Ghost Town Powderfest

Paul DiG skis Teocalli Bowl on Crested Butte, Colorado - April.
Paul DiG. skis Teocalli Bowl on Crested Butte, Colorado – April. Teocalli and Castle Peak are in the background.

It’s off season in Crested Butte; the ski lifts are closed and the town is quiet. So when a spring storm dropped over a foot of fresh powder last week, we had the ski area pretty much all to ourselves! We spent the last four days hiking and skiing/snowboarding all the best lines on the Butte, except now there was no tracks, no moguls, no people, and no hurry – just perfect untouched pool-table-smooth powder. Here’s a few snapshots from our fun.

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47″ in Crested Butte

Colorado, Crested Butte, Camp 4 Coffee, snow, snowy, December
Snowy Camp 4 : Prints Available

Camp 4 Coffee in Crested Butte, Colorado, smothered in snow during a week-long January storm.

Last week’s snow storms dropped almost four feet of powder on Crested Butte! The official tally at the ski area for the week was 47″, making the Butte the big winner for snowfall amongst all Colorado ski hills for the week. CB oftentimes gets less snow than other areas due to a “donut” effect where the surrounding ranges block some of the storms. But when the storms come in at the perfect west/southwest angle the snow can funnel right into the valley and dump here! Fortunately for us, this happened during the first big storm a few weeks ago, during this last storm, and it looks like it might happen again with another big storm headed this way in a few days. This winter got off to a slow start but has been piling on in December and January!

Suffice it to say, I’ve been out there shredding up as much of this pow as I can, with some great mornings at the Butte and an epic day at Monarch Pass. It would be fine with me if it keeps snowing until June!

UPDATE 1/15: The snow total for CB in the first two weeks of January has grown to 9 FEET! This is a January to remember!

Back in Colorful Colorado

Colorado, Elk Mountains, Kebler Pass, Marcellina Mtn, October, aspens, autumn, fall
Kebler Autumn Sunset : Prints Available

Golden aspens illuminated by sunset light, with Marcellina Mountain in the distance. Near Kebler Pass in the Elk Mountains, Colorado.

We are finally back home in Crested Butte, Colorado after our big 3.5-month road trip! On our first day back here yesterday I celebrated our return with a hike through the aspens up near Kebler Pass. I’ve been looking forward to this moment for several weeks now and it was nothing short of awesome, with the aspens at peak goldenness.

Colorado, Elk Mountains, Kebler Pass, October, aspens, autumn, fall
Kebler Golden Reflection : Prints Available

Golden aspens reflected in a beaver pond near Kebler Pass.

Colorado, Elk Mountains, Kebler Pass, October, aspens, autumn, fall
Kebler Golden Reflection 2 : Prints Available

The vast fields of aspens up near Kebler are like the redwoods of aspens forests — I know of no other place with such an abundance of pure, large, white aspen boles.

Colorado, Elk Mountains, Kebler Pass, October, aspens, autumn, fall
Golden Kebler : Prints Available

Golden aspens near Kebler Pass.

Walking amongst the golden aspens, I’m filled with an almost tangible feeling of the glory of our Earth, like walking through a cathedral of light. Honestly, I think this is the most beautiful thing to be experienced in nature — more beautiful than wildflowers, than waterfalls, than auroras even.

Colorado, Elk Mountains, Kebler Pass, October, aspens, autumn, fall, trail
Yellow Leaf Road : Prints Available

A trail through the aspens.

I’m so happy to be home, so stoked on Colorado!

Spring Snow in the Ruby Range

Colorado, Crested Butte, Ruby Range, Augusta Mountain, May

Southeast face of Augusta Mountain (12,559 ft.)

The ski area of Crested Butte oftentimes suffers from lower-than-expected snowfall amounts, but just 9 miles to the west/northwest the Ruby Range gets hammered with some of the highest snowfall totals in Colorado. All winter long I’ve gazed wistfully at the snow-smothered Ruby Range peaks, tantalizingly out of reach for those of us without snowmobiles. In late May now that much of the lower access roads have melted out, yesterday I finally had the chance to get out for a spring descent up in these mountains. Daniel and I hiked up and skied/rode down Mineral Point, the prominent pyramid-shaped peak visible up valley as you drive into the town of Crested Butte.

Colorado, Crested Butte, Ruby Range, Purple Mountain, May

The south face of Purple Mountain (12,958 ft.) in late May, begging to be skied.

Later in the afternoon back in town sipping beer in the sun, I gazed up the valley at the peak we just descended, pleased to finally be thinking “I just rode that!” instead of “I wish I could ride that!”

A Night Above Crested Butte

Colorado,Crested Butte,tent, moonlight, Ruby Range, Elk Mountains, dusk
Winter Camp over Crested Butte

Winter camp at dusk above the town of Mount Crested Butte, with moonrise light illuminating the Ruby Range and Elk Mountains – April.

Lately I’ve been itching for a camping adventure but have been too busy to do anything too ambitious or far away. Since we live across the street from Mt. Crested Butte, yesterday I figured what the hell, I might as well just skin up the ski slopes and camp up there for a night! It wasn’t exactly a wilderness experience (I could actually see our condo down below), but it was still nice to spend a quiet evening under the moonlight gazing at the mountains.

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