The Camel’s Humps (13,043′)

Picea englemannii up close and personal. A large number of individuals around Gothic show red-orange bark (versus a more typical gray). I like these trees.

The Camel’s Humps are locally prominent twin peaks in the Copper Creek drainage, visible from much of Crested Butte. Besides holding their own on the horizon and sharing a name with my favorite mountain, they manage to earn 13er status by 40-odd feet, the closest summits to Gothic to do so. With winter hanging on like a lamprey (22 inches of snow in 24 hours from Sunday to Monday, 12 degrees this morning, no imminent respite forecasted), it seemed time to tick ’em. Two and a half hours of alternating skinning and booting brought me to their apogee, having climbed the final pitch in the footsteps of a mountain goat. Where it was going, I’m not sure, but it showed an uncanny ability to find firm purchase among the deeper drifts and loose stones of the peak.
goat (1)
The Camel’s Humps are the twin peaks to the right of the frame. Photographed in drier conditions a few weeks ago. I skied from the rightmost summit, sticking to climber’s left of the exposed scree ridge.
Looking to the southwest from the the summit. The craggy ridge in the center of the frame terminates in Avery Peak’s diamond slab. Gothic and Snodgrass are visible in the middle distance, with glimpses of Mounts Axtell, Emmons (Red Lady), and Owens left to right in the background.
Looking east at White Rock Mountain (13,540′, right) and its smaller sibling the White Widow (left).
humps (1)
Unfortunately, the morning never really warmed up as predicted, instead clouding over and bringing unwelcome snow squalls. I ended up descending on a hard crust, with here and there a skim of powder. I’ve done a bunch of skiing on relatively steep, hard, consistent snow lately, and have managed to refine my technique to the point where it’s fairly comfortable and I don’t skid out too much (doing so on light skis and tech bindings replicates the sensation of having your legs hammered repeatedly with a baseball bat). The “loud powder” (as Patrick calls it) can be its own sort of fun. Stem christies help.
Someday I’ll ski with other people again and they can take photos of me.
The ominous devil goat from an earlier tour remains. Watching. Ever vigilant.


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