Elks and Beyond -- Jordan White's Traveling, Skiing and Outdoor Adventures

Traveling, Ski Mountaineering and Climbing in Colorado and…

Landry–My Favorite Line Again

Skiing Colorado’s 14ers comes down to 3 things in my mind: A lot of motivation and persistence, skiing Capitol Peak and Skiing Pyramid Peak. To me those three things really make the recipe for success in the 14er project that has become so popular these last few years. For me one of the best things about having finished the goal is being less focused on particular peaks, and rather being more focused on skiing lines that look like fun.

The View from along the Northeast Ridge is a good one in any season, but is something special when it is covered in snow.

The View from along the Northeast Ridge is a good one in any season, but is something special when it is covered in snow.

All of that said; Landry line is without a doubt the most fun line I have ever skied in Colorado. 4,300 vertical feet of steep skiing. With the top half being extremely steep and exposed, while still usually holding great snow.

May 31st may be a bit late in the year to be skiing Pyramid, but yesterday it was still doable and the first 2,000 feet skied extremely well, with about 3-4 new inches of pow on top of a solid spring base. It made for perfect climbing conditions, and great skiing conditions down the classic line. The exit couloir was interesting on skis to say the least. The apron painted a picture of the last few weeks snowfall and warmups as it was some of the biggest avalanche debris I have ever skied through. A friend of mine the other day made a good point about skiing here, and that is that “most of the time we talk about the first couple hundred feet, so when we start talking about the first couple thousand feet being great….” can we really complain about having to deal with some haggered snow on the way out? I don’t think so.

Austin and I leave the trailhead at 1:35 AM under a clear sky, with the wind blowing in all directions. The predicted freeze at 13k tonight is somewhere between 14 and 16 degrees. The lower snowpack confirms this. After skinning from the end of Maroon lake to the base of the now familiar below treeline couloir we switch to booting and the snow is perfect for the switch. In no time we are passing the last few trees as we enter the amphitheater. This really is one of the most amazing places I’ve been. Huge ridges and walls surround us as we skin below them. After a short skin we are switching to crampons to climb up to the northeast shoulder. The booting is still the best it has been all season. We crest the ridge as the sun is really starting to light up the eastern sky.

Austin makes it to the ridge just in time to see the Orange Fire ball crest the horizon.

Austin makes it to the ridge just in time to see the Orange Fire ball crest the horizon.

I feel like our timing is perfect today. Looking across the face it looks a little steeper than it did 3 weeks ago, mostly due to there being slightly less snow. Again though, it is covered in a few inches of fresh pow from the day before.

We climb onward and upward towards our goal. The climbing is steep and exposed, but the boot and ax purchase is incredible, and we make solid and quick time up to the summit.

Austin on the northeast ridge.

Austin on the northeast ridge.

The climbing consistently feels exposed on both sides.  You have to stay on your toes.

The climbing consistently feels exposed on both sides. You have to stay on your toes.

Pow!

Pow!

One of several traverses.

One of several traverses.

The last pitch to the top.

The last pitch to the top.

The views from the top are as usual amazing:

Snowmass and Capitol

Snowmass and Capitol

Looking towards Castle Peak

Looking towards Castle Peak

And of course there are the bells.

And of course there are the bells.

As we are climbing up the ridge we are able to look across and see a couple people headed up North Maroon’s apron. Later we found out of course that it was Ted Mahon and Chris Davenport, looked like fun.

Austin hits the summit.  I think there was some relief there for him.

Austin hits the summit. I think there was some relief there for him.

It is 7:30 am. Given the new snow, we opt to drop in immediately to enjoy the powder before the sun heats it up and turns it to muck. It ends up being a great choice. The skiing is edge-able and sloughy, making for very fun turns on the down. The skiing is good all the way to the exit chute where interesting is a most severe understatement.

Looking down the line is intimidating to say the least.  The line is awesome.

Looking down the line is intimidating to say the least. The line is awesome.

Looking across at one of our traverses from the climb up.

Looking across at one of our traverses from the climb up.

A few pictures of Austin skiing:
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Out the bottom of the chute we bounce and bang our way down the avi debris on the apron. We ski all the way to the creek and turn around to admire the line. I’d always do it again personally. Crossing the creek we are able to ski the first mile or so of trail down towards the East Maroon Portal. After a bit we hit the dry trail, skis on the back we hump it the rest of the way out to our waiting car shuttle. The day really couldn’t have gone better save for the hairy exit couloir.

A look back:
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This video is kind of long, but it is Chest cam footage all the way through the exit chute: Right about 16:36 you watch me get sloughed by another skier.

Landry Line from Jordan White on Vimeo.

This season just doesn’t want to seem to end, and I can’t wait til the next day out in the high country. In fact, I think that’s where I am headed right about now.

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9 Comments

  1. Hatch June 2, 2011

    Awesome TR and stellar pics, great work all around!! I did notice in one of the pics that you’re riding on next year’s BD Verdicts. I remember reading your review on Wildsnow not too long ago about next year’s sticks from BD and was fascinated by the new the design of the Verdict with particular attention directed at the addition of early rise in the tip. I’m contemplating on getting a pair that would be my early/spring season option but wanted to know your thoughts since you’ve had the chance to ride them extensively. Thanks in advance, keep up the great work.

  2. Jordan June 2, 2011 — Post Author

    Whats Up Hatch,
    Thanks for the comment. I absolutely love the verdicts for this spring skiing stuff. They aren’t the lightest ski out there, but I’m not the lightest skier either. It’s a no brainer for me, I love the skis.

    Jordan

  3. pioletski June 2, 2011

    Nice, Jordan! I totally agree, the Landry Line is the most spectacular ski run I have experienced, and I’d do it again at any opportunity.

  4. Austin June 2, 2011

    Thanks again Jordan! It was a real honor skiing the Landry Line with you! I am still amazed at how hard you charged the line WOW!

  5. drew June 2, 2011

    Quick question….why do you not use the strap with your whippet? Just trying to learn holmes! Ballsy line.

  6. drew June 2, 2011

    Just watched the rest…looks liked you strapped up.

  7. Jordan June 2, 2011 — Post Author

    Hey Drew,
    I try and use it when I think of it. I get really used to not skiing with my pole straps all winter in avalanche terrain, and I think the habit carries over. I recommend using them for sure.

    Jordan

  8. pioletski June 2, 2011

    BTW nice knees on the video, dude – ever thought about aiming your camera a bit higher?

  9. Jordan June 2, 2011 — Post Author

    Yep. But when you get back, you still have to deal with however you did it…in my case knees in the video…

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