With spring in full bloom and a decent weather forecast, we decided to head out and search for corn on a pair of local classics this past Saturday. 13,220 foot Hagar Mountain sits at the head of Dry Gulch, which can be accessed from the north side of I-70 just east of the Eisenhower tunnel. Mike, Brian, Dillon, and I started up the drainage at 5am, but not before stashing a vehicle at the Herman Gulch trailhead down the road.
Our plan was simple but somewhat elegant; ascend Hagar’s South Ridge via Dry Gulch and ski its Southeast Face, ascend “The Citadel” via a couloir known locally as “Snoopy’s Collar”, then ski Snoopy’s Backside Chute down into Herman Gulch and out. After making our way up between 12ers Mt. Trelease and Mt. Bethel which guard the entrance to Dry Gulch, we continued west through the trees before eventually breaking out into the alpine just as the sun was coming over the horizon.
Although I’ve never hiked Hagar in the summer, I’m convinced it’s a skier’s peak. With a relatively short approach, a fun summit climb, and a large face dropping straight off the top at a nearly perfect angle for making wide GS turns, Hagar makes for a great day out on skis. I could definitely see making it a May staple, heading back there every year to hit it again and again.
We waited for upwards of an hour on the summit for the snow to soften to a nearly perfect corn surface, then we dropped in.
A short segment of GoPro footage I filmed on the descent:
After making a set of nice, wide open turns for roughly 1,200 feet to the basin below, we strapped skis to our back and started up “The Citadel”. Dillon, our resident snowshoer, elected to take the ridge direct between Hagar and Citadel, which he reported to be a fun route in snow conditions.
In the chute we ran into our old friend Prakash Manley and two of his friends. Funny how even on a relatively popular 13er close to Denver, it’s not hard to run into someone you know.
“The Citadel” (13,294 feet) is a uniquely shaped peak that sits on the dividing ridge between Dry and Herman Gulches. Overshadowed in elevation by it’s neighbor to the north, Pettingell Peak, “The Citadel” steals the show as far as aesthetics go. Splitting its jagged double summits is a moderately wide, steep chute that has become known to most as Snoopy’s Backside Chute (in reference to Citadel’s appearance from Dry Gulch resembling the namesake dog reclining on his dog house). The couloir is short but sweet, and a great place to make some turns in the Front Range.
After messing around for awhile trying to figure out which summit is actually higher (from the south summit the north looks higher, from the north they both look the same), we said goodbye to Prakash and Co and dropped into Snoopy’s Backside.
After some fun turns we descended down Herman Gulch, which held snow to within a hundred yards of our car shuttle. After that it was down to flip flops and a few brews.
These two peaks were just a ton of fun and not hard to get to. It just goes to show that sometimes you need look no further than just up the highway to find a new adventure. Here’s to a great May!