Happy Summer Solstice! There is still a lot of snow up in the hills. With the opening of the Brainard Lake Road we sent the Front Range Skimo R&D team deep into the Indian Peaks to see what the conditions are like. Here is what they found:
The Brainard Lake Road is open past the gate at the winter trail head. Unfortunately the road is then closed just before Brainard Lake near the campground and the newly built day area. This means it is about a mile from the closure to the Long Lake TH and the Mitchell Lake TH. We went up the Long Lake TH and there are snow drifts still blocking parts of the parking lot. Those should be melted within another week. The snow on the trail starts almost immediately at the trail head, and there are several miles of constant snow drifts on the trail all the way to Lake Isabelle. The Pawnee Pass trail is covered in snow until above tree line on the plateau below the Pass and Pawshoni Peak. From there to the pass it is mostly a rocky dirt trail.
We saw a lot of tracks on Mount Toll. It looks great to ski still! The Pawshoni and Shoshoni Bowls are thinner and discontinuous. The middle and right Keyhole Couloirs are still in. Apache Couloir is still in, but not connected to the summit. It is connected all the way to the ridgeline, though. Queens Way is in and still connected to the summit. The Navajo Snowfield looks great, and steep! Pawnee Peak is a rock star. The Pawnee Couloir is in and looks like it will be around for awhile. We have posted a few pictures below.
On the west side of the Continental Divide the North Couloir of Pawnee Peak is in great. Lone Eagle Cirque is amazing and every route is still in condition in this vast and remote area. The lower apron of the Hopi Glacier runs all the way to Crater Lake. The Fair Glacier is in immaculate condition, and Cherokee’s Northwest Chute is still continuous, and this is one of the first lines to melt out in the cirque.