First Turns of Winter

Frosty Aspens

Last night I pulled my splitboard out of the attic in anticipation of the first turns of winter. As we drove up the pass this morning everything was covered in frosty snow… what a glorious morning! I had to pull over and take a snapshot of the frosty aspens.

Hiking Up in the Snow

The snowpack looking a bit dubious on this southern slope on the way up.

First Turns of the Winter

Fortunately the north facing slopes were filled in with powder and looking good! Here’s Jeff getting in the groove. We just did one line but damn it was satisfying! I’m hoping for a good winter this season here in the San Juans after the last two crappy ones…

5 thoughts on “First Turns of Winter

  1. You obviously check the avy reports before you do this, but this looks like major avy territory. Do you check the actual snow up there before dropping into something like this? Not familiar with the territory and have never been in the backcountry, just curious how you know it’s okay to charge on that particular run?

    1. Hi Ed, yes avalanche danger is always a major concern. I always study the CAIC avalanche report first, which is typically very accurate. When I go up there for multiple days in a row between storms or weather events I have a pretty good idea of what to expect generally; otherwise if there’s any doubt I like to dig a snow pit to analyze the sliding layers and avy potential.

      On this particular day, which was our first day of the season, there was actually not a lot of snow, so it was a pretty simple snowpack to analyze with no sliding layers and not much avy potential. Later in the winter like now the snowpack is more complicated and you’ve really got to make a smart judgement call.

      I would certainly recommend to anyone venturing into the backcountry to take an introductory avalanche awareness course to learn about all this.

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