Guidebook

Technical and Enduring Ski Mountaineering Routes of Colorado's Elk Range

This guidebook consists of routes that combine some of Colorado’s most difficult ski mountaineering objectives into continuous demanding adventures.

Michael Wirth

Description

This guidebook shows some of the longer days I took to accomplish my project to climb and ski all 59 peaks above 13,000’ in Colorado’s Elk Range.

One of the directions I foresees ski mountaineering taking is by combining endurance and technical challenges into one. That is, piecing together multiple challenging objectives into one effort.

I admire those who came before me, like Chris Landry, and skied these challenging lines with archaic and heavy gear. I foresee the future of ski mountaineering as a combination of great steep skiing, and a combination of endurance and technical challenge. After all, nowadays we have some amazing gear that is mind-bogglingly lightweight, so we should use it to its full potential.

The routes in this guidebook are intended for an experienced ski mountaineer that craves long days in the mountains. As you grow as a mountain athlete, particularly a ski mountaineer, you come to the realization that many of the classic lines can be combined with other rarely explored objectives to offer new and unique experiences. Furthermore, in the spring, when warming is the primary avalanche concern, you can play with aspects and listen to the mountains in order to ski an east face in the morning, a west midday and a north later.

Of course, nothing is absolute in the mountains, so connecting with them, listening to them, proceeding when they permit, and turning back when they don’t is a must. Always remember, an old mountaineer is a good mountaineer.

So, take this guidebook with a serious tone and approach these routes with humility and responsibility. Reinhold Messner once said, “Mountains are not fair or unfair, they are just dangerous.” This is true, but we find opportunities in them, we never conquer, thus we will always connect.

Why Just Ski a Classic?
The best Routes on FATMAP, hand-picked by FATMAP's Editorial team.

Why Just Ski a Classic?

Colorado
1 day +
21.4 km
2,492 m
2,492 m
41 °
A ski mountaineering route that gives you the best view of the classic "North Maroon's North Face" ski descent, and finishes off with skiing it!
Extreme
Private
The Precarious Progression
The best Routes on FATMAP, hand-picked by FATMAP's Editorial team.

The Precarious Progression

Crested Butte
1 day +
22.3 km
1,952 m
1,951 m
37 °
A ski mountaineering tour to ski three peaks: the first two are quite straightforward while the crux is saved for the end
Extreme
Private
Power of Five
The best Routes on FATMAP, hand-picked by FATMAP's Editorial team.

Power of Five

Crested Butte
1 day +
37.8 km
2,846 m
2,846 m
27 °
The Power of Five is a ski mountaineering route that plays with aspects so that five ski descents can be accomplished in a single push.
Extreme
Private
The Granodiorite Traverse
The best Routes on FATMAP, hand-picked by FATMAP's Editorial team.

The Granodiorite Traverse

Marble
1 day +
45.2 km
3,434 m
3,434 m
31 °
An incredibly challenging ski mountaineering route to summit and ski 4 remote peaks above 13,000' in the Capitol-Snowmass Massif
Extreme
Private
Thunder Pyramid and Lightning Pyramid
The best Routes on FATMAP, hand-picked by FATMAP's Editorial team.

Thunder Pyramid and Lightning Pyramid

Colorado
7 - 8 hrs
11.0 km
1,706 m
1,706 m
46 °
A poetic ski mountaineering route to connect with mountain goats on two of the most challenging peaks in Colorado
Extreme
Private