Starting Off Spring in the CC Rider

      14 Comments on Starting Off Spring in the CC Rider

Peak C seen from Piney Lake Ranch.

Peak: “Peak C”, 13,220′, Gore Range

Distance: 30 miles round trip on sleds, 10-11 on skin

Vert: Approx 4,300′

TH: Red Sandstone Road (1 mile up road to sled drop, left sleds at Piney River Ranch)

The CC Rider on “Peak C” in the Gores had been in the back of Ben’s and my mind for a couple years now, the obvious setback being the access. Earlier in the week we decided to send our old friend Elliot a quick text to see what his plans were. Oddly enough, he and his buddy “MVP” (Brian) had 2 sleds and were headed for C. Its not everyday where all you have to do is show up to a TH with 2 sleds at your disposal, so the decision was pretty simple. We met up with Elliot and MVP along the winter closure on Red Sandstone Rd around 4am and load up the sleds. We approached in “Canadian Style” which means we each stood on each side of the sled, with one person on the throttle and the other on the brake. This sounds unstable, and, well, it was. I fell off on the very first switchback but with some quick adjustments, we figured things out on the go until Elliot and Ben’s sled overheated. Ben piled on to MVP’s newer, more powerful workhorse sled, while Elliot zoomed on ahead. That sled didn’t overheat untill we arrived at the ranch, so we were set for the time being. On a side note, I commend anyone who owns a snowmobile. They have got to the most depreciating asset on planet earth. And whoever MVP’s neighbor is, we are forever grateful for your generosity. Without those sleds, this outing would probably never be possible, at least in the condition we hit it. After arriving at the ranch, both sleds were overheating, so we dropped them at the cabins and started skinning. Instead of following the summer route along the left side of the valley, you can basically skin right over the lake and up the valley and parallel the creek.

Got ourselves in to some interesting skinning terrain.

Piney River Valley with some familiar faces.

We reached the forest and followed a skin track up the valley towards the southern base of Peak C, using a topo app to guide us. It was surprisingly easy to navigate the basin, especially with the usage of the skin track, which dumped us right on the tarn below C’s southern ramparts.

Ben scoping things out.

We were rolling in to 11,500 around 11am and the breakable crust underneath us needed some time to soften, so we slowed our pace a little. Despite being a South/Southwest facing aspect, given the earliness of the season, the overnight freeze and some breeze – time was on our side. After a long break at the base of the couloir, we donned crampons and went vertical. The couloir is tame for Gore standards – barely 40 degrees at its steepest. We weren’t climbing the entire couloir though, as we were on the lookout for an exit ramp from the couloir that would deposit us directly on the summit.

MVP and Elliot with a spectacular setting.

Heading up with a familiar pano in the background – never gets old.

Ben, like usual, was in the lead, putting in the He-Man booter. We exited too soon on our first attempt to locate the summit ramp face, and climbed up to what I believe was the THIRD exit up the couloir (taking beta shots from below helps when you are close up and in the couloir). The exit ramp was further up the couloir than we thought, and was obvious once we found it. It was a little more than 2/3rd of the way up.

Need to let this grundled out snow soften.

SW Couloir with exit ramp up and to the left.

Me looking up at Ben.

Ben looking down at us.

Soon after locating the exit ramp, things got a little steeper and we were topping out on the summit before we knew it. Views from C are hard to top…..

B&W Ripsaw.

Gore pano.

The Corners.

We didn’t want to dilly dally on the summit as it was around 1pm now and the snow was rapidly softening. We dropped in on prime conditions and were able to get away with it due to the early season conditions all falling in to place perfectly.

Ben on the SW Face.

Skiing down the couloir.

Skiing out the apron below CC Rider.

Ben’s footage of the descent:

The conditions down low were only getting softer and softer, so we decided to follow the tracks out verbatim to ensure we get out with as little brain damage as possible. With the rapidly softening snow, this just got more and more arduous, but we eventually broke treeline. All we had left was 2 miles of skinning across an open snowfield, basking in the sun. I nicknamed this part “The Melanoma Valley” and there was no escape. We doused ourselves in 70 spf and it didn’t hold a candle to these bouncing sun rays.

The Melanoma Valley with C and our route off the summit visible behind.

We reached the sleds soon enough, with a couple La Cumbre’s waiting patiently for us. Piney River Ranch sure is a peaceful place in the off-season.

Not a bad “ballroom” for a wedding….

After finishing off the libations and talking typical post-climb nonsense for long enough, we loaded up the sleds (this time with Ben and I in an unusual method of tow behind the workhorse) and were off for pizza pie’s at Pazzo’s in Vail.

“Canadian Style”.

This day, with the quality of the snow on the SW ramp and apron, the solitude, the fact it was the Gores, the La Cumbres, meal at Pazzo’s with Ben’s dad and any other reason puts this day easily in the top 5 ever. I hope this is a sign of things to come this spring. Even if it isn’t, I’m appreciative of it nonetheless, as I feel anyone should experience a day like this at least once a year/season/lifetime. Thanks for reading.

14 thoughts on “Starting Off Spring in the CC Rider

  1. Dillon

    Pictures of the springtime Gore and another well written report by Miller. Made the morning coffee extra special this AM dude. Something about those Gores is unlike all the others. Glad you got to rendezvous with Elliot. Elliot, if you read this, we should make that beer a post 04-15 celebratory beer. Cheers! Great last paragraph, B. Keep the reports coming. It’s gonna be a big year!

    1. Brian Post author

      Sarnelli – Nothing beats Spring in the Gores. I’ll try to write more this spring and summer. Have fun with tax season!

  2. Dave

    Nicely done you guys! When we were up there the week prior the snow on the exit ramp was nasty. Up to our knees and thighs in unsupportable junk. We turned around and went up top around the back of C. Good to see that it settled out. So much terrain to ski in that one zone.

    1. Brian Post author

      Dave – thanks for the skin track. You took the path of least resistence and saved us a decent amount of time. We were grateful that the face settled cause that was some of the best corn skiing ever. That area is a playground indeed.

  3. Brandon Chalk

    Definitely one of my ETR favorites! Heck yeah, fellas! So stoked for you all that the stars aligned, as Brian said, and you got it good (really damn good)! Beautiful pics, just beautiful. Gores with snow cannot be beat. I just love that upper tarn basin. So pristine and untouched. Love to set up camp there someday. Well done, guys!

    1. Brian Post author

      Mr. Chalk – Spot on – Gores with snow cannot be beat. Very accurate statement. That upper tarn camp might happen sooner than later if we can get another sled and hit some other ops in the area….

  4. Floyd

    Amazing Brian. Straight out of the gates you come up with a gem of a trip/report! That B&W of the ripsaw is something else. Congrats! How’d Bubble look from up there? By the way, the Corners need to be on your to-do list for later this Spring.

    1. Brian Post author

      Thanks Scot – that B/W of the Ripsaw was from Ben. To be honest, I was so excited for the ski, I didn’t really think to look down in to Bubble. Powell and Ripsaw hogged all the attention. Those ME Monsters. And yes – Corners skyrocketed to top of the list – they looked unbelievable.

  5. Ben

    Col. Whenever we would talk about CC Rider in the past I always thought of it as more of a pipe dream than anything. Sweet that it became a reality and you’re right, we have Elliot, MVP, and his neighbor to thank for that. Nice writeup of the day. I’d agree with top 5.

  6. DKYarian (Zambo)

    Melanoma Valley…..haha, thanks for the LOLz as always Brian. Great report and beautiful photos. Glad you guys got a real winner in early this year. I fear the season may be short-lived, so gotta get ’em while they are there!

  7. Michael R.

    Wow, what a great trip! Those pics in that hanging tarn basin with snow are unbelievable. Having been in there in late spring before, seeing it in full white is just amazing. Looks like stuff is starting to come into season, meanwhile the resort is melting out fast – new dirt patches every time I go. Look me up for some spring descents!

  8. Steve

    Love the report! Was thinking how sweet and epic your day was , especially compared to my pedestrian hike in the Mosquitos on the same day.

  9. Sarah B.

    “Melanoma Valley,” that is a good one.
    WOW, those are incredible photos… I mean the Gores are always spectacular but the snow takes it to a whole other level. Gotta experience that for myself sometime. I can’t relate so well to the skiing side of things, but still enjoyed this a whole lot. Looks like a top-fiver indeed! Hope you guys continue to have an amazing spring. Papi and I will catch up with ya when the snow melts.


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