So with all the snow that we’ve been getting, this spring has posed some problems with getting up high. It’s all about the weather windows in my opinion, and the weather windows have been a little hard to come by. I have an aversion to getting up high and then being caught in clouds, I guess I’ve just dealt with too much electricity in my time. Fresh back from sea level after a Mother’s Day visit to Boston I met up with Gary and Ben for another trip up Lincoln. Gary did Bross on Friday and saw that the Russian Couloir was actually in. Gotta get it while we can. I’ve been trying to get this line done for years. I think I’ve been up Lincoln 10 times already. Every time I go I find the middle of the Russian melted out. I suspect that there are thermal vents or something in the middle of the chute. It was really nice to have recent beta that the line was actually in.
So we headed to the Moose Creek corner and parked the truck. It’s longer but the piece of mind is so worth it. It’s hard to enjoy the day when you’re worried about your vehicle getting towed over at the Quartzville trailhead. The temps overnight weren’t that low but the skies were clear and it seemed like there was enough of a freeze to be safe so we pushed upward. We made decent time to the summit and I was so stoked to the line was actually in. After some setting up we were ready and had such a great ski.
The snow is still skiing like wet pow and will be a lot better in about a week but everything stayed put and it was great skiing one of the Mosquito’s finest lines. Always a pleasure Gary and it was good to get out with you Ben. Enjoy the pics.
So after Wetterhorn I fueled up the body at the Packer Saloon and headed north to meet up with Allison and Gary. I killed some time at Mt Princeton Hot Springs. It felt nice to get some hot water. Then I headed to Salida and had some dinner. I wrote a TR for Wetterhorn and then headed over to meet up with them for the drive to the trailhead.
It was a chilly night and the alarm came way too early. We made decent time up the mountain in the morning and the weather arrived right on time and as forecast. But thankfully we were only a few hundred feet from the summit when it came in. We changed over quickly and skied right off the summit. The snow was perfect corn and was so much fun to ski. Congrats on pushing thru your demons Allison, it’s tough climbing 14ers and it’s even tougher when you have bronchitis. Really impressed with your performance yesterday.
We had one short 50′ down climb to get into the right wing. I think we ended up getting in about 3700′ of ski vertical. 4500′ total vert for the day. Great getting out with you two as always. Enjoy the pics
Well I over slept my alarm the day before and woke up when my truck got really warm. I was on La Sal Pass trying to get Tuk done but when I was driving out I noticed it didn’t have enough snow for a ski. So I guess it all worked out OK in the end. I headed to Telluride to try and get some business done and then drove down to Lizard Head Pass. My original thinking was to ski Mt Wilson but once I got down there the looks of things kind of took the wind out of my sails. There was so much dirty snow and I was looking at a really long walk in shoes. Mt Wilson will have to wait for another year. I decided to head up to Lake City and see if I could get up to the Matterhorn Creek Trailhead and give Wetterhorn a go.
I was able to drive to the lower trailhead and I camped there. I got a start bright and early at 7:15. I made decent time up into the basin and headed for the right side to ascend what looked like the purest snow. It got really steep near the top, I’d say about 55 degrees. It also started getting hollow. Not the best feeling on something so steep. My designs for a summit were dashed. I’ve already been up there a few times so I wasn’t all that worried about it. I headed over to the corner where the gully to the top is and changed over fast. I ended up skiing the viewers left line ast that had seen more traffic and I was hoping would be less hollow. I was right and got some really sweet corn turns. The ski out was great and I ended up getting in 3000′ of vert, well almost my altimeter said 2970′. Such a fun trip in the hills. Total vert for the day was 3700′
I’ve really needed some quality time with the mountains lately. Looking forward to getting some more in over the next few days
So with the impending storm I had a decision to make. Ski more powder or do a little road trip and ski some peaks. I’ve been jonesing for some big days lately and have really been wanting to get up high. This is the start of 8 free days before I head to Boston for a little while. Looking at the weather it seemed like the southern Wasatch was going to get missed by the storm so I packed up the truck and headed west. Mt Nebo is the highest peak in the Wasatch and towers about 7000′ vertical above the valley floor. I took the lazy way and went up the Pole Creek Jeep Road as high as I could before being blocked by snow.
This being a northwest line I decided to take my time starting out. I left the truck at 7:30 and ended up booting the whole way. Glad I had that topo software on my phone as the gps feature really helped in finding the way through the dense timber above the road. Once in Pole Creek Basin I was able to find the way easily enough. Utah has big mountains and it was thrown off by the scale of things. Once in the chute I was watching the approaching weather and where I was heading. Near the top things got very steep. It took some time exiting the couloir over the cornice. When I looked up the weather was on me. Thinking that there would be electricity I decided to bail on the summit , 200′ vert short but I got my line at least. I also felt that with no easy way off the peak the best option was to not leave my line and exit.
With the storm clouds came a rapid drop in temps and the snow got very firm quickly. It was intense skiing the upper section in such firm conditions. But hey you have to be able to ski anything right? About half way down the couloir the weather cleared for a little while. Ten minutes later it was nuking snow. The skiing wasn’t great but to me this was a great day. 5000′+ of vertical and challenging skiing all alone. These days narrow the focus. Enjoy the pics
This has been a tough week. Five of our brethren were lost in an avalanche here in Colorado. According to reports I read, this was the largest toll of skiers and/or snowboarders ever in the state in one single accident and was the deadliest since the Twin Lakes incident back in 1962. As a backcountry user this is really tough for me to process and I figured I’d share some thoughts on the slide. I also think that it might be good for me to discuss my processes for route selection in this difficult snow year.
The evening before the slide we drove up to Dillon to go to the Rocky Mountain High Benefit for CAIC at the Dillon Dam Brewery. Along the way I saw the results of the Straight Creek slides. It just seems like everything is going huge on the NE-N aspects at treeline and above. Though smaller than the Butler slide a few weeks ago, the traits of these slides were similar. I also pointed out the road slide west along the pass road from Sheep Creek Corner. There was a slide the previous Tuesday here that had the same hard slab traits with results to the ground. We discussed ideas for what to ski and confirmed our previous plan to stay low. Anything up high would be too dangerous at least NE-N and with the weather looking the way it was SW-E would be getting cooked by warmer temps from sun exposure.
We went to the benefit at the Brewery and I donated some books to the cause. I met Joe and briefly discussed some ideas for future projects that we have going. Then it was time for dinner and beers while watching some sweet Jeremy Jones movies. After the raffles we chatted some more and then headed home to get a good night’s sleep for the Coin Slot on Mt Royal.
Our group met up at 8am and headed up Mt Royal. It was a little warm on the sunny aspects but once we got into the Coin Slot the snow was nice and cold. The skiing was really good with about a foot of new. Bonding was great and the wind hadn’t had its way with it yet. After skiing that line we headed over to “Little Chief Mountain” for some more. The snow was a little heavier but that was expected at this low an elevation. Everything was staying put on the low angled slopes.
When we got back all hell broke loose as we got calls about a massive accident. After a few messages to make sure friends weren’t involved, I made a call to mutual friends of Joe’s and found out what happened. He seemed like such a great person. He had this excitement that reminded me of myself and my other friends with the fire for the mountains. He will be missed by many it seems, as will his partners. May they Rest in Peace.
For the last few weeks, since we got back from Fruita really, I’ve been itching to get out into the alpine for some peak bagging. It burned seeing all the trip reports from friends getting after it. My days off however weren’t jibing with the good weather days so I had to keep things more mellow. On the few days that I did have good weather there was just too much new snow to start getting up high safely. With about four feet of new snow since the last warm-up things are looking very sketchy for a little while, especially in the Front Range and Summit zones where the deep persistent hard slabs seem to be more of an issue. Yesterday as we were ascending Coin Slot again, I couldn’t stop worrying about this upcoming weekend. There’s going to be a lot of water freed up by the rising temps. This will lubricate the bonds between the new snow and the old melt freeze layer. I really hope that people keep their desires in check. Melt-freeze in my mind will need to work its magic for a little while before things actually do get safer. I see a fairly large natural cycle coming our way with the impending warm up. These slides will be very large in relation to path. I think it’s important to let this happen before venturing into higher terrain.
I’m looking forward to getting some peaks done this spring but will do my best to temper my desires with the reality of what’s going on in the snowpack. For the time being I plan on keeping my peak attempts to the southern mountains of Colorado where the persistent slab issues seem to be less dramatic. I hope there aren’t any more incidents this year and that those of you that read this hear what the mountains are telling us.
Safe travels this spring and please heed the warning that are so present before us.
The day started at 8am at the Frisco trailhead. We were a bit bleary after having a ton of fun at the Rocky Mountain High CAIC Benefit at the Dam Brewery the night before. We started up Mt Royal and took it nice and easy. Just as we were heading out of the lot we ran into Elliot and he mentioned that his group of 5 was going to be behind us. Our group of 4 consisted of me, Gary Fondl, Nate Purcell and Allison Seymour. Once at the saddle we skied down to the rappel anchor. It’s hard to call it skiing though as it was mostly walking downhill with skis on to avoid hitting all the rocks. We set up the rope and I lowered Allison. She skied it with a slightly broken arm and we though it best that she not rappel. Xrays coming on Monday, but she probably has a hairline fracture from a week ago.
The chute is nice and tight it’s about 5′ wide at the narrowest and 15′ wide at the widest. It was soft but the snow was a bit on the heavy side. We yo-yo’d laps and shot pics. It’s a super sweet steep line that maxes out around 50°. So much fun getting into some gnar. Allison with broken arm and all skied it like a champ and Nate and Gary rocked it as well.
Afterward we headed up Little Chief for a bit more pow. The snow was super soggy but with the low angle it wasn’t a problem. It ended up skiing very nicely. Super surfy.
When we got done we headed back into town to load up the video and pics to Nate’s computer. Then the call came about the Loveland Pass avy. 5 fatalities in one accident is so amazingly tragic. Just the night before we were hanging with Joe and the Jones Snowboard crew at their benefit. Such great energy from these people. Fallen brethren may you R.I.P.
It’s tough to feel great about a great day when it’s followed up but so much carnage. Please be safe out there. The snowpack this year is very difficult to read. One huge problem with the lurking hardslabs is that in order to get into a place to see if they even exist you have to put yourself on them and risk death in doing so. I personally am planning on staying away from the steeps above treeline and at treeline SE-E-NE-N aspects until a significant warming/freezing takes place. There have been so many enormous avalanches this season. If you’re planning on getting out, be sure to think VERY carefully about what slopes you’re getting on. This is a little bit like a chess match but if you lose you die.
Enjoy the pictures
Got up for some decent snow today. It was pretty fun to ski some soft right-side up snow for a change. Nice light density at the top made for awesome turns.
Great to see you Brian. Looking forward to getting some big lines done soon.
This is a great app to take with you on your trips in the backcountry. I always bring my iPhone with me as a safety precaution. Since I already have my phone apps such as this come along too. There are certain benefits to this app that rule over paper maps. Paper maps also come with me on my trips as batteries do fail and being in the backcountry without a map is truly a bad idea.
You can find this app and screenshots of it’s features in action at topomapsapp.com
One of the great features of this map is the integration of the gps feature into the topo map. You can get an instant position of where you are in relation to your surroundings. This is a great feature for not only route finding but for triangulation practice as you can check your results with the gps feature.
Some planning is needed for using this app however. You will need to load your maps prior to your trip to the backcountry. You’ll need a decent 3G or wifi connection to load the full resolution maps. They take a little while to load. but these fully scalable maps are great.
Some of the other features I like are the mileage circles and the waypoint placements. You can also get coordinates of locations for say trailhead info. You can also look at multiple maps together without breaks in the mapping info.
I haven’t even begun to dig deeply into this app and keep finding new interesting features to make trips that much more fun. This app is highly recommended
These gloves rock. They remind me of those old Reusch gloves that were so bomber. However these gloves have some features that take it to the next level. The feature I love the most is the soft fabric on the thumb perfect for nose wipes in the cold. They also have a removable liner for spring tours or just for helping the gloves dry out faster after a day on the trail. The knuckles are padded and almost the entire glove is leather. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve hit trees with my hands and had them protected by the padded fingers. Gripping rocks on the ascent is great.
The gloves are generally warm except on the coldest of days. They might be too much glove for the spring season though.
I highly recommend this glove. At SIA in January I noticed that BD made some modifications to this glove for next year. They seemed to be mostly cosmetic, so I think this review will still stand.