Ouray’s Snowiest Winter: 253″

According to the The Ouray Plaindealer we’ve had the snowiest winter in 60 years of records, with a whopping 253″ in town… over 21 feet!

Snow in Ouray
Storm clouds clear out of Ouray after a 3-foot dump in April

21 feet of snow is almost twice the average for Ouray. I don’t know the winter snow totals for higher up in the mountains… maybe twice that amount? It’s been an epic winter for sure.

Summer Can Wait

Who said it was spring? Winter has come back with a vengeance in April. Just like last season, March and April have switched places… March was dry, April has brought the snow. Today it felt like mid winter, with 16ºF temperatures, deep powder, and mayhem on the pass. Here’s some pictures from our morning line.

Roger Schimmel skiing some fresh powder
Roger Schimmel skiing some fresh powder.

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Chimichanga

Another great line! I’ll call this one “Chimichanga” (*name changed to protect the innocent). The weather turned nasty today as a storm rolled in; nevertheless, the same powder from our last little storm was still well preserved on this long north face. Like yesterday’s line, this route was also a new one for me. It’s so great to keep exploring and riding all these sweet lines that I’ve had my eyes on all season. Click each photo to see it bigger.

backcountry snowboarding
Here I am laying out a high speed carve. Photo by Parker McAbery.

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Champignon

This morning some friends and I rode a nice big line which I’ll call “Champignon” (*name changed to protect the innocent). 4-6″ of fresh powder, perhaps more blown in, on top of a soft base provided perfect conditions for hauling some serious ass. Here’s some photos (click each photo to see it bigger).

Skinning up high
Skinning up, almost to the top. In the background you can see more of our playground.

Backcountry Snowboarding
Here’s a shot of me dropping in; photo by Jon Neau. Look at all the terrain in front of me!

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Dreaming of Summer

It’s April, it’s snowing, and we still have two more months of snowboarding ahead (this is a good thing). But as each day passes I’ve been thinking more and more about summertime. Here’s a few photos from a backpacking trip I did last summer in the San Juan Mountains near Durango, Colorado.

Pigeon Peak

Lily on the lookout for marmots. Lilly carries all her own stuff, and even some of my stuff too! What a team player.

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Winter Camping in the West Needles

Winter Camping

Lured by a full moon and a forecast of clear skies, this last weekend I went backpacking for two nights in the West Needle Mountains in the San Juans near Silverton, Colorado. This area is incredibly photogenic; from my campsite on a 12,200 ft ridgeline, I enjoyed broad vistas of the Needle Mountains, the West Needles, and all the peaks of the Molas Pass area.

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A Few Afternoon Shots

Here’s a couple photos from snowboarding this afternoon in the rugged peaks about five minutes drive from Ouray. March is here, and spring seems right around the corner, even though everything is still smothered in fresh snow. The sun is really getting higher in the sky these days, and the foot of fresh snow that fell last night had melted to a crusty 5 or 6 inches by the time we got out there for an afternoon run. Oh well… next powder day I’ll head out in the morning if I can.

splitboarding
Here’s Parker splitboarding up in front of a rugged San Juan backdrop.

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Pillow Heaven

Pillow Heaven
Click picture to see a large version

Today we rode what was perhaps the best snowboarding terrain I’ve ever ridden in my life. This was a long, steep, narrow gully that we had previously scoped out from a neighboring mountain. What I couldn’t see from a distance is that the sides of this gully were loaded with a plethora of fluffy pillows! Many backcountry riders might agree that the only thing better than a nice steep halfpipe gully is a long series of marshmallowy pillow drops. Well, this run was the ultimate 2-in-1 combo!

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