My buddy Ben Conners texted me on a Saturday to see if I wanted to join the following day and skin/ski 13er Jacque Peak to the south of Copper Ski Mountain. Jacque Peak is fairly close to Interstate 70 and Highway 91 yet remains elusive to skiers due to its proximity to the Climax Mine, which flanks the peak’s east and southern slopes. I was itching to get back on the skins and skis and told Ben I’d meet he and his wife Anna-Lisa and their new dog Jax at 7am Sunday morning despite a not so ideal forecast as has been par for the course this spring. J and Derek joined me as well and we all three plus Kona rolled the 25 minutes over to Copper in my truck in a rain/snow downpour. Whatever…we were thinking at least we’d get a nice skin up Copper Ski Mountain and then if the weather was horrendous, just ski down. Plus, I was thinking perhaps I would fare better than my last adventure up Jacque from the east and Highway 91 not in terms of skiing and a gorgeous bluebird corn-filled day, but in terms of the aftermath when we returned to the car. That account can be read here. I believe we all agreed that the best possible method of approaching Jacque with the intent of skiing it is from Copper after the ski mountain closes. Copper doesn’t allow uphill travel during ski operating hours. We learned that in another experience up Copper Creek from Highway 91 and the Climax Mine area attempting Jacque in this report. It was wonderful to finally meet Anna-Lisa (AL) and their new dog Jax in the parking lot at Copper’s base. We then all started leisurely skinning up the resort gaining about 2,200′ to the summit of Union Mountain and the top of the uppermost lift in 2 hours or so. The weather was snowy and socked in somewhat but there were glimpses of sun here and there and the occasional blue sky.
However, when we reached the ridge, the stiff west wind battered us pretty hard. It wasn’t cold (air temp was still in the 30s), but the wind was pretty sustained and just plain brutal as it pelted us with hail and snow with the clouds moving across the ridge and Jacque Peak ahead. AL was on snowshoes and looked ahead at the long ridge with the wind whipping and decided to remain at the top of the Union Lift for a bit before descending down Copper’s ski slopes. Probably a good call as the weather was fierce the rest of the way up Jacque’s northeast ridge. Jax followed Ben, Kona followed me, and J and Derek pressed on as well over the bumps along the ridge. Thank goodness it wasn’t cold air temperature-wise as we would have turned around if not for ourselves then definitely for the dogs. We knew skiing the loaded east face was out of the question considering we could hardly see it, so we just all agreed to hit the summit and ski the northeast ridge back down. My only concern was Kona getting cold, but she had her Fido Fleece jacket on and I believed she would be ok considering it wasn’t that cold out. However, I didn’t want her to be miserable on her 8th birthday (yes, that Sunday May 17 was Kona’s birthday), but it was a quick up and down. Part of me just wanted to turn around with Kona as I had summitted Jacque previously, but then again I wanted to be with Ben, J, & Derek as this would be their first time up the peak. We continued upwards.
The entire northeast ridge is very skinnable and you can leave your skis/skins on the entire time. Ben & Jax topped out on Jacque’s 13,205′ summit, followed by me and Kona, and we took some pics and enjoyed what we could of the view.
Ben & Jax skied down while J and I waited for Derek to join us, took a few pics, and then Kona & I descended.
It was a fairly quick descent and soon enough after some skating with skis on and a final boot up to the summit of Union Mountain we were home free for 2,200′ of fun powder down Copper’s ski slopes. The ski down Copper was the most fun portion of the 5-1/2 hours out. 4″ of creamy powder on top of a hard base equates to one fun time.
Back down at the base we headed to the Healthy Tomato for a sandwich and said our goodbyes. Other than a little wind burn on the cheeks and nose and a tired pooch, we all escaped Jacque fairly unharmed and had a good time to boot. I think Kona enjoyed her 8th birthday. At least, I keep telling myself that.