Mt Audobon

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 traveled valley.

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