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On the hill: A banner day

Bob Ward
The Aspen Times
Aspen, CO Colorado

Last Sunday I skied with three friends in three different drainages: the Roaring Fork, the Fryingpan and Lake Creek.

I don’t think anyone intended it that way, but it was a cool afterthought to a fine ski tour that I’ll call Lost Man and Beyond.

On the other hand, maybe I’ll call it the Double Dick Tour, since Richard and Dick deserve the credit for the route, while Doug and I just skied along. (Well, Doug drove the car. I contributed cookies and nothing else.)

We started at the upper Lost Man trailhead east of Aspen, hiked and skinned up past Independence Lake to an unnamed 13,000-foot peak just east of the Lost Man divide. From there we had a beautiful ski down a north-facing snowfield into the headwaters of North Fork Lake Creek.

It was cloudy with flat light when we’d dropped off the peak, but as we began booting up the steep flank of a different, unnamed, 13,150-foot peak to our north, the sun began to bake both us and the increasingly moist snow. Richard had picked out this peak, envisioning good skiing on the north side. We reached the rocky summit and peered down a shady, snow-filled chimney with a huge chockstone that made it look like a tunnel.

Dick shot lots of photos as everyone descended, skis on their backs, through the slot. At the bottom, a delicious north-facing snowfield opened up below us, and we took various ways down, avoiding rocks and seeking the best corn. At this point we’d dropped into the headwaters of the South Fork of the Fryingpan.

We then traversed up and over a little saddle near Lost Man Lake, and stopped in a snowy basin below the thawing lake for cookies, PBJs, cheese and Red Bull. We laughed out loud at crass jokes and slapped on the sunscreen, because the sun seemed to follow us everywhere, despite the clouds all around.

Bellies full, we slogged back over the Lost Man divide in what felt like tropical heat. Two of us hiked up Geissler Mountain, seeking a few more turns, while two others decided to watch from below. As the snow turned to mush, however, the two guys above chose to turn around a couple hundred feet below the summit.

From there we skied a kind of corn chowder (with a red-dust accent) from the shoulder of Geissler back along the headwaters of the Roaring Fork to Highway 82, where we drank beer in our shorts.

It was a five-star, three-basin day.

bward@aspentimes.com


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