I ran up Excelsior Peak the previous August and it was hard not to notice the inviting bowls that split off on each side of the summit and knew I had to come back in the Winter.
This was the first hike approach I had done for a ski objective and while it wasn’t as enjoyable for me as skinning through snow covered trees, it was nice to be able to gain elevation faster and more efficiently.
The approach to Excelsior from the Highway 542 trailhead.
I was the only skier that day, and while it was funny to pass people on a dirt trail with a full ski setup on my back, everyone I passed was stoked to see someone go play in the powder.
Once I got to the tree line the landscape was flat white. Clouds rolled through and the sun shined through gaps in the clouds providing beams of contrast that scanned the terrain.
The West bowl is much shallower, resulting in shorter runs.
The West Face provides a nice short runs, with the snow piling up in interesting folds. There is also the option of skiing the face on the other side of the saddle, but it’s a popular snowmobiling spot and they might beat you to the powder.
The East face of Excelsior provides the chance for the longest run.
The East face is where it’s at, providing a much longer almost 400 foot run, allowing several options for creative turns. There are also two other faces that look like they have great lines on them, but I didn’t have the gas that day to go attempt them.
The descent isn’t the best, especially if the snow is icy in the trees. Be prepared to ski through trees on the way down or bring a light pair of snowshoes, depending on conditions to prevent postholing.