Sunday on Silverheels

Mount Silverheels, elevation 13,822 feet, is the 96th highest peak in the state of Colorado. It sits just east of Mount Bross and Mount Lincoln between Fairplay and Breckenridge. The mountain itself is massive, covering approximately 3 square miles, with its closest 13,000 ft. neighbor being Hoosier Ridge over 3 miles away to the north. With its gradual slopes, the peak is an excellent choice for a winter trek and is most often accessed from the north and west from Hoosier Pass/Route 9 and from the south via Fairplay. However, with most of this crew having previously hiked, climbed and/or skied it (everyone other than myself), we were looking to change it up and the idea of a long early spring approach from the east was born.

Silverheels as seen from just off County Road 50 where we parked the cars.

The preface to this story actually begins 24 hours earlier in the state of New Mexico of all places. Miller will do that story justice later. In the meantime, here’s a brief recap to get you up to speed:

I don’t get to go outside all that often these days, so on Friday when Ben and Brian hit me up and said, “Guess where we’re going Sarnelli”, my response was simple… “I don’t care, pick me up, and I can’t wait fellas.” Well, it turns out that when the weather on a Saturday in Colorado goes to cr@p, the only normal thing to do is day trip to New Mexico and climb/ski the highest peak in that state, a.k.a. Wheeler Peak.  Throw in a few Happy Campers, a new summit register featuring Paco, a chant that you learn from monk-like creatures along the way, some bad Cockles impersonations, and some G.I. Joe ad-libs that get more hilarious the second time around… and there you have it, “It’s why we live here”.

So why stop there? After consuming more calories than we burned on Wheeler, we made the long ride back to Denver, arriving at Benny’s place around midnight. Fast forward 6 very short hours and I found myself putting on the same clothes I had just taken off, ready to do it all over again. Coffee in hand, Ben, Brian, and I met at the Park ‘n Ride off 285 and then headed for the town of Como to meet Brandon and Mike. The destination: Mount Silverheels via the East Ridge.

About 100 yards from the cars things immediately get interesting. One of the few times in my life that I was happy to be wearing snowshoes instead of skis!

Other than feeling a little tired (and fatter) after Wheeler, by the time we started moving, we were all in pretty good spirits. It didn’t take long for someone to finally say, “Man, that peak looks far”. I couldn’t have agreed more. We’d get our exercise today for sure.  Soon after, the 7 or 8 speed bumps along the ridge came into view (the last of which isn’t even the actual summit).

Who knew Silverheels had 8 summits?
Down low it was a bluebird Sunday.
Leaving treeline… Ben and Brandon lead the charge.
Dillon and Ben. Photo by Brandon.
Brian and Mike on the ascent.
With all of the surrounding peaks caked in snow, the views are awesome.
Even Quandary looks good!
This is why we live here. Photo by Brandon.
The true summit finally comes into view and the wrath of the wind on Silverheels that I’ve heard so much about holds true to form.
Summit Shot – Dillon, Ben, Brandon.

It was here I wished the crew all the best on their ski descent and we parted ways until the cars. The wind on the summit ridge was so overpowering it made it hard to breathe. I watched as Ben and Brandon skied past me and then I kicked it in high gear out of there.

The G(aper) force wind on the summit ridge.

Below are some shots of the gang on their ski decent. All photos are Brandon’s. I asked Brian and Ben to say a few words for this piece, but apparently the ski down was so bad that no one will ever speak of it again!

A look at the line in its entirety.  Photo by Brandon.
A look at the line in its entirety. Photo by Brandon.

On the way home we stopped at Hog Heaven off of 285 in Bailey. Having driven past this fine establishment over 100 times between Ben, Brian and myself, surprisingly none of us had stepped foot in the door until Sunday evening. I’m still a firm believer in Smokin Yard’s in Idaho Springs as my favorite BBQ joint, but the mac ‘n cheese at Hog Heaven is unbelievable.

Hope you enjoyed this. Any day I get to spend outside in Colorado is a win in my book, but when you get to spend it with great friends, it makes you appreciate it all the more. Thanks for reading all!

P.s. Here’s the link to Brandon’s TR over at 7 Summits.

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