At 13,988', Grizzly Peak (the one in the Sawatch Range, that is, there are many more mountains bearing the same
name) is the highest of Colorado's Thirteeners. The shortest access is via Grizzly Lake, which is be reached via
a good trail from Grizzly Reservoir, which in turn is reached via the often pretty marginal Lincoln Gulch Road
from Highway 82. If snow conditions are good, the couloir that leads from the lake to the summit is both a good
snow climb and a great ski descent.
Routes: NE Couloir (Grade I, Class 3, moderately steep snow)
References: Garratt and Martin, Colorado's High Thirteeners , Cordillera Press 1992
|Grizzly Peak (far background) in June from just north of Independence Pass|
Party: DB solo (Thomas Vojta to Grizzly Lake, Monique Belitz to the creek crossing)
Route: NE Couloir (about half of it), ski descent
Equipment: AT skis (DB)
Time: 5 hrs roundtrip from Grizzly Reservoir
Trip report: I had only an afternoon, so I decided to get up as high on Grizzly Peak as I
could and ski at least part of the couloir, to justify having carried my skis all the way from Oregon. Upon reaching
the basin below Grizzly Lake I opted to switch from sneakers to ski boots and directly go up a snow field rather than
following the trail. What a mistake! I postholed the entire way, which cost me quite some time. From the lake upward
the postholing continued, and I occasionally escaped onto scree, which was not ideal in ski boots either. Finally
the snow improved, and I went up the couloir at a reasonable pace. I had set my turnaround time to 5:45pm (three
hours from the trailhead), and I faithfully stopped at the time, at an elevation of about 13,300', and put on my skis.
The skiing was better than I expected, and I chose to go right (East) of the lake, chasing some marginally connected
snow fields, and producing some scratches in the bases of my skis. At about 12,000' the snow fields definitely ran
out. While taking off my skis I managed to cut myself quite severely in the right thumb. I bled surprisingly severely
for about an hour, and got blood all over my gear. Thomas, who had joined me again at that point, offered some paper
tissues, but they got soaked through in no time. Still, an hour later we were back at the car, where Monique was waiting
for us. Except for the crappy snow it was a nice trip, and skiing the entire couloir must be superb!
Click the pictures to see a larger image.
The couloir from around 12,000'
The couloir from a point near Grizzly Lake
The base of the couloir
The couloir at around 13,200'