Wednesday, January 23, 2013
Recon 'round the hills
a bluebird super light powder day and watching the love of your life rip by you pushing glitter into the sky.
In between a day here and a day there though, we continue the struggle to accumulate a base that allows for big time exploration and real skiing in the backcountry (that unless your in the South San Juans that always seem to do well). So with an eye towards later season big lines and in the spirit of just getting out in the alpine, the last two weekends have comprised various homework assignments in our favorite zones, with hopes that our reconnaissance will pay off come spring time.
Berthoud Pass offers up some of the best, biggest and most accessible back, slack or side-whatever you wanna call it-country skiing around and has become one of my favorite places over the years. Following some snow and a super cold front settling in for the week, my good buddy Dane and I left his truck at Current Creek around 8:30am with temps below zero. With an extensive avy through the 90's a few weeks prior, and plenty of signs of instability around, we opted for some lower angle slopes and figured it a day of exercise and exploration. We reached the saddle between Postage Stamp and the Upper 110s and gazed North towards the Second Creek drainage, the new Broome Hut and the top of Mary Jane. It was gorgeous, if not a bit thin. The skiing was tremendously variable down to the Peter Rabbit shack so we moved up the valley to survey the XYZ chutes in hopes of getting a few good turns for our efforts.
Y chute slid twice in two days - a testament to the importance of good decision making around route selection.
Radiobeacon Mtn to the North and gazed at a dozen lines within, well shit, another 2 hours. With some weather rolling in we decided this spot deserved a return with a more alpine start and potentially even a spring season camp out throwdown. Surprisingly we found better and deeper snow here than the day before, connecting some playful terrain at tree line down through a gully and some perfect trees. The weekend was topped off right with a cold can of Maui Coconut Porter and a smooth traffic free ride down Boulder Canyon.
in incredible late spring conditions two years prior, I'd been dreaming of a return.
Slowly but surely the foundation is being laid for better and better turns. Two weekends of searching high and low found a few surprises but mostly that winter is taking its sweet time, a mirror image of last year and a reminder that the blessing of Rocky Mountain cold smoke can be cursed by the fact that we're in what is effectively a high desert environment that's not getting any help from an increasingly fickle jet stream. Here's to hoping the old man turns the dial up in February - and in the meantime I'll be riding my bike.