Coon Hill to Ptarmigan Traverse

Coon Hill is the starting point of a winter traverse over to Ptarmigan, which I have done three times (3/20/2003, 3/12/1998, 2/15/2011). The recent tour was with Elke Dratch and Kim McGranahan. We had tried it three days earlier but were blown off Coon Hill. On this day it was warm, clear, and calm, ideal for travel. Total climb was 4500 feet — we skied a nice run into Laskey Gulch to break up the ridge walk.


Above: The start, right above the tunnel.


Above: View of the southern Gore: Buffalo, Red, Silverthorne, and Rain on far right.


Above: Typical view along the ridge. After several hours Ptarmigan (center) comes into view and seems close, but it takes quite a while for all the ups and downs near the end of the route. Ptarmigan Pass is the last saddle before the easy climb to Ptarmigan and the long descent to the trailhead in Silverthorne. Important point: When we finally hit the ridge just S of Ptarmigan’s top, the high plateau was mostly grass and we could keep our skis on, but barely. Had we instead circled around to the left (near cornices in the photo) we would have had a much easier descent to the tree line area where we start descending the trail.


Above: Good skiing can be had, even on the south side of the ridge. Here Elke descends would might be called Laskey Bowl. Of course, after dropping 1000 feet or so, we had a bit of a climb back to the ridge.

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