered Perky Jerky, Honey Stinger gels, Gatorade energy chews, fruit punch, double stuffed Oreos

Resources: iPhone Topo Maps, Vail/Frisco/Dillon Trails Illustrated #108


The plan was to hit “Big Bad Wolf” Couloir from Willowbrook based on a brief report mentioned in Stan Wagon’s site from a couple years ago. I hadn’t seen much posted about this line anywhere and was intrigued. I knew the snow conditions would be solid, with moderate/low avy danger due to the recent storms, so another Gore slog was in store. After the Silver 2 weeks ago and CC Rider on C, figured I’d keep the momentum going. What I learned was, in a range full of potential ski lines, Red Peak is near the top of that list with regards to diversity, aesthetics and fantastic consistent skiing. Hugh, Jon and I met around 4:30am in Morrison, made it to Willowbrook TH around 6am and were skinning soon after. The first couple miles flew by and we reached the Gore Range Trail junction, where we continued to follow the summer trail, till it made sense to follow Willow Creek in a more direct line to the base of Big Eyes. We were granted a few solid panos of the Willow/Salmon cirques early on in some open marshlands…..

From L-R = Little Red Riding Hood (EE Red), Zodiac Traverse, East Thorne and “Rain”.

After 2.5 hours, we popped out of the trees almost directly at the base of Big Eyes Couloir on EE Red and took a prolonged break. We got our first small glimpse of “Big Bad Wolf” finally and saw 50% of it was still in the shade, so we had time. The winds were picking up around this time, and we held on to the hope it would relent as the day went on. Fortunately, for once, mother nature threw us a bone, and it did.

Red and the Big Bad Wolf ready to blow our asses down.

We basically skinned along the northern slopes below the Red Massif, contouring around to the Upper Willow Lakes valley. This was straightforward for the most part. Above the last lake, we encountered a semi-annoying mix of wind and awkward skinning conditions. We pushed through it and made it eventually to the base of the line at around the 4 hour mark.

Closer view of Zodiacs and East Thorne. Pretty awesome drainage.

Jon took first dibs on the bootpack up the couloir and it was slow(ish) going due to some deep powder. The crux was around the middle of the line, with a 52 degree convex roll over, that was the main concern for the descent. We kept the climbing to the left most side of the couloir and just soldiered on up. As we reached the 12,900 range, we were presented with 3 couloirs – we chose the middle, direct line on the ascent and chose the looker’s left (skier’s right) on the descent in an effort to exercise efficiency and logic. Some shots of the ascent:

Jon leading the way early on.

Hugh following with the Blue River Valley in far background.

Hugh topping out on summit ridge with East Thorne as a backdrop.

Pano looking South from top of Big Bad Wolf.

Pano from summit of Red looking North at Gores.

Deming Drop

The summit was a tad on the windy side, so we retraced our steps back to top of BBW, dug out some platforms and feasted for a solid 45 minutes before dropping in. The SE line looked sticky and a tad boney, so we were happy to be dropping in to some northerly aspects and hopefully some softer snow – which it very much was! Some highlights of the ski:

The Howitzers peering down the line.

Looking up the 1st set of turns.

Looking down on the 2nd pitch of the descent. This is where the snow started to get pretty soft and much deeper.

We hung out in this little nook before dropping in for the 3rd set of turns. From this point on, it was steep and deep.

Hugh dropping in to the void.

Jon looking east.

Not every day do you get 45 degree untouched pow turns deep in the heart of the backcountry.

Still powder out on the apron.

Which transitioned to perfect corn once we hit the sun.

Big Bad Wolf with our turns.

The skin out was rougher than I remember. We stayed on the left side of the creek and got small segments of momentum, mixed in with annoying poling and some upclimbing. Hugh, who had been recovering from a cold earlier in the week, started to get a little delusional. He kept asking how much longer to the car, reminding me of this scene from Snatch…..

We made it to the car with light to spare, devoured some Chips and Sadie’s salsa and motored on down home to feast some more. Another solid Gore ski descent in the books. Thanks for reading.

16 thoughts on “Big Bad Wolf – Another Great Line on Red Peak

  1. Ben

    Now that looks like some great skiing. Or in Summit County vernacular, “that’s sum killer stoke bruh!”. So by my recollection you’ve now skied Red B three times via three different routes, and found blower powder every time. Nice calls Colonel.
     
    P.S. If Hugh is gonna make long tours like this one a regular thing, it’s time he invests in some Dynafits.

    Reply
    1. Brian Post author

      I’ve tried to talk some sense in to him, but he spends all his money on car parts and racing tires. Maybe a couple more times of vomiting on himself, he’ll figure it out (in his defense – he’s a poor grad school student).
       
      And that is correct – I’ve skied Red in nothing other than blower powder. To use more Broville vernacular, it was “all time!”.

      Reply
  2. DKYarian (Zambo)

    Are you really Gore Galore, Brian? 🙂
     
    Nice report as always. It’s fun to see you in your element this time of year. Great effort man.

    Reply
  3. stan wagon

    Nice. One of my favorite lines (done it….4 times). I would think the approach from the S side is better, but I can see the advantages in how you did it. No car shuttle, you get to see the line on way up, and of course more time spent in the lovely basin.

    Reply
    1. Brian Post author

      Hey Stan – after reading your page on BBW, we went back and forth on how to get in and out of there. Seemed like all your trips were in June, so we had to wing it sort of. But yes, we ultimately chose the way we did for the reasons you described. It is surely a lovely basin. Thanks for your site and the beta. Leaves room for the imagination.

      Reply
  4. Floyd

    Dooooode, Nutty Epic Bruh! You’ve raised the bar this Spring so far with these two trips. Hopefully we get a few more storms to extend the season. Let me know when you want to wait a few hours for a lagging snowshoer to destroy your skin tracks. You still owe me a trip up Big Eyes, so maybe one more trip back there this Spring?

    Reply
    1. Brian Post author

      Scot – your daughter’s new lingo rubbing off on ya? Now that I’m more familiar and comfortable with the approach to BE, I could definately be talked in to a trip in there, possibly even this spring. Lets talk about it.

      Reply
  5. Brandon Chalk

    Really nice there, Mr. Miller. I’m drooling. The top portion of the coolie looked a bit rough (at least rough for me), but man those corn turns once you hit the sunlight looked delicious. Well done, buddy. I have loved your spring TRs thus far. Deming Drop looks very in. That’s one Kristine & I want to go it in a few weeks.

    Reply
    1. Brian Post author

      Brandon – the top looks rougher than it really was, it was actually fun and enjoyable, albeit a tad thin in spots. Lines that dogleg with various features are always interesting and fun. And yes – highly recommend Deming. Eccles Pass/Meadowcreek basin is beautiful in its own right – more subdtle than Willow Creek. And that climb out of the Drop is trivial, plus it gets you some more skiing on the way out.

      Reply
  6. stan wagon

    In case anyone wonders about the name, my first time down was solo and it was too mushy to be comfortable on. I fell once in the must near the bottom and lost a pole. So I realized that Little Red Riding Hood would be more appropriate for a somewhat easier line far to the east, and BBW for this one. On my second trip down the whole thing had slid and the last third was through debris. Finally, on the third time, a decent descent in good conditions. I do not know if anyone has ever skied the more serious and steep entry that goes right from the summit of Red. But maybe it is too rocky right of the top for a good entrance.
     
    That first time I had to hitchhike home a couple miles from Willowbrook and a local cop at the parking area gave me a ride home!

    Reply

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