With weekend weather windows continuing to close down and push any thought of skiing bigger lines further and further into May, we decided to check out the north faces of Englemann Peak and Mt. Parnassus from Woods Creek on back to back weekends. When the weather sucks, go ski some low-hanging fruit and hope for the best. That was our mantra, and we wound up getting two decent days of skiing out of it while managing to avoid getting struck by lightning.
Back to our day on Parnassus. We started off from the large, permanent “Danger Avalanche” sign at the bottom of Ruby Creek and skinned up the road and through the woods until the north face of Parnassus eventually came into view. There’s really not much to say about the approach. Just skin until you break tree line and head for the big a** peak.
Being just a stone’s throw from I-70, access to Parnassus’s south side couldn’t be easier, which is how most people hike the peak in summer. The north face offers up the goods for skiers and is best accessed from the Woods Creek area near Jones Pass. Parnassus is named after a mountain in Greece which bears the same name. The Greek Parnassus was the sacred peak of Dionysus, the the god of grapes, wine, and parties (info from Front Range Skimo).
On the summit we had clearer views and less wind than the weekend prior on Englemann. Progress. After briefly speaking with some guys who had come up from Watrous Gulch, we clicked in and headed over to the north face drop in. In case anyone’s interested we skied route 2 which Rob details over on Front Range Skimo. He calls the route the “North Face Drainpipe” in reference to the large bowl funneling into the narrow gully at the bottom of the face.
At some point out on the face the snow turned to wet corn, which was actually quite enjoyable to ski when it didn’t grab the bottom of your skis like velcro.
The snow transitioned into mush down on the apron. It had most likely rained down lower the previous night and never froze. A straight line across the basin had us back into the trees and then eventually the road, which we were able to ski down in a matter of a few minutes to within a hundred yards of the parking lot.
After decided we were done standing around in the rain, we packed it up and headed into town for some Smokin’ Yards and then a Modus at Casa de Barella. All in all conditions could have been better, but the drainpipe is a cool route and as per usual, it was fun to see everyone.
Hoping for some clear weekend weather as we head into June. I won’t hold my breath.