21 May 2001 - by Steve Blecker
This past weekend, Jim Ippolito and I headed out to climb
Mt. Audobon via the Coney Couloirs. We started out at the
the Beaver Reservoir trailhead/4WD road (approx.
9,200') - see Roach's Indian Peaks book for more
details. The trail/road is melting out fast to the
wilderness boundary (approx. 4 miles in), and the
snowshoes that helped us out the previous weekend
weren't really necessary this time, although there's a
bit of postholing and plenty of wet ground to
negotiate. The original plan was to camp near the
boundary, but we were feeling good and the weather was
cooperating so we continued up the apparently little
used Coney Lake trail, which splits off from the
Buchanan Pass trail about 1/2 mile into the
Wilderness. Staying on or near the trail was a bit
tricky due to the still significant snowpack, but some
faint ski tracks aided quite a bit, as did Jim's
fortification of a stream crossing by adding a downed
log. Wondering if we were going to end up camping in
the snow, we finally came upon a reasonably flat
melted out area around 10,200' a mile or so from the
lower Coney Lake. We started out around 7am under
clear skies, in an unrelenting and ferocious wind.
Working our way up the valley we traversed numerous
talus slopes and snowfields and came to the eastern
most of the three couloirs (as described by Roach)
near the upper Copney Lake. The snow was in great
condition and 1,400 feet of 35-40 degree climbing
brought us near the Notabon/Audubon saddle around
12,900'. After getting knocked down by the occasional
70-80 mph gust (just a guess), we finally summited
around 10:30 (the windbreaks were a welcome relief).
The return glissade was a bit hairy as the snow hadn't
softened up much, just had to take it nice and slow.
After a brief rest at camp we made it back to the
trailhead around 4 pm. This is a nice alternative to
the standard Audubon route in a beautiful and sparsely
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