Mount Ouray 13,960′ – Devil’s Armchair – 3/21/2017 – Making The Best Of It

We met at the campsite. I shot the stars and we struggled with wet wood. We chatted about bears waking up from their winter slumber. Spring had sprung a little early. What a strange season we’ve had this year. First it started late, then we had January; it was beyond amazing. Then a dry spell, later than normal. Then a little snow and a return to dry conditions or a thaw. There was rain this winter. And now it feels like late April. Well hopefully the winter conditions will return.

From the winter closure we walked the road for about .6 miles to Grays Creek. Then the fun began, bushwhacking is fun right? We fought our way to the basin below the Devil’s Armchair and made for the East Ridge of Ouray, hoping it would speed our ascent. Then the clouds rolled in and we lost our snow softener. Ally bonked hard on the ridge. Proud of her for making it to the summit.

We dropped in to some of the firmest conditions I’ve ever skied that weren’t in New England. At the entrance to the direct line we found the same hard snow. Worried about Ally’s composure I decided that we should ski the south facing options to skiers left, hoping the snow would be softer and offer better purchase. After some spicy down climbing along the Northeast Ridge over some big exposure we got into position over a closeout chute and got back to skiing. The face was soft enough and we skied purposeful turns to the exit couloir. It was fun mixing it up and making the best of not so great conditions. Lower down, in the trees the snow was heavy mank and the trees were tight, most of the time.

Thanks for toughing it out Ally. Here’s to better lines to come. The pizza at Amica’s made it all worth it.

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