With ski conditions starting to deteriorate up high and a good amount of summer driving on the agenda, I knew I wanted to keep things local this past Saturday. My buddy Jason Fruh and I talked about going for Pettingell Peak (13,553 feet) which resides at the head of Herman Gulch only an hour’s drive from Denver. We knew it was in (thanks to beta provided by Brandon Chalk and Co who had skied it a week and a half prior) and we liked the idea of a low-angle route as the area hadn’t received a good freeze for several days. Jason and Becky Blyth, their friend Chris Bombardier, and David Yarian jumped on board, rounding out our group of six (+1 canine, Taj). After gearing up in the rain we started up the trail and hung a left at the signed turnoff for Herman Gulch.
Pettingell is one of five ranked 13ers that extend in a line from the Eisenhower Tunnel north along the crest of the Continental Divide. Being the tallest of the five, Pettingell looks down over “The Citadel”, Hagar Mountain, and “Golden Bear Peak” to the south, and “Hassell Peak” to the north. Together this group of peaks provides a plethora of excellent spring ski options, all of which have straightforward access from I70 and the Loveland Ski Area. Thanks to the good snow coverage we’ve had up north this spring, I’ve had the opportunity to explore four out of five of these on skis (excluding Hassell).
Pettingell seems to have all the ingredients of a fun ski tour – an easy approach with good previews of the route along the way, a manageable skin to the summit, and a moderate ski line that is highly likely to corn up in the late-morning.
After a good amount of time spent on the summit the skiers/boarders headed east while the shoers elected to take the standard route down the West Ridge. The route we intended to ski corned up nicely and made for a few thousand feet of good skiing to the valley below.
The out went smoothly as, contrary to the forecast, the snow received an excellent freeze the night before and was still very supportive by the time we skied out around 10:30am. From there we each went our own way, which happened to be the Mountain Toad Brewery for Jason and I. Both IPAs are decent, I’d definitely go back.
Thanks crew for joining and I apologize for the shorter-than-usual write up this time around. Have a great rest of your spring if I don’t see you again before summer. Cheers!