On Memorial Day I was able to escape the city and check out another Front Range ski route that had long been on my wish list – the Northeast Face of Bald Mountain A (13,684 feet) outside of Breckenridge. Partners for this superb day of spring hiking and skiing wound up being David Yarian and our resident member of the “I Snowshoe with Skiers” club, Dillon Sarnelli. We met at the Trex lot and motored up to French Gulch, following the TH directions Brian laid out in our guidebook (he skied this route in 2011 and included it as the first chapter of the Front Range section). Once at the parking lot we geared up and began the long ascent up the French Creek drainage.
Bald Mountain, or “Baldy” as it as known to locals, is the high point of a long, undulating, north/south ridge line that extends from Mineral Hill to Boreas Pass. To Bald’s east is a smaller parallel ridge line, the high point of which happens to be Mt. Guyot, Bald’s shorter neighbor. Separating these two ridge lines is a long drainage known as French Creek, which provides good access to Bald’s northeast flank and Guyot’s northwest bowl. It is this northeast side of Bald that generally holds the best snow late into the spring, though there are ski options on the peak’s west side as well that are easily accessible from Boreas Pass.
Up the road we went (which was unfortunately dry for at least a mile beyond the locked gate) until we came to a clearing where we decided to cross to the west side of the creek. From there we were able to contour southwest through the trees, popping out in the large amphitheater below the face. From there we elected to climb an east-facing chute, which provided excellent skinning and booting for 1,500 feet.
Higher on the ridge we were treated with excellent views of Mt. Guyot, Whale Peak, and the Santa Fe Group to the northeast. Some clouds blew through the drainage at the opportune moment for us to snap some nifty photos, as depicted above.
On the summit we swore the point roughly a quarter mile to our south was higher than what we were standing on, but a quick check of the map confirmed that we were indeed on Bald’s highest point (the point we were looking at is actually 50 feet shorter, what a mind screw!). We then spent a few minutes trying to decide which route to ski, ultimately deciding on the cooler snow offered by the more northerly-facing option.
We enjoyed a stellar run to the valley below and took a long break in the shade to grab some food and admire our surroundings. We were the only people on the peak on this Memorial Day, which in the Front Range is always a welcomed surprise. Dillon came plodding down shortly after, at which point we hightailed it back to the car to enjoy a few brews. With no traffic issues on the drive home, I think we all felt we nabbed a nearly perfect day in the hills. We of course would not be able to enjoy these freedoms without our men and women of service defending them for us, so to them, we say thank you!
Looking forward to hiking season, as the snow up high seems to be melting fast. Until next time!