Mt Princeton

Dan and Courtney on the Summit of Mt. Princeton

Courtney and I are vacationing in Colorado, and yesterday we climbed Mt. Princeton (14,197′), a 14er in the Sawatch Range.  We hiked ~4200′ of vertical, which took us about 8 hours.  We underestimated the effect of the altitude, even though we have hiked at higher altitudes before.  Headaches and lots of huffing and puffing – coming from sea level a few days earlier did not help.  We both agreed it was one of the toughest hikes we’ve done.  We took a well-deserved soak in the Mt. Princeton Hot Springs afterward.

The most difficult part was the drive up the Mt. Princeton Road.  We took on the Mt Princeton Road in a 2WD Ford Focus and survived, but I wouldn‘t try it again. We had to go extremely slowly to avoid bottoming out on the many large rollers. We scraped several times and spun our tires, but escaped without getting stuck. The road is very narrow and there is no room to pass or turn around – 4WD vehicles were catching up to us and adding to the stress. We parked at a pullout below the radio towers not knowing what was ahead. The whole thing was funny in retrospect once we were safely back at the bottom.  We wished we had taken some pictures or a video, but it was too stressful at the time.

The panoramic view from the top of Mt. Princeton was spectacular!

Silverton Mountain

The second part of our ski trip to Colorado a few weeks ago took us to Silverton Mountain.  It is a new ski resort that opened in 2003 with a different skiing philosophy.  They have one lift that takes you to backcountry terrain that can be accessed via short hikes.
You ski in guided groups for safety and to preserve untracked snow.  The idea is that you get to ski steep terrain with fresh powder.

Silverton Mountain chairlift

Silverton Mountain chairlift

Hiking to the top of Silverton Mountain

Hiking to the top.

The downside to Silverton is that it requires more physical exertion for fewer runs.  We skiied 4 runs the first day, and 5 the second day.  We happened to hit it just after a big snowstorm, but the thermometer also hit 60 degrees both days.  There was great powder in the trees, but the snow in the sun was very thick and heavy.  It wasn’t ideal, but we still had a great time and could appreciate the potential the mountain holds.  The clear skies gave us great views of the surrounding scenery.

Storm Peak and the Grande Couloir, Silverton, CO

Storm Peak and the Grande Couloir.

Storm Peak, Silverton, CO

Storm peak and the back side of Silverton, taken from the exit road.

View from Tiger Claw, Silverton, CO

The view from Tiger Claw.

Silverton is definitely a ski area for bros.  The base lodge is a tent with a wood stove and no running water.  It’s main purpose is to serve beer, and it has an interesting collection of bench seats from mini vans to for seating.  The equipment shed is an old school bus buried in the snow.

Silverton Mountain Correctional Facility

When you finish a run, this bus picks you up and brings you back to the lift.

Silverton Mountain base lodge

The base lodge is a tent. The equipment shed is an old school bus.

Silverton Mountain base lodge

Inside the base lodge.

Skiing Palmyra Peak

After two days of powder and clouds at Telluride, the weather finally cleared on Wednesday, and we hiked and skied Palmyra Peak (elevation 13,320 ft).  It definitely had the best snow and best views in Telluride.

Palmyra Peak, Tellurde, CO

The peak is 1,500 vertical feet above the Prospect lift, and the hike took about 1 hour, 40 minutes.  It was grueling but worth it.  It effectively ended our ski day!  There were a few difficult to navigate bands of rock, and several stretches of loose rock.  This picture taken from Gold Hill, shows the entire hike.  The Prospect lift is on the right end of the ridge.

Palmyra Peak and Black Iron Bowl viewed from Gold Hill, Telluride, CO

From the top of Palmyra Peak you get this spectacular 360 degree views of the San Juans.  The peak comes to a point that is about 10 ft wide at the top.

Panoramic view from Palmyra Peak, Telluride, CO