The snow is absolutely perfect up high in the Indian Peaks Wilderness. Mt Neva, Mt Jasper, and Skywalker are all in. Mt Neva is easily accessible from the Fourth of July Trailhead. The road is clear to the trailhead. To get to Mt Neva you will take the Arapaho Pass / Peaks trail. The trail is clear of snow until the Fourth of July Gold Mine where the trail diverges northeast for the Arapaho Peaks, and west for Arapaho Pass. You will continue west to Arapaho Pass.
At roughly four miles from the trailhead, at the top of Arapaho Pass the trail diverges again at roughly 12,007′. The Arapaho Pass continues in a northerly direction, and the Caribou Pass trail continues west toward Mt Neva. Again, you will stay on a westerly course. Lake Dorothy is the prominent lake under the cliff bands of Mt Neva. At the time of this trip, the lake was still frozen, but it won’t be for long.
Once Lake Dorothy is in sight, you will hook the small trail that goes to the lake’s shoreline. Pick an azimuth from the lake to the Mt Neva summit , there will be a mix of snow and boulders. Once you get to the grand bowl of Mt Neva you will have several options. Above the bowl are several couloirs that are 45+ degrees – all of which you can ride from the summit in to the bowl. You can achieve around 1500 vertical feet of drop from any of these. You will notice four distinct couloirs. The first two on your far left as facing the mountain are the most reasonable.
The last two are a bit more tricky. One is 50+ degrees possibly steeper near the last few hundred feet to the top. The were runnels coming off this one. The last to the far right looks like a danger trap. There is a cornice hang-fire that is the size of a school buss. Even when that cornice calves off, the degree on the top looks unreasonable. Especially with much better choices right next to it. The first three couloirs will gain the summit ridge.
Whichever couloir you choose it will drop you in to the bowl. The bowl will take you down to two unnamed lakes according to the USGS GNIS. However, both of these lakes are the headwaters for Middle Boulder Creek so it is surprising they are unnamed. There are endless lines that drop from this bowl all the way over to the Mt Jasper bowl. It is a playground several miles in diameter.
To return you have two choices; return to the Mt Neva bowl and Lake Dorothy by climbing back up, or ski / skin out and hook up with the main trail (back to Fourth of July Trailhead). I chose the latter. I rejoined the trail at the Fourth of July Mine.
I would highly recommend this area for anyone. There is something for every skill set from intermediate to expert. You cannot beat the views of Indian Peaks Wilderness from Mt Neva.