We were treated to a spectacular sunset from the summit of Lizard Head Pass: Pilot Knob, Golden Horn, Vermillion Peak, and Sheep Mountain (from L to R)
Sheep Mountain, as seen from the top of Lizard Head Pass
Pilot Knob, Golden Horn, and Vermillion Peak (from L to R)
The following morning, we started just before sunrise. The sun was just coming up as we approached Lizard Head.
alpenglow on Mt. Wilson
first light on Lizard Head
early morning light on Mt. Wilson, Gladstone Peak, and Wilson Peak (L to R)
Once we arrived at the saddle between Lizard Head and Cross Mountain, we were greeted with great views of Bilk Basin and our objective: Gladstone Peak.
Andy and Nina beginning the long traverse above Bilk Basin
Nina's paw track and Andy's skin track in the fresh, spring snow
We ascended the short, steep couloir just right of center in order to gain Gladstone's NE ridge. On the descent, we opted for Gladstone's open east face instead of the couloir. Picking our way through the cliff band to the left of the couloir proved to be the crux of the descent.
Mt. Sneffels (far right) dominates the San Juan skyline above Bilk Basin.
We were able to skin within a hundred feet of the entrance to the couloir. We then shouldered our skis, donned crampons, and began climbing up the steep, fresh snow.
great view of the San Juans, including Wetterhorn and Uncompahgre in the distance
The couloir was quite tight, with steep walls rising on either side.
Andy and Nina finishing the last few feet of the couloir's exit onto the NE ridge
Before gaining the ridge, we had to climb through ~50-ft of mixed snow and rock on the steep north face.
After some spicy moves to gain the ridge, there was one final section of steep snow leading to the summit. Here, Andy and Nina take the last few steps onto Gladstone's tiny summit.
Mt. Wilson and El Diente (L to R), and the incredible Wilson Traverse
Mt. Wilson's east face
El Diente's north face
Andy and Nina getting ready to descend Gladstone's east face
looking down on Lizard Head, with Vermillion and Co. in the distance
Andy reaping the rewards of the day's efforts
Looking back up at the summit, you can see our boot pack in the couloir on the right and our ski tracks through the cliff band on the far left.
After skiing down through Bilk Basin, we put the climbing skins back on for the ascent back up to the saddle between Lizard Head and Cross Mountain.
Nina wishing she hadn't forgotten her sunglasses
Lizard Head in all its glory
After regaining the saddle, we shed the climbing skins and made some very dusty turns back toward the trailhead.
making the most of the final strip of snow just a short distance above the trailhead
parting shot of Lizard Head as we hiked the last few hundred yards of dry trail back to the trailhead
Cold beer awaits us at the trailhead, capping off a rewarding day in the amazing San Juans.