The plan was to meet at the trailhead at 6:30. I was excited though, so I went to bed at 8:15 last night. And therefore woke up at about 4am, ready to go. I ended up being 20 minutes ahead of schedule. I stopped and gave my car a good, much needed squeegee, got lost on my way to the trailhead, and still ended up there 10 minutes early. So I took a quick nap.
First Light on Loveland Pass [Photo: Aaron Rice]
By 7am sharp we were skinning to the rising sun and setting moon.
Moonset [Photo: Aaron Rice]
As the sun rose we got to scope our skin track and lines on the SE face of Citadel for a couple hours on the nearly 3000ft climb.
Southeast Face of Citadel [Photo: Aaron Rice, Pictured: Gary Fondl]
We ended up deciding that the safest ascent was right up the middle staying mostly on the scoured sections. This meant some boot-packing though.
A View of the Divide [Photo: Aaron Rice, Pictured: Gary Fondl]
From just below the summit of Citadel we could see a rather large natural avalanche on the north couloirs. But boy did the snow right next to the slide look good. We thought better though.
Good size natural [Photo: Aaron Rice]
We spent some time deciding where the snow looked best but also stable. I was pretty happy with our decision and from the looks of it so was Gary.
Ripping Turns [Photo: Aaron Rice, Skier: Gary Fondl]
Buu..tter [Photo: Aaron Rice, Skier: Gary Fondl]
A very nice well earned run. But we still had more plans…
A Nice Painting [Photo: Aaron Rice]
The whole first run was nearly 3k vertical and quite the trek in. In the picture below, we started off to the right of the bottom right corner and summited way at the top in the top left corner.
Run 1 [Photo: Aaron Rice]
As I said, we still had plans and it was only 11am. We decided to take a lap on some north facing trees we scouted on the walk in. They looked deep. There were a couple natural or maybe human triggered (it was hard to tell) avalanches on some of the very steep north aspects.
North Facing Avalanche [Photo: Aaron Rice]
We played it safe, and stuck to lower angle trees and only skied a steeper slope if it was small. We went just above treeline to check it out. But the wind was howling up there so we quickly transitioned and headed down. We had timed our descent off Citadel perfect, as any longer and we would have been up at 13,000ft when the wind came in.
Windy [Photo: Aaron Rice]
The snow in the trees was awesome! Soft and creamy at the top and soft and deep at the bottom. We were so psyched on the run we headed up for another.
Powdery goodness [Photo: Aaron Rice, Skier: Gary Fondl]
The exit was a bit thin, some willow bushwhacking was required.
Bushwhacking [Photo: Aaron Rice, Pictured: Gary Fondl]
Right as we exited the snow started falling. A perfectly timed, great day in the backcountry.