Mount Lincoln
Descent Route: Putnam Gulch
Sunday, January 22
The 2006 Ski The 14ers project is officially underway with my climb and ski descent of Mt. Lincoln. Mt. Lincoln lies in the Mosquito Range, near Hoosier Pass, and next to several other 14ers, including Mt. Bross, Mt. Democrat, and Quandry Peak.

Photographer Tom Z and I left the Subdivision Road (Moose Creek) trailhead (11,140 ft.) at 9:15 a.m.. It was an absolutely perfect weather day, although a bit cold. When we left the car it was -7 degrees F. We started skinning up through the forest to treeline, where we turned north to traverse over to Putnam Gulch. From Putnam Gulch we ascended up to almost 13,000 ft. then headed south to the East Ridge that splits Putnam Gulch from the Cameron Amphitheater. Considering all the snow we have had in the northern and central mountains this year, the Mosquito Range as a whole is quite devoid of snow at this time. It is obvious that the winds have wreaked havoc on these peaks, and we were forced to walk over dry ground for a couple miles on the ridge.

We summited Mt. Lincoln at 12:15, taking exactly three hours to reach the summit. It was brutally cold on top, with a light west wind dropping the wind chill to around -20 F.We spent 20 minutes on the summit, taking in the amazing views of many of Colorado's 14ers, from Torrey's peak to the East, to Pikes Peak in the South, to the long Sawatch Range and even a couple of the Elks near Aspen in the West. When our toes were sufficiently numb, we stepped into the skis and descended from the summit directly down the East Face of Mt. Lincoln to Putnam Gulch. The skiing was mildly horrible, with various forms of cartone, sastrugi, and breakable slab under foot. But that is to be expected this time of year I suppose. In fact, sometimes, the worse the snow conditions the more fun it can be challenging yourself to make clean turns and stay upright. Fortunately, there was a narrow gully of snow down the gulch to ski on.

We were back at the car at 2:15 after almost 3000 ft. of skiing. We shared the mountain with a small herd of Bighorn Sheep today, which is always one of my favorite things about the 14ers.

With better snow conditions, Mt. Lincoln has some awesome ski descent potential. The lines on the face above the Lincoln Amphitheater looked almost ski able, but 10-20 ft. drops onto hard pack are not an option. I checked out the Russian Couloir, which drops off the south face of Lincoln into Cameron Amphitheater, but it was pretty shallow and had a mandatory air at the bottom. The North Face of Lincoln also has some long, sustained ski descent potential, but these routes would be best with a stable, spring snowpack.

All in all it was a fun day on Lincoln, and even better now that we have officially started the project. Tomorrow we will head back over to Summit County to try a line on the West Face of Quandary Peak.

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