On Saturday, January 18 2014 I was joined by a gaggle of friends for a snowshoe trip under an extremely warm, winter sun. Due to high avalanche risks all over the Rockies (all the way to the coast actually), we decided on a relatively low angle and hopefully snow free ascent. We scored on one of our objectives at least...
Due to a mix-up with some of Marko's friends, Raf, Wietse, Andrea and I ended up breaking trail to the summit with Marko, Amelie and company following. We decided that this was our anniversary present for Marko and Amelie since they just got engaged. :)
We parked as described in Nugara's snowshoe book and followed his directions for approach. We found deep, unconsolidated snow and basically ended up waddling and wading to the summit! The warm temps also meant that the snow stuck to the bottom of our 'shoes, adding an extra 5 pounds on each foot. It was a good workout... The route is straight-forward enough but the height gain is quite a bit more than indicated on Bob's site and in the book. This is due to some elevation gains and losses en route. Care should be taken on the final summit slope as it is certainly steep enough to slide if conditions are conducive. You have the option of staying in thicker trees which is the safe line of ascent but the snow will likely be horrible in here, thanks to wind loading and facetting.
[You begin by losing some height to the creek crossing]
[It was cold by the creek - note the frost from humid air hugging the valley bottom]
[It got a lot warmer in the sun]
[Working our way up steep, unconsolidated, sugary snow]
[Heading to the top of the middle Coyote Hill]
[Looking at the highest Coyote Hill from the middle one. ++]
[Andrea comes up the main hill]
[Raf chops through the cornice on the summit ridge ;)]
[Andrea hikes to the summit]
The view from the top of Coyote Hills is awesome. The divide peaks such as Etherington, Baril, Cornwell, Strachan and Muir are in the front row and begging to be explored and climbed. Mist Mountain is a massive pile of rock and cliffs far off to the north. Other front range peaks such as Raspberry Ridge, Gunnery Peak, Strawberry Hills, Holy Cross, Head, Plateau, Sentinel and Burke reminded us of some other off season hikes we'd done in the area.
[Panorama looking west from near the summit. ++]
[Mount Baril and Cornwell - Fording Pass to the right.]
[Summit pano looking north and east to Muir, Mist, Head, Cat Creek Hills, Junction, Holy Cross and Gunnery among others. ++]
[From L to R, Shankland, Mclaren, Strachen, Muir, McPhail, Bishop, Loomis]
[Mist Mountain was a nice day and is a large mountain when seen from this angle.]
[L to R, Baril, Cornwell and Bolton]
[Andrea tries to read the map in the gusty wind while Raf and Wietse take photos]
[Raspberry Ridge is directly south of Coyote Hills]
[Mount Burke is a nice front range, off season objective too.]
[Looking east over Cat Creek Hills and Junction Hill to Pyriform, Patterson's Peak, Head and Holy Cross]
[It's a summit party! Marko, Amelie and some of their friends join us.]
After a brief summit party with Marko, Amelie and some of their friends, we were getting a bit chilled in the stiff west wind and decided to head back. The route down was fast and pleasant in the deep snow.
[Heading back down from the summit]
[Descending from the summit ridge over the cornice]
[Descending the largest of the snow slopes to the second hill from the first.]
[Finally we can actually get some speed on the 'shoes!]
[Thankfully the creek was still in the shade and frozen enough to cross without getting wet.]