A Winter Night above Ouray

Bridge of Heaven,Colorado,San Juan Mountains,camping,tent, Ouray, February

Eager to test drive a newly purchased camera, I headed out yesterday for a night of winter camping up on the “lower” Bridge of Heaven overlooking the town of Ouray, Colorado. I found a ridiculous spot to pitch my tent, right on the point of a precipitous rock outcropping! This airy perch provided a spectacular scene for tent photos, as well as an island of dry rock amongst the snow to cook and relax in ease.

Bridge of Heaven, San Juan Mountains, Colorado, Ouray, February, night, stars, tent, camping

The evening was calm and quiet at first, but once I got into my sleeping bag the wind whipped up and shook the tent all night long. Though I knew the tent was solidly anchored down with rocks, the unnerving ruckus kept me awake most of night anyways.

Bridge of Heaven,Colorado,San Juan Mountains,camping,tent, Ouray, February, sunrise

The morning brought a colorful sunrise along with a quick morning snowstorm before I packed up and headed back down. Thanks to Steven from Texas whose infectious enthusiasm to get out for some winter hiking ended up inspiring me to get out and make the trip!

February Powder Days

Colorado, Red Mountain Pass, San Juan Mountains, skiing, February, powder
Skier: Dan Chehayl

Are you sick of all the powder shots I keep posting here? I hope not, because here’s a dozen more! With a low workload recently – along with loads of fresh powder in the mountains – I’ve managed to get out on the splitboard/snowboard for 6 of the last 7 days, scoring some of the best turns of the winter so far! LOTS more pow shots below… Continue reading “February Powder Days”

Snow and Stars in Ouray

Ouray, Colorado, San Juan Mountains, stars, panorama, winter
Ouray Starry Night : Prints Available

The lights of Ouray, Colorado illuminate the snow-smothered mountains of the Uncompahgre Gorge, as the stars and Milky Way shine overhead after a heavy winter snowstorm – February.

After nearly two weeks of dry sunny weather, a hefty storm rolled through Colorado on Thursday dumping over two feet of snow in the mountains! I enjoyed a stormy powder day snowboarding at Telluride on Friday, and look forward to getting out for some more powder turns soon. It seems as if the typical January dry spell is over, with several more storms are forecasted for next week!

Last night the storm broke and skies cleared, so at 10:30 I bundled up and drove a little ways up the road above Ouray to shoot some photos of the stars over the snow-smothered town. It was quite a magical scene, with perfectly calm, silent weather and everything sparkling with frosty crystals under the brilliant stars.

Powderfest at the Fowler/Hilliard Hut

Colorado, Fowler Hilliard Hut, Gore Range, January, moonlight, hut. 10th Mountain Division
Fowler Hilliard Moonlight : Prints Available

A full moon shines through breaking snowstorm clouds at the Fowler/Hilliard Hut in the southern Gore Range, Colorado – January.

It had been snowing for nearly three weeks straight in the northern mountains of Colorado. With the northwest storm flow forecasted to dump a few more heavy punches before finally clearing out, last week I checked the 10th Mtn. Division Huts schedule and to my delight I was able to make last minute reservations for three nights at the Fowler/Hilliard Hut, located on a snowy ridge in the mountains north of Leadville, south of Vail. Claudia and I spent a few nights there last spring and had a great time skiing the endless ski terrain around the hut. This trip was shaping up to be even snowier! Continue reading “Powderfest at the Fowler/Hilliard Hut”

Stormy Sunday

Skinning in a snowstorm

Over the last few days a series of northwesterly storms has pushed through Colorado and into northern San Juans. It would have been easy to miss this round, since the weather forecasts underestimated the snowfall amounts and it didn’t snow much at all down in town. But snow it did in the high country, dumping in excess of 20″ of fresh powder on the northern side of the range!

Colorado,San Juan Mountains, skiing
Skier: Don Moden

Yesterday Claudia and I plowed a trail through the deep powder up one of my favored mountains, but after all that work we only had time for one run. So this morning Jeff, Don, and I headed into the howling storm to take advantage of the skin track and lap a couple more lines.

Colorado,San Juan Mountains, skiing
Skier: Jeff Skoloda

Incredible snow… All that fresh powder was pretty reactive, so we stuck to the trees where it’s a bit safer.

Colorado,San Juan Mountains, skiing
Skier: Don Moden

Remember to always check the avalanche report before heading into the backcountry!

Powder Foraging

Backcountry skiing in the San Juans, Colorado
Skier: Adam Fisher

During the last several weeks the snowstorms that have been flowing though northern Colorado have barely made it down south to the San Juans, with a few inches here and there, all mixed up by strong winds. The high country is wind blasted, but there’s some good powder stashes to be found in the trees on northern aspects.

Backcountry skiing in the San Juans, Colorado

Adam and Parker and I managed to find some good fluffy lines to ride today!

Backcountry skiing in the San Juans, Colorado

Blue Lakes Hut

aspen, moonlight, Sneffels Range, San Juan Mountains, Colorado, December
Winter's Breath : Prints Available

On Wednesday Claudia and I skied along snow-covered County Road 7 to the Blue Lakes Hut, one of five huts in the San Juan Huts system here in southwest Colorado. These small but cozy huts provide great winter base camps for exploring the remote northern side of the Sneffels Range.

sunrise at the Blue Lakes Hut
December sunrise at the Blue Lakes Hut, as seen from the outhouse.

The Blue Lakes Hut is situated in small meadow a short distance from the summer Blue Lakes trailhead. From the hut you have a foreshortened view of the summit of Mt. Sneffels (14,150 ft). There are south facing windows that let a good amount of light in, and a wood stove that cranks so hot that we had to open the windows at night!

skiing in front of Mt. Sneffels
Skinning with a great view of Mt. Sneffels.

We had hoped for some decent tree skiing on the slopes above the hut, but unfortunately all we found was impenetrable forest and flat meadows. After two hours of breaking trail through the powder on switchbacking old forest roads with no skiable terrain in sight, we pulled the plug and basically skied back down our skin track with the occasional bushwhack mixed in. A bit frustrating, but once we were back in the hut a hot cup of gluhwein made everything ok! I think there are some worthy ski descents in the area up in the higher peaks, but they are far from the hut and would require a full day tour and stable avalanche conditions.

More Powder Shots

skiing, San Juan Mountains, Colorado, December
Skier: Jeff Skoloda

Here’s some photos from the last several days of playing in the San Juan powder. So nice lately…

skiing, San Juan Mountains, Colorado, December
Skier: Claudia Brauer

Claudia is fast becoming a powder fiend, stepping it up a notch or two every time we go out!

sundog, Red Mountain, San Juan Mountains, Colorado, December

A sundog over Red Mountain #3, December.

The storm broke on Monday morning with a glorious sundog to greet the blue skies. This was the first sundog I’ve seen in Colorado! Always an awesome sight…

skiing, San Juan Mountains, Colorado, December
Skier: Chris Cover
skiing, San Juan Mountains, Colorado, December
Skier: Chris Cover
skiing, San Juan Mountains, Colorado, December
Skier: Chris Cover

Remember: don’t forget to study the avy report before heading into the backcountry!