Skiing Lead Mountain
Silver Creek Road out of Gould, CO
Partners : Jeff Richards, Austin Porzak, Geoff Engel
This very unique approach offers a little bit of everything Colorado. It has water crossings, tight sidehill sections, and big views of the surrounding mountains. For these reasons this approach really caught my attention.
To get to the trailhead you must do the first 3.7 miles of the Michigan River trail. The first part of Michigan River is wide and easy and the Silver Creek trailhead is easy to find. Early in the winter Rafael Pease and I were in this area snowmobiling and we really fell in love with this zone. It is very different and the Moose are everywhere.
You start by crossing a well-maintained bridge and the trail is easy and scenic. Wind your way through the gentle curves and you come to the first of two major creek crossings. The first crossing is wide and in early winter it has a good snow bridge over it. So gun it and go.
Soon after this creek crossing the trail moves into the trees. They are usually very close to your sled so don’t do this trail if you are concerned about the small stuff. Be prepared to dig yourself out multiple times..
The second creek crossing is more narrow but slightly deeper and sketchier. Try not to get wet here.. We were able to pass on the left side on a sow bridge just wide enough for the sled.
Continue through the tight trees and you are soon rewarded with a big, open meadow in the basin. The Never Summer Mountains are ahead of you with Teepee Mountain just left of center and Lead Mountain just right of center. Seven Utes Mountain is on your left, and Mount Cindy and the Bearpaws Peaks are on your right. It is a very stunning area.
I know at this point Geoff and Jeffs legs were on fire after being towed for 10 miles but the real work was just about to start. We skinned up towards the base of the west face of Lead and found a nice steep line to boot up. The winds were getting fierce but we motored on. After this section we gained a flat bench and kept moving towards the saddle between Lead and Cirrus. By this point the winds were relentless and we transitioned to full winter gear. This was slow going on slippery lose rocks with snow filled blackholes around them. Finally we gained the ridge and scrambled to the top. This summit was really cool and what a awesome multi sport way to approach this mountain.
The line down the west face is gained by skiing down the ridge towards Teepee then dropping into the west face. The line was thin at the top but really straight forward. Once we were off the face it was an absolute blast. The line drops down for 500 feet at a great steep pitch then opens up into a bowl before you reach treeline. The trees were actually pretty thin and perfect for skiing.
This zone has a ton of potential and in a big snow year there is potential for some incredible lines on the west face of Cirrus.