Sneffels Ski

Colorado,Yankee Boy, Gilpin Peak,San Juan Mountains,Sneffels Range

What better way to cap off a memorable winter season in the San Juans than a spring descent of Mt. Sneffels, the monarch of the Sneffels Range.

Skinning up Yankee Boy Basin

My partner for the day was Karl, our new friend from Germany who we randomly met and skied with the previous day. We left the truck at sunrise in order to get up and down the mountain before the hot May sun nuked the snow.

Colorado,Mt. Sneffels,San Juan Mountains,Sneffels Range, Lavendar Col
Climbing up the Lavendar Col on Mt. Sneffels – May.
Colorado,Mt. Sneffels,San Juan Mountains,Sneffels Range
Hiking to the summit of Mt. Sneffels (14,150 ft.) – May.

What a glorious day to be up high in the San Juans! There’s no denying by now that Mt. Sneffels has to be one of my favorite peaks in the world.

Colorado,Mt. Sneffels,San Juan Mountains,Sneffels Range, skiing
Karl Trellinger skis down Mt. Sneffels.

And there’s no better way to enjoy a favorite peak than to ski/snowboard down it!

Colorado,Mt. Sneffels,San Juan Mountains,Sneffels Range, skiing
Skier: Karl Trellinger.

Still Going

Hiking by Teakettle Mountain

At the end of May we’re still enjoying great snow up here in the San Juan Mountains of Colorado! Here’s a few shots from the weekend.

snowboarding,Colorado,San Juan Mountains,Sneffels Range
Rider: Mikel Goicoechea.

Mikel made the journey down from Boulder and as usual he brought his good snow karma with him. We repeated a big route in the Sneffels Range that Charlie and I rode a few weeks back.

May powder

Showers on Saturday night dropped about 7 inches of snow in the high country. Sure, we’ll take some powder turns in late May, why not?

snowboarding, Colorado,Mt. Sneffels,San Juan Mountains,Sneffels Range

Snowboarder: Mikel Goicoechea.  Mt. Sneffels in the background.  May.

skiing, Colorado,San Juan Mountains,Sneffels Range
Skier: Claudia Brauer.

Day 7

Cirque Mountain,Colorado,San Juan Mountains,Sneffels Range, skiing
Skinning up high in the Sneffels Range – April.

Today marks my (and also Charlie’s) seventh day out splitboarding in a row. This last week since the big dump has been one of the best continuous stretches of snowboarding that I can remember… and it’s not over yet!

Cirque Mountain,Colorado,San Juan Mountains,Sneffels Range, Teakettle, Potosi Peak, April

Arriving at the summit!

Today we climbed and rode down another big 13er in the neighborhood.

Cirque Mountain,Colorado,San Juan Mountains,Sneffels Range, snowboarding
Charlie Bartosek riding amongst the giants.

P e r f e c t  snow conditions today – old powder in the transition to pure spring corn snow, soft and smooth for high speed carving.

Backcountry snowboarding in the San Juans, Colorado

Riding Gilpin

Colorado,Gilpin Peak,San Juan Mountains,Sneffels Range, skiing
Skinning towards our destination: Gilpin Peak (13,694 ft.), San Juan Mountains, Colorado.

During yesterday’s splitboard tour, I could see that the big north couloir of Gilpin Peak was in the best shape I’ve ever seen it, full of smooth snow without any chunder. This line has been on my wish list for years, and Charlie, Dan, and I decided to come back today to track it up.

Colorado,Gilpin Peak,San Juan Mountains,Sneffels Range

Colorado,Gilpin Peak,San Juan Mountains,Sneffels Range, snowboarding
Rider: Charlie Bartosek. Backdrop: Mt. Sneffels.
Colorado,Gilpin Peak,San Juan Mountains,Sneffels Range, skiing
Skier: Dan Chehayl. Backdrop: Teakettle and Potosi.
Colorado, San Juan Mountains, Sneffels Range, skiing
Skier: Claudia Brauer.

San Juan Surfing

Colorado,Red Mountain Pass,San Juan Mountains, snowboarding
Alex Hotze carves a wave in the San Juan Mountains, Colorado.

After the 16″ dump over the weekend, it has just kept on snowing here in the San Juans, for a total of 30″ of fresh snow by Wednesday! Of course I’ve been out every day shredding every inch of the powder. Spring powder fever has a similar intensity as early season powder fever, except that this time of year the stoke comes from knowing that it’s all going to melt soon.

Colorado,Red Mountain Pass,San Juan Mountains, snowboarding
Alex Hotze slaps a cornice in the San Juans – April.

We lapped this perfect, long heel-side snow wave several times; I almost felt like I was in Costa Rica.

Backcountry skiing in the San Juans, Colorado
Claudia’s digging the wave too!

Skinning in a blizzard

Is it April? Or February? I can’t tell the difference.

Backcountry snowboarding in the San Juans, Colorado

Carving Too Hard

This Week of Skiing in the San Juans

Backcountry skiing in the San Juans, Colorado

Here’s a few photos from three ski days this last week here in the San Juan Mountains, Colorado.

Backcountry skiing in the San Juans, Colorado
Skier: Claudia Brauer

The spring skiing has been great lately, with smooth corn snow and some of the higher pass roads getting plowed out enabling easy access into the high country.

Backcountry skiing in the San Juans, Colorado

Matt and I climbed and skied/snowboarded a huge face that I’ve been eyeing for years.

Backcountry skiing in the San Juans, Colorado
Skier: Matt Wade
Backcountry skiing in the San Juans, Colorado
Skier: Matt Wade

Backcountry skiing in the San Juans, Colorado

Then a potent storm rolled into the mountains this weekend, dumping over 16 inches of fluffy powder. Woohoo!

Backcountry skiing in the San Juans, Colorado
Skier: Dan Chehayl

Possibly the deepest snow of the year so far… It felt less like skiing and more like swimming through clouds. Too many face shots to even see where we were going!

Backcountry skiing in the San Juans, Colorado
Dan busts through a powder pillow.

This winter refresh should provide another week or two of excellent skiing and splitboarding… if my legs can keep up!

Friday Corn

Colorado,Red Mountain Pass,San Juan Mountains,skiing
Skier: Claudia Brauer.

On Friday, Claudia and I got back out into the mountains to enjoy some more turns. Monday’s foot of fresh snow had baked down to about 3-4 inches of old powder corn snow (For those who don’t backcountry ski, “corn” snow is snow that goes through multiple melt/freeze cycles, resulting in a firm but smooth snow surface that softens up nicely by around noon on a sunny spring day. In my opinion, it’s the next best thing to fresh powder!)

Colorado,Red Mountain Pass,San Juan Mountains,skiing
Skier: Claudia Brauer.

I took Claudia up to one of the taller peaks around. It was Claudia’s first time skiing corn snow, and she rocked it!

Backcountry spring skiing in the San Juans, Colorado

We skied/snowboarded from the summit down a beautiful long untracked line, then skinned back up to the high ridge and scored a nice long bonus descent down the front side. What a day!

Monday Powder

Colorado,Red Mountain Pass,San Juan Mountains, snowy, trees

As we drove home from our recent desert road trip, the rain we passed through in Utah had turned into snow when we reached the San Juans in Colorado. Despite my desire to rest after our big trip, I knew I couldn’t pass up a beautiful spring powder day!

Colorado,Red Mountain Pass,San Juan Mountains

A fresh foot of powder blanketed the San Juans on Monday. What a great welcome home to the mountains – just like last time we returned from the desert!

Colorado,Red Mountain Pass,San Juan Mountains, skiing
Steven skis a big powder field.

The snowpack was sturdy after the previous warm days melted the various snow layers, followed by cold nights that froze it solid again. The new snow came in wet, bonded well to the surface, and then became blower powder on top. Perfect conditions for riding some bigger, longer lines up in the high peaks!

Colorado,Red Mountain Pass,San Juan Mountains, Dan Chehayl, skiing

Skier: Dan Chehayl.

We skied/snowboarded through this big gully I’ve had my eye on for years, followed by a second lap up high again.

Colorado,Red Mountain Pass,San Juan Mountains, wind, snow