Alice’s prominence and grace rival that of Long’s Peak. The 1200 foot east face stands as one of the park’s truest hidden gems, only fully revealing itself to those who make the complete trek. The Rabbit Hole Couloir, which is the most classic line on the peak, can only be fully assessed once you have committed to a full day of hiking in.
For this mission, Austin, Dan and JoMon got bivy permits and decided to make a night of it. Being a mid-spring mission, the temps were perfect and there was still enough snow to make things interesting. During the night, we were woken multiple times by the roar and crash of unmistakable rock fall from somewhere off in the darkness, yet erily in the direction we had intended to travel when the sun began to rise. “Geologic time includes now,” Gerry Roach once said. How true.
But alas, we always come with a plan B.
In the morning, we planned to ski off the summit south and down a line that skirts the beautiful east face instead of the Rabbit Hole in lieu of the symphony of granite from the night before. This line would allow us to ski directly over to pilot peak. Pilot was Austin’s dads last summit of the 100 highest and to this day the summit register he put in place some 40 plus years ago still resides in its place and has only been signed by a hand full of people.
To skirt the east face, you first must travel the ridge, directly in front of you from the approach, as it heads north west (ish) until it plateaus and then turns almost directly south. This will send you above the east face.
Once you can pinpoint the ridge and the Rabbit Hole Couloir, the summit is pretty straight foreward. Make sure you are comfortable managing a fairly steep and slick slope near the summit.
As with many peaks in RMNP, the weather moved in very quick, the snow that had been melting all day froze to near bullet proof status and the clouds descended on Alice with unnerving consistency. Visibility and temperature dropped in harmony.
We decided to nix Pilot and get back to our gear stash and take shelter for awhile. Snow became rain as the system moved on and we were soaked by the time we got back to the bivy.
If anyone is wondering, Pilot too may offer a very neat ski line, but we will have to come back for it. Half an hour after we got back to the stash the storm broke and we were treated to some unreal beauty as the clouds and fog rose up Chiefs head and Alice. It was time for the 7.4 miles back to the trailhead.
At this point in the season, the trail was still covered in a dense veil of snow, but slowly the snow began to reside and eventually we regained the standard trail were the shoes came on for the final 5 miles or so back to the trailhead. This mountain is a gem for skiing but no matter how you approach it its going to be a long one, hence the donkeys we saw a few others using…
Alice may be a hard won battle, but the opportunity and sheer grandeur make this one of the peaks we are hesitant to tell others about. You will truly feel wild alone and free as you approach this beautiful peak.