Mt. Whetstone (12,527′) traverse

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Mt. Whetstone (12,527′) is the first major peak you see driving into Crested Butte. It’s a beautiful, imposing mountain, the sort you immediately want to trace lines on, but access is tricky due to an encircling belt of private property. Given this, and its distance from Gothic, I didn’t expect to get the chance to ski it this winter. Which is why when I met Sean during Saturday’s race and he suggested we ski something on Sunday, I mentioned it, and found myself hiking out of Gothic at 5AM on fried legs wondering what the hell I was doing.
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We started in Crested Butte, climbed over the insanely steep and forested ridge that backs the town to the south, lost a depressing amount of elevation and switched to hiking to get to the mountain’s base. From there, we skinned and booted almost 3K to the summit. Confession: I really enjoy hiking in ski boots for some reason (it’s situational, not ergonomic). I got to do plenty of it.
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Looking northeast, with Mt. Crested Butte visible across the valley, Gothic and Snodgrass on the far left, and most of the Elk Range in the distance.
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Our line of descent doglegged left into the mountain’s east-facing bowl, then followed the avalanche path in the trees below to a somewhat spicy exit gully full of rotten snow.
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Whetstone’s south ridge, with myriad wet slides. Temperatures were in the 60s most of the weekend.
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Carbon Peak (12,079′).
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Despite worrying about summiting too late in the morning during our endless approach, we ended up timing our descent perfectly on soft but supportive corn. Sean shreds. Since he’s a splitboarder, I think I can use that word with a straight face.
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After the snow ran out, we ‘schwacked out to a Forest Service road that eventually brought us back to 135, where Sean’s girlfriend obligingly picked us up. Thanks Kylee!
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My GPS eventually died, but the point to point route ended up being something on the order of 8 miles and 4500′ of gain, which undersells the difficulty of the terrain, at least in late spring conditions. I ended the weekend feeling thoroughly worked but gratified by my labors. The juxtaposition of snowy alpine above and budding willows and aspens below — from cornices to butterflies — was certainly a treat. .

Grabbing some Pliny at the Brick afterwards, even more so.

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