A Great Summer Ski: Mt. Neva

I was hesitant to commit to a summer-ski attack with Collin last week for a variety of reasons. I took a huge whipper at Clear Creek the Tuesday before, and that whole “taste death, live life” mantra (see: Ski Patrol) made me much more interested in climbing more, especially outside. I was also wary of a 4AM wake up before another long week of work. But, being myself, I just couldn’t turn down an invite to ski on June 19th in the Indian Peaks Wilderness.

Me on the approach, Mt. Neva in the distance. Photo: Collin

With an unexpected 1AM visitor arriving from Knoxville late Friday night, and return to the airport only six hours later, I found myself fairly sleep deprived even though we didn’t hit the trailhead until the unheard of hour at 9:30AM. Having never been in the Indian Peaks, nor doing any research on our objective of Mt. Neva, I was pretty concerned that we might not even get a ski in because of the late start.

Myself and the north face of Mt. Neva. Photo: Collin

We charged the three-mile approach in about an hour and a half, already getting teased by other trail-goers for having skis on our backs. The north face looked surprisingly good, so we transitioned into ski boots, grabbed our axes, and got halfway up the slope when we decided that the middle couloir would be a good ascent route.

Collin approaching our couloir of choice, the furthest left in view
Myself getting above the crux of the couloir. Photo: Collin
This style of shot is all the rage these days. Thanks for the idea, Ski Journal!
Collin, higher in the couloir

We made quick work of the bootpack, so quick in fact I was so confused why it didn’t take very long and why I wasn’t winded at the top. Must have been all those gnarly 14ers I’ve been climbing, and the fact that it was maybe 1,000 vertical to the elevation of 12,814 feet at the summit. I should ski more mountains below 14,000 feet to make myself feel good!

Myself after topping out of the couloir
Collin wears short shorts

From the summit, I could finally see why Collin raves so much about the Indian Peaks. Dozens and dozens of both filled-in and melted-out couloirs surrounded us on the adjacent mountains of North and South Arapahoe Peaks, Mt. Jasper, and others. The south face of Longs in the distance was a telling sign that we were close to the more well-known Rocky Mountain National Park, more than likely overflowing with tourists on such a beautiful Saturday. Meanwhile, we saw maybe 20 people all day long on the trail.

Myself on the summit of Mt. Neva. Photo: Collin
Summit shot. Photo: Collin

We hardly lingered on the summit thanks to the late-morning start, and decided to ski the north face thanks to an odd bergschrund/moat in the middle of the couloir, and the super-soft snow. The ski down made me unbelievably happy, however, and made all the events leading up to it completely worthwhile.

Myself skiing from the summit. Photo: Collin
Collin skiing from the summit
Collin shredding into the north face

I skied super-well and even threw an air into the middle of my line before the run ended. We collected our trail shoes and kept skiing for as long as we could.

Blue: Climb, Red: Ski, Green: Major huge air!
Collin on the way out

We still had to hike out about 2.5 miles to the car, and had quite the time crossing a series of creeks getting back to the trail. I couldn’t help but take a few summer wilderness shots, despite Collin berating me for taking an extra few minutes to get flower photos.

I mean, it is summer, technically….

When we got back to the car, I found out the next day was Collin’s birthday, so I was even happier I decided to make the trip. It was a great way to spend June 19th, thanks again Collin, and I hope your birthday was one to remember!

You can read Collin’s take on the day here.


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