Mummy, Dunraven, Rowe, Rowe and Hagues, May 6, 2017
We knew we were in it when we started this one. Really, there is not much of a good way to get these done and there are very few access or bail points on this route, so proper planning and pacing was key. Since conditions in Rocky Mountain National Park are often very unpredictable, we found the best window we could and made our move.
For the first 5.4 miles on the Lawn Lake trail, we moved with a bit of a leisurely pace. The afternoon was full of energy and we wanted to get into proper position to make the push as efficient as possible, so we found a good place to bivy with the west face of Mummy staring us down, waiting for us to fall asleep.
In the morning, that familiar chill of the still relevant ski season greeted our exposed skin as we climbed from our sleeping bags. The wind held its place for the time being and the sun was still lost on the dark morning. We could feel the energy though. We could feel the morning waiting to explode over the horizon. We knew that out there, high above the trees, the wind and sun were waiting to do their best to level us, to convince us that we don’t belong, to force us back down. We were ready.
At 5.6 miles the Black Canyon trail intersect the Lawn Lake trail. This is where we departed the Lawn Lake trail and followed the hurried black canyon trail for as long as we could (about .2 of a mile) then started climbing boulders to the top of the south east ridge. Once at the ridge the sun finally warmed our bodies and we pressed on to the summit of Mummy.
The summit of Mummy flew by. Being so early in the morning, we were still stuck in the early morning haze. Mummy has some pretty interesting lines on the west face but the high winds had really taken a toll on the Mummy Couloir. The north line was very straightforward and puts you just a quick jaunt away from the summit of Dunraven, which we summited next. There was little time to transition as now we were approaching the point of no return. The line on Dunraven just skirts below the ridge with several neat lines that go down to the lakes below. If you had the time and wanted to make laps on a peak in RMNP, this would be a great choice. Since this peak is fairly obscure and rarely visited, its fairly safe to say you’d find fresh snow and hardly another person!
From here the journey was really about to begin. The Rowes! We started our skin toward the the north face of Hagues and eventually skirted beneath it until we reached the Rowe Glacier. This place was still completely covered in snow and we felt more remote here than anywhere else on the trip. The Rowe Glacier is a really interesting piece of history. Not only is it one of the few glaciers still forming in RMNP, but it was also the first glacier to be identified in Colorado. It was discovered in 1880 when, during a grasshopper plague, bears in the area flocked to the glacier to eat the insects trapped in the snow. A hunter named Israel Rowe eventually tracked the bears and in turn, discovered the glacier.
Closer to Gibraltar, we were able to spot a skiable line and reached the summit ridge of Hagues in no time. At this point we could finally see Rowe Mountain. We skinned up a tad more to gain the highest ground we could and skied directly to the base of the summit of Rowe. It only took a quick boot up and we were on the third summit of the day. Clouds were building at this time and the 30% chance of an afternoon storm was fully materializing. A new sense of urgency found us on this ridge as we realized, now more than ever, just how remote this mission was. The ski down from the summit was quick lived but actually held really good snow. We made a very quick transition and charged toward Rowe on skins.
The threatening weather had us moving and in no time we were on top of Rowe Peak and ready to drop in and ski the glacier. What a fantastic, fun line. There were so many factors that made this ski a really memorable line, but I think that the fact that it was such a hard earned line was key.
We had pretty good snow coverage up the north face of Hagues and booted up to the summit pretty quickly. This ascent was fairly straight forward, but we were getting tired and he climb was turning into a bit of a grind. We kept our eyes to the sky and, sure enough, weather began to brew. We heard a few low rumbles and it began to snow a bit. Both JoMon and I were surprised by the speed at which the storm cultivated, but were more than prepared to deal with it. This was one of the things that we had discussed at length before starting this trip as we knew that, at some point, we would have weather move in on us. We began the process of descending and dropping our packs, but luckily, just as quickly as it arrived, the storm blew away from us and soon it was sunny. The storm did, however, drop the temperatures just enough to freeze the face of Hagues which we had agreed was going to be the most challenging line of the day.
The top of Hagues was fairly steep and avi debris was scattered about the face. Since the line had evidently slid recently, we were confident in our decision to continue the ski.
We skied it carefully but made sure to move quickly and exchanged some hoots at the bottom of the line. We had linked 5 amazing lines off of 5 remote peaks and couldn’t have been happier in that moment.
We reached camp at about 8pm, packed the rest of our gear, and turned on the head lamps for the 5.4 miles back to the trailhead. The first mile and a half was skiable from camp then it became patchy with some awkward sidehill patched around mile 3. the final 2 miles were completely dry.
An amazing tour of one of the more remote areas in the Park. To me it felt like being able to do this traverse on skis was something very special and we covered big distances very quick. I wonder if this was easier on skis than it would be in perfect dry summer conditions 😉
There was some type of weather station bolted into the summit of Hagues. Should you decide to attempt Hagues, please leave this station alone. Also, please respect the closures to camping off Mummy towards Dunraven in the west creek research area. Also wolf tracks all around lawn lake. Mummy Mountain first then Dunraven the Rowe Mountain then Rowe Peak then Hagues!