[+] Actually just several days, but look at the difference from my last post! Same place, fresh snow. First and best line of 2009 so far. Just dreamy…. (drool…) Skiier: Aimee McAbery.
Happy New Year!
Check out some more pictures below the fold.
[+] …of 2008! After several warm sunny days, the snowpack has settled a little, and I finally got out into the backcountry for the first time this season. Here’s Jeff Skoloda hauling some ass through the firm powder.
Have a fun News Years Eve! See you next year.
[+] Colorado’s avalanche danger has been high recently, due to a rotten lower snowpack topped by the recent snowfalls of the last few weeks. Today at Silverton Mountain, I snapped this photo of a good sized avalanche crown, most likely triggered by the ski patrol’s bombs. The largest part of the crown here is probably about 5 feet deep, in an obviously wind-loaded part of the slope (roped off of course).
The tender snowpack has drastically curtailed our backcountry possibilities. While last year at this time a thick, stable snowpack had everybody skiing huge lines all over the place, this season hardly anybody has been going out, and the mountains remain mostly unskiied while we wait patiently for more snow and hopefully a thicker, more cohesive snowpack.
This morning my friends Parker and Aimee and I hiked up and snowboarded down Mt. Sneffels, the iconic fourteener above Ridgway and Ouray. Oddly, this was only my second time on this local 14er; the first time was way back in June 2005 when I rode down a different line, also with Parker and Aimee.
[+] Parker McAbery snowboards down Mt. Sneffels.
Windy and unsettled weather up on the pass today. We did a nice long route that I’ve had in mind for the last few months. The mountains in this area form big broad basins above treeline, offering mellow skinning up above 13,000 feet. We splitboarded up one basin and rode down an entirely different one.
[+] Fortunately the wind was to our backs during the whole hike up.
Jeff and I were pleasantly surprised to find some fresh powder this morning up in Yankee Boy Basin. Not a whole lot of powder, but powder nonetheless. The surface below was fairly soft and the new 4-5 inches of snow was pretty well bonded, providing some great cruisey late season pow turns.
[+] Making progress on plowing Camp Bird Road. It’s almost to the spring trailhead now. What a snowpack!
[+] Jeff Skoloda skis some powder with Mt. Sneffels behind.
On Saturday some friends and I skied/snowboarded down Kismet, a 13,694 foot peak neighboring Mt. Sneffels. A solid overnight freeze, bluebird skies, and perfectly smooth snow made for a dreamy high-speed cruiser descent.
[+] Skinning up Kismet, with Gilpin Peak, also 13,694′, in the background.
On Friday I met my friends to hike and ride the Pearl Couloir on Cathedral Peak, a rugged 13,943 ft. mountain in the Elk Mountains near Aspen, Colorado.
[+] Approaching the Pearl Couloir, which is the curving chute above Ann’s head in this photo. Though the weather was cloudy and threatening to storm, and we knew the snow conditions wouldn’t be optimal, we decided to head up the couloir anyways.
[+] Bootpacking up the steep Pearl Couloir.
[+] The last section up to the summit ridge was very steep, requiring some nerve-wracking scrambling up rocks and very steep snow.
Abrams Mountain is the big pyramid-shaped peak that you see towering at the head of the Ouray valley as you drive in from the north. Today we skied/snowboarded a fun 3,000-foot line down this mountain. There’s so much snow up in the high country still; we’ll be skiing into July probably. Here’s some pictures.
On Sunday we skied/rode a great line in the Ragged Mountains of Colorado. This line provided a healthy 4,000+ vertical feet of skiing/snowboarding, from the summit to the road.
Many of these photos can be enlarged by clicking on them.