One Fine June Day

On Wednesday Claudia and I went for a ski in the morning, and a wine hike in the evening!

Mt. Sneffels, Sneffels Range, San Juan Mountains, Colorado, Gilpin Peak, Potosi Peak, June, 14er, panorama

Looking at the south side of the Sneffels Range in early June.  Mt. Sneffels (14,156 ft.) is just about in the center; Gilpin Peak to its left looks bigger from this perspective but only because it’s closer. Potosi Peak is off to the right, and the town of Ouray way down the right side valley.

Ouray, San Juan Mountains, Colorado, panorama, June

Enjoying some wine from a nice vantage point over the town of Ouray (7,792 ft.), San Juan Mountains, Colorado – June.

Pristine Spring Snow

Colorado, San Juan Mountains, Sneffels Range, skiing, Yankee Boy Basin

Skier: Don Moden.  Mt. Sneffels in the background.

Despite a relatively low snowpack this year here in the San Juan Mountains of Colorado, the spring skiing/snowboarding has been fantastic lately — in large part due to the pristine snowpack free of the dust pollution that typically blows into the mountains from the desert southwest every spring. So far this year the dust storms haven’t hit the San Juans (knock on wood), so the snow remains smooth, white, and shreddable!

See lots more photos below from recent lines this last week. Continue reading “Pristine Spring Snow”

Springtime in the San Juans

Mt. Sneffels, Colorado, San Juan Mountains, May, spring, aspens, sunset
Sneffels Spring Sunset : Prints Available

Mt. Sneffels and freshly budded aspens in the Sneffels Range, May.

It’s a particularly beautiful time right now here in southwest Colorado, with the snowy peaks towering above brilliant green meadows and freshly budded aspen groves.

Colorado,San Juan Mountains,Sneffels Range, aspens, spring, sunset
Aspen Evening : Prints Available

Sunset light filters through springtime aspens – May.

Mt. Sneffels, Double RL, ranch, Ridgway, Colorado,San Juan Mountains,Sneffels Range, panorama
Double RL Spring Panorama : Prints Available

Mt. Sneffels and the Sneffels Range tower above the Double RL ranch near Ridgway, Colorado – May.

Larger View

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.

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.