With heaps of snow and hardly anybody out skiing these days, the “low hanging fruit” abounds in the San Juans. Today we went up the same peak I’ve gone up 2 of the last 3 days. Normally these are the routes we do in the wintertime, so it feels a bit novel to be riding these in late May!
Ninja skier: Paul McElrea.
Perfect cream cheese powder, great for terminal velocity carving.
As you drive into the town of Ouray on Main Street, you can often see a gleaming snowcapped peak looming up the valley to the southwest – this is United States Mountain. Today we hiked up there and scored a great ski/snowboard descent!
Skier: Sean Hart.
A view of the line we hiked and skied/snowboarded. There’s a large couloir hidden amongst the top cliffs, which we ascended and descended.
After a series of flights and frantic airport connections on Sunday, I finally made it back home to Ouray from Europe! It was quite a shock to come from full-on spring in Germany and Switzerland to full-on dumping snow in Ouray! It seems that spring is in no hurry around here; the trees are still bare and there looks to be quite a bit of snow in the higher peaks. The photo above was taken on Monday morning after about 8 inches of fresh snow blanketed the town overnight.
The recent snow melted in a few days and today I went on a hike up one of the drier trails in the Amphitheater above town.
It’s always interesting to return to the San Juans after visiting foreign mountains. I see with fresh eyes and appreciate the subtle characteristics that make these mountains unique. For example, while the mountains around Ouray aren’t quite as large, dramatic, and glaciated as the Swiss Alps around Engelberg, these mountains are more complex, with a much broader network of connected valleys and branching terrain.
Anyhow, it feels great to be back, and I look forward to a fun summer – especially when Claudia gets here in July! But first, a couple months of springtime adventures on the snow!