Ervin Peak Ski Descent

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Booting up the massive south face of Ervin Peak (13,531 ft) on April 11th. Click to enlarge.

With a solid weather forecast and good information from our friend Elliott that Ervin was skiing well, Rick, Brian and I decided to head up there Tuesday and check it off the wishlist. Once in a blue moon the three of us manage to finagle the same day off work. Well the moon wasn’t blue this time around but it was certainly full…

Moon over Winfield Peak.

Ervin Peak resides in the central-Sawatch just southwest of Mt. Hope and is an instant classic from a skier’s perspective. Its south couloir is long, moderately angled, and easy to access. Given the proper timing it’s not hard to ski 3,200 ft continuously straight back down to Road 390 where your vehicle is parked, or pretty close to it. As we climbed and skied Ervin we couldn’t help but notice the similarities between it, the Grand Couloir on Mt. Aetna, and the south couloir on Lackawanna. Indeed the three lines seem like siblings of one another.

We were able to get Rick’s new truck to within two and a half miles of Winfield before being stopped by snow drifts. Patchy snow from there required a few ski carries, but nothing too painful really. An hour and twenty minutes in we came to the foot of the route, which was still continuous down to the road but probably won’t be for too much longer. Here we took a long break in the April sun before starting up the booter. With the cold AM temps there was no reason to rush things.

Nearing the top of the 3,200 ft line. An existing booter courtesy of Elliot sure expedited things.

One foot in front of the other for 3,000 ft had us to the top of the line where we were greeted with a stiff breeze. Although it’s been hot this week at lower elevations, higher up things are still in an obvious transition phase and even still wintry on northern aspects. Unfortunately for us that meant we’d be skiing punchy crust for the first few hundred feet. But I suppose with any line of this length in Colorado, getting good snow from top to bottom can’t be an expectation. Some shots of the ski…

Off the top with nice views of the Virginia group to the southwest. Click to enlarge.

The snow transitioned to a more supportive crust with some pockets of chalk a few hundred feet down.

As we lost elevation you could literally feel the snow transitioning with every turn.

…until finally, it was corn time.

Nice turns through here.

Finishing off the bottom section.

…and a look back at the full line.

In the morning we were concerned that we’d have to skin the mostly flat road on the way out. But the snow stayed just supportive enough for us to keep some momentum and cover the distance back to the truck in about thirty five minutes.

We did have to walk a few times, like here to get across this fresh slide path.

Back at the truck with a fun ski under our belts and nowhere to really be, we elected to squeeze every ounce out of our day off work.

Brats, chips, and a prolonged apres ski were in order.

…along with these. How else would we have ended this day?

Let’s hope it snows again in April or this thing could be over relatively quick. Brian and Rick, thanks for making this one happen!

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