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Rollins Pass from the East Side
July 17, 2006
Andrew, Brittany

We went to Rollins Pass thinking some lines off of Radiobeacon towards Forest Lakes might be good, since I was there with iskibc a couple of weeks before. But, then we got to Forest Lakes and this is what we found...

Where did all the snow go???? It looked like maybe one chute was skiable, but we'd hoped for more. So, Plan B....

Jeremy had posted a good TR with Fritz the day before we were skiing, and they skied Skyscraper Glacier off of Rollins Pass. It looked great and was inspiring, so we decided to try to go to Skyscraper. The problem was that we were on the east side of the pass, and the best access to the Glacier is on the west side of the pass. For those of you who don't know, you cannot drive completely over Rollins Pass any longer because a tunnel collapsed a few years ago. So, it would be a hike. The hike was even longer because the road was blocked by a snowdrife so we couldn't go all the way up the pass to the tunnel. I said to Andrew, "I think it's just around the corner"... meaning we'd see the glacier when we rounded the corner. Well, it's true! It WAS just around the corner but the corner happened to be a big corner:)

It took us about an hour to walk to the parking lot on the west side of the pass where we planned on hiking up the ridge to access Skyscraper glacier. But, then this rolled in:

Nothing like big black clouds with thunder and lightning to make you shorten your hiking time... especially since skis are pretty much a lightning rod in that exposed terrain! We'd scoped out other lines in advance just in case....

Andrew took this pic from the top of the line we skied and laughed, "Sure, just around the corner!" The arrow points to "around the corner" where the car is :) Like I said, "It's just around the corner!"

It turns out the storm stalled over a nearby mountain, so it didn't affect our ski. It was a pretty fun ski!

Andrew tearing it up:


We got to the bottom and the storm hadn't passed over us yet. We were hoping it would pass over us and then we could hike over a hump that now separated us from the basin where Skyscraper Glacier sits. But, since the storm was still coming, we decided to stay low in the basin, and hike back toward the parking lot.

We laughed because we'd just hiked 2+ hours to ski one 600-vert run :) But hey, that's like 3 runs in Ohio! (Where I grew up).

Looking back up at the line we skied

Me with the storms behind. (Yep, we're trying to burn time :) to let the storm pass)

OOOOHHH, pretty lake :)

Then, FINALLY, the storm came. We threw our packs down a bit away from us (skis on pack = lightning rod), and huddled under some bushes while it poured. Lightning happened to strike the top of the line we had JUST skied!

Once the storm passed we could ski something but we didn't want to go up the basin we had just skied since time was a factor at this point. We wanted to ski something though, which led us to think of Radiobeacon... I really did think that one chute still went. If we took that chute we wouldn't have to walk "all the way around the corner" again. Instead we could ski. We thought it might be a faster option. So, we hiked toward the west side of Radiobeacon.

Starlight star brite. I want to ski this couloir, I might :)
(The Starlight couloir off of James Peak. )

We got to the chute off of Radiobeacon and it looked good! Here's Andrew' view of it before he skied down.

Andrew taking on the couloir :)


It took us about an hour for ourselves to make our way (some bushwhacking involved) down the hill and to the place where our car was parked. We figured we hiked about 4 hours for two 600vert runs and we felt that we'd earned our turns for hiking that much on Rollins AND suffering through a good thunderstorm :)

Photos courtesy of Frank Konsella