Skiing Arizona (in Colorado)

Skiing snow with dust layer

This morning I got out for some skiing/snowboarding with some visiting German friends of a friend of a friend. There is still a little bit of white snow partially covering up the horrendous Arizona dust that smothered our mountains these last few months, so the riding was still ok. Crossing the zebra patterned snow was pretty funky… the white snow smooth and fast, then the brown snow sticky and slow. At times it felt like riding down sand dunes. I’m afraid that unless we get another late season dump, the ski season here in the San Juans is pretty much done since the dust is already starting to ravage the snowpack.

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April Powder

Skiing powder

Paul and I got out this morning for a quick powder sampling. Though only a day old, the powder is firming up fast. This late in the season you’ve got the get the powder while it’s fresh… it doesn’t last long, even on north aspects. But it was still good to ride, despite the fact that I guided us down the wrong chute (the one that had tracks in it already – I hate crossing tracks!)

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More Spring Powder

Yesterday was a blizzard most of the day in Ouray, so today my friend Paul and I headed out for a morning powder lap. Today was a beautiful calm bluebird day, and the powder was oh so delightful.

Backcountry skiing colorado
Skier: Paul McElrea.

Lots of fun hits and features in this long gully. Here’s a helmet cam of my ride:
Snowboard helmet cam video
Click here to watch the Quicktime video.

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Two More Big Lines

On Saturday we headed out for another incredible day of backcountry skiing and snowboarding. This day was just as epic as the previous day, with two equally long and awesome untracked descents. These past two days have ranked among my best backcountry days in memory.

Backcountry Skiing
Ann Driggers skis down the premier north face descent of this prominent 13er in the San Juans.

The wide open powdery faces provided ample opportunity to haul some serious ass, as seen in my helmet cam video below.
Snowboard Helmet Cam Video
Click here to watch the Quicktime video. (Minus the music here).


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Double Whammy

Today was the best day of riding of the entire winter so far. We got two massive untracked lines, with a good foot of fresh snow on top, for a total of 5,000 vertical feet up, and 5,000 down. The perfect bluebird skies, cool temps, and calm wind didn’t hurt one bit.

Ski and snowboard descent routes
Our two descent routes of the day.

Skiing untracked powder
Paul McElrea hauling ass on his new fat powder skis.


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Had to Go Again

Skiing powder
Skier: Dan Chehayl.

It has been so great to have winter back again… I had to go track up some more powder this morning. The weather was mostly socked in and snowing today, unlike the glorious lifting clouds of yesterday. But, another four inches of pow didn’t hurt at all.

Below is a helmet cam video from the first lap of the day. Excuse the video quality… my video editing skills suck almost as bad as the helmet cam itself. I didn’t even include the second line because the video was full of awful blinking-black frames.

Snowboard helmet cam
Click here to watch the Quicktime video.

Dead Cricket Gulch*

Backcountry Snowboarding
Parker McAbery snowboards down the guts of a big gulch.

Today four of us did an exploratory hike up to about 12,400′ on a high windy ridgeline. We ended up riding a pretty heavy duty 2400′ line that we had scoped out from across the valley yesterday. The last two days have been a lot of fun, exploring new terrain and learning more and more about every nook and cranny of these mountains (sometimes the hard way).

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