Mt. Whetstone (12,527′) traverse


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.

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.
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.
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.
Whetstone’s south ridge, with myriad wet slides. Temperatures were in the 60s most of the weekend.
Carbon Peak (12,079′).
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.
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!
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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