Skiing the ‘Coors Light Face’ of Wilson Peak (14,017 ft)
Fun fact: the mountainous design on every Coors Light bottle and can is based off of a real, skiable peaks in Colorado’s San Juans. And Wilson Peak, the most prominent mountain seen right in the middle of Coors’ design, was recently skied by two very ambitious dudes, Adam Moszynski (co-founder of Aspen-based Corbeaux Clothing) and Noah Howell. Watch their successful adventure in the video above, and learn more about the day via Moszynski’s summary, below.
– Connor Davis, FREESKIER MAGAZINE
Summary of the Wilson Peak mission, as told by Moszynski:
“Noah Howell and I had a day to remember on one of the 50 Classic Ski Descents of North America. This mission had been on my mind for years, and somehow it just never lined up. Noah has been chasing many of the 50 Classic Ski Descents of North America (from the 50 Classic Ski Descents of North America book) this spring since a planned expedition to Alaska was cancelled due to a less-than-stellar season up there. We had a couple of big successful skis together this spring already, and Wilson Peak was next on our to-do list.
There are so many variables that need to come together for a mission of this nature. Aside from the obvious skiing/climbing variables (snow conditions and snow quality for the up and the down, temperatures leading up to and during the day, the terrain, the energy and health of your body, the lighting, etc.) we must consider the ‘life’ variables; the time and driving commitment it takes is huge. But things started coming together. Noah was three hours away in Moab, and I was four hours away in Aspen. We knew the recent storm was dumping a lot of new snow and temps were going to stay cold. And we figured no one would have been up there before us, at least not recently. I got my parents to watch my daughter overnight as my wife was out of town. And off we went…
Early on Saturday, May 20, we made the approach from the standard Rock of Ages trailhead on the north side. Due to the new snow we were able to skin from the truck, and then ski all the way back to it at the end of the day: quite a rarity for May 20 in Colorado. It was freezing—about 20 degrees—and we were both feeling sluggish from travel and recent missions. But we put our heads down and kept breaking trail. With a lot of assessment on the approach we continued through what we felt were safe conditions. We were able to skin most of the route, transitioning to crampons just 300 feet below the summit. With a quick push we were on top greeted with no wind, few clouds, expansive views and powdery conditions ahead. Elated…
After a quick transition and assessment of our route, we were on the move. We set up a belay off the top to mitigate any potential wind and storm slab on the steep upper face. Once through the choke and off belay, we reassessed and started to ski. It was incredible—the setting, the line, the snow. We did a lot of smiling and hooting, but continued carefully making our way through the puzzle. Once off the face, out onto the apron and mostly out of harm’s way, we rejoiced. It’s a big relief to be safely off of a line such as this. And at this moment, the relief was coupled with the stellar conditions we just skied through. It’s was a unique experience, and we both knew that.
What made this day so special were the aforementioned conditions. Some of us have tick-lists, and often times we climb and/or ski these lines just to get them done, regardless of conditions. But sometimes we still do our best to line up ideal conditions and increase the level of euphoria and the overall experience that is achievable from a day in the mountains. On this day, all of the variables we were considering lined up to create an unforgettable climb and ski of the infamous Coors Light face of Wilson Peak, an iconic 14-er (14,000-foot peak) looming over the residents and visitors of Telluride alike; a true test piece in every sense of Colorado ski mountaineering.
Sometimes, these days turn into a simple checking-of-the-box; no lessons learned, no discernible memories, just a strikethrough on the list. Other times, these days can create lifelong memories. When it all comes together perfectly, and you feel like you are handed a gift, you wonder what you have done to deserve it. These are the days we long for as mountain people and we are ever thankful, grateful and appreciative when they occur.”