Skiing Copeland Mountain, Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado
4:30am start from the Allenspark Trailhead.
Partners: Austin Porzak, Rebecca Detterline, Vanessa Polcari, Rafael Pease.
The first few miles went by quick under the guide of our headlamps. Recent storms left the trees and trails caked with snow. It was the deepest time of the year for this area and it was just absolutely beautiful.
This unique approach is tight in the trees for the first two miles then all of the sudden you have a beautiful view of Meeker, Longs, Pagoda, Chiefs Head, Alice etc. This is also your first view of the east face of Copeland. It looks far away and it is. Preserver on and you will be rewarded with a fantastic ski. Two more miles and you reach Finch Lake. From here we skinned directly across the lake and eventually veered right to ski over a bridge that leads to the next very tricky section of the approach.
The next two miles is almost impossible to follow the summer trail. Just continue on and eventually you will reach Pear Lake. Seeing this lake in winter was amazing. Big boulders along the lake offered a family of Cats a perfect spot to sunbathe. We took a quick break here and got ready to enter into potential avalanche terrain. A stunning south facing couloir is just a quick skin from the lake but we decided to go to the right of it and gain the ridge through the trees. It was getting hot at this point and we were cooking. This took some time to gain the ridge but then the face was in sight. We skinned the entire face/ridge and every false summit crushed our souls.
Eventually we gained the summit and the views were some of the best in the Park. The North face of Elk Tooth and Ogalalla were just a stones throw away and in the other direction the entire park was visible all the way to the Never Summers. Such a rewarding summit. The cat tracks even went to the summit then disappeared off towards the Divide.
We clicked in on the summit and enjoyed soft turns mixed with some wind affected snow all the way down to Pear Lake. Such a fun ski! The perfect angle to just let em rip. Past Pear we were able to ski pretty close to Finch lake but eventually the skins came back on. Just past Finch lake you have one last uphill section then you can glide the remaining 4 miles back to the trailhead.
After the mission we drove into Allenspark and enjoyed the best pizza in Colorado at the Rock Creek Tavern and Pizzeria in Allenspark. This is a 16+ mile tour so plan on a big day.