FATMAP difficulty grade
This ski mountaineering route has some of the best challenging-but-not-extreme ski lines in the Elks.
The challenge of this route comes with playing the different aspects so that all five ski descents can be accomplished in one enduring mission.
Start with the east aspects: begin by ascending White Rock Mountain to ski the east facing couloir that comes off the summit.
From here, progress North quickly to make it to the top of UN 13216 before the sun warms up that East Face too much.
This second ski is short, not steep, and should offer fun wide-open corn turns.
At this point, warming will most likely be a concern on steeper East faces, so we switch to North aspects.
UN162 is the third objective of the day.
Although it is the lowest in elevation, it comes with a couple of crux ski moves on the descent.
Pick your way to the top and then make a few careful moves on the exposed face into the tight chute.
From here, you'll be able to open it up more into the Conundrum Basin to make your way towards UN 13537.
I'm calling this peak Nefarious: it's definitely the crux portion of this ski tour.
Ascending the East Face would be rather straightforward, but since this is the fourth objective of the day, staying off of steep east aspects is in one's best interest.
Thus, ascending the ridge as quickly as possible offers the safest route.
Bear in mind that the ridge to the summit involves some serious mountaineering moves that reminded me of a looser but shorter Maroon Bells Traverse.
Once at the top of Nefarious, make a few careful turns down the North ridge.
From this point, the North face offers lovely open steep skiing that is an absolute blast.
At this point, you'll likely be tired, but you'll likely also be stoked on that last ski.
Good news! The next ski is pretty much a repeat of Nefarious' North Face.
Ascend the southwest side of Hilliard, making cautious decisions depending on sun for the day and how the snow feels.
Once at the top, ski the other side ( the north face) directly fall line into the basin below.
These last two faces offer some pristine steep skiing that is not overly steep nor exposed.
Now, the ski mountaineering is behind you.
Enjoy a mellow tour back towards East Maroon Pass as you admire Thunder Pyramid, Lightning Pyramid, Len Shoemaker and Precarious Peak.
From the top of East Maroon Pass there lies some amazing low angle corn skiing where you can really open up those ski racing turns back towards the town of Gothic, where the day began.
This tour is mostly about making safe decisions regarding snow conditions.
There are a few crux-y mountaineering moves, but the key to success for this route is fitness, and a day filled with clouds in the afternoon.