Ascent of Colfax Peak East on 2018-11-17

Climber: Eric Gilbertson

Date:Saturday, November 17, 2018
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
Peak:Colfax Peak East
    Elevation:9355 ft / 2851 m

Ascent Trip Report

Eric and Tyler

November 17, 2018

I had just skied Baker and Sherman on Monday via the Squak Glacier, but still needed to climb Colfax. I decided to ski Colfax via the shorter Heliotrope Ridge approach, and Tyler was interested in joining.

We met up at the Heliotrope Ridge trailhead Friday night, and slept at the trailhead that night. We were up at 4:30am and another group of 3 skiers was just starting up the trail. We got moving around 5am, hitting intermittent icy snow around 4000ft. We continued in trail runners up past treeline and switched to ski boots and crampons around 5,000ft. One of my crampons had somehow broken, but I was able to use a ski strap to lash it to my foot, and it held all day.

We noticed the group of 3 skiers were ascending much farther East, which seemed more difficult. A group of 3 ice climbers planning to climb the Cosley Houston reached treeline about the same time we did. I’m kind of glad we weren’t climbing, since the Cosley-Houston route was very crowded that day.

The snow was very icy, and we cramponed up to the Coleman glacier, then roped up and continued ascending. The crevasses are beginning to fill in, and we found snow bridges all the way up to the Baker-Colfax saddle. On our ascent we saw the group of 3 skiers reach a flat spot on the Coleman Glacier, but they turned around there.

The snow was still very icy, and seemed unlikely to change, so we ditched the skis at the saddle and continued up the ridge to East Colfax. From there we wove around the left side of the peak, then climbed a steep snow ridge to the Colfax summit around 11:30am.

There was no wind, it was pretty warm, and there were great views. We hung out for an hour before retracing our route to our skis. From the saddle we skied down a few hundred feet before switching to crampons to downclimb a steep section. We tried skiing again, but it was extremely icy and I actually slipped once and quickly self arrested with my whippet. My skis popped off, though, and the brakes were basically useless. Luckily the skis stopped at a flat spot instead of sliding into a crevasse.

It didn’t seem worth the risk of sketchy ice skiing and maybe losing the skis, so we roped up and cramponed the rest of the way down. As we came into view of the Cosley-Houston route we saw the group of 3 ice climbers about 2/3 or the way up, and then one or two other climbers below them starting out.

We soon made it back to the trail, switched to trail runners, and hiked back to the cars by about 4:45pm.

Link to full trip report and pictures.
Summary Total Data

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