Two weeks of high pressure and we finally start seeing some snow in the forecast. The sunshine has been great but it is time for the snow to start falling again and for once the meteorologists in the state were right! Local ski resorts around the area were all measuring around the 4-8" range for the night and so waking up to the new snow only solidified our choice to hit a great local line. A few buddies had skied it a few days prior and so this new snow on top would make for a great time to hit it. I called up Greg Hansen and he got Jodi Fairbanks to hop on board and so after I got off work from night audit we were on the trail a little past 8am. This being a nice quick line out the back door we made it round trip in a little under 3 hours. Such a fun run that 1000s of people drive by everyday not even knowing it even exists... and hey, I wouldn't complain if it stayed that way. Although on the way back to the car we ran into some familiar faces who had the same agenda in mind. Great minds think alike I guess! And cheers to the storm of the season as I am writing this it is Thursday and we got a foot overnight with another foot dropping today and another foot forecasted for tonight. All Praise Ullr!! Enjoy the pics and don't forget to check out the edit on Vimeo!
Always a great time riding this line. It ended up skiing with about 6" on top of a harder crust but it skied well enough! With about a 30 meter rap into the couloir, an 8ft wide and about 100ft long choke up top, and a tricky 6ft rock drop into a choke near the bottom, this line is sure to please! Let it snow let it snow...and I will finish it off with a pic from today in the Beavs!
With the high pressure still gracing us with beautiful weather it seemed a great time to get out for a hut trip. The original plan was to do winter camp but after Greg Dumas talked to a buddy in Aspen and they came across a 10th Mountain hut that was open for the night, it seemed logical to go for the hut trip!
Plan was to meet Greg's friend Riley in Aspen and head for a night to the Benedict hut on the east side of the Roaring Fork Valley, located on Smuggler Mountain. Riley had 3 other buddies meeting us up there making for a complete guys' night out in the Benedict hut. It was a beautiful day as we skinned the 6 miles and 2800ft vert in about 3.5 hours. What an awesome setup the Benedict Huts are. Fritz, Fabi, and a most spectacular outhouse all connected by wooden decking. A perfect getaway for large groups. This was my first time spent at a 10th mountain hut, and let me tell you; POSH! There was even a basket with slippers for everybody, haha. This only furthers my will to do more 10th mountain hut trips. Friends and Taggert and definitely on the list. The skiing from these huts wasn't the best but we did enjoy some nice tree skiing off the west face of the hut for a good 500ft vert. All in all, a great quick trip to enjoy and experience one of the 10th mountain huts, which are sure to please. Although the next time i'm back in this valley it will be on the other side!!
And I will leave you with a pic of the highlight of the trip..the shitter
Another beautiful day in the high country and another day to enjoy the winter snow. Plans for the day were to meet up with Greg Dumas and Erich Swartz and to head up to Mt. Victoria. I got to sleep in a bit as we had a late start and didn't hit the trail until around 1030. Somebody must have put out a flyer because it seemed as if everybody was skiing Victoria today. A lot of familiar faces skiing on Vic but who could blame them the skiing had been so great here the past week.
So we started up the skin-track and hit the Victoria/Royal junction fairly quickly. Not but shortly thereafter we stopped for a quick snack/water break and we here a "guys!" from somebody calling from up the track in the trees. We quickly skinned up and found an older gentleman leaning up against a tree. With him being cold, scared, and starting to get disoriented we quickly started to assess the situation. His name was Don and he had been on a day hike from his new home in Frisco. Don had also informed us that he had already called Search and Rescue and that they were on they way up. Shortly his phone rang and it was S&R who were just getting assembled at the TH. We briefed them on the situation and told them we would wait with and help Don until they reached us. After talking to Don more, he told us that he had planned on just hiking the Mt. Royal trail but once he got up here he figured that he would just push on to the summit of Victoria. By the time we had encountered him he was on his way down from the highest point he had reached, which ended up being about 500 yards from the summit. At age 66 he had blood all over his coat from a small superficial cut on his wrist that he got from sliding down the mountain on his ass, his hands were two blocks of ice because all he had were old frozen wool gloves, and he was starting to shake pretty bad. He had a fanny pack with food/water, but he had but only drank a few sips of water throughout the day and only a bite or two of a granola bar. Dehydrated, hungry, and cold we proceeded by cleaning up his cut and giving him plenty of food, water, and extra layers while at the same time doing our secondary assessment of him and the situation. We also ended up walking him down the track about 25 yards to some sunshine and it was there we waited for S&R. He told us that he had been following the skin-track up and that he ran into a skier that told him to "keep going, your not far from the summit". That gave him motivation to push onward, motivation that he didn't need. Not at his age with the gear that he had. He said that after not making it to the summit he was getting cold and decided to head down. In cotton socks and hiking boots Don was apparently not going to have the easiest of times as he said he was post-holing all over. He then switched to sliding on his ass down the slope. We ended up seeing his tracks after we continued on and you could see his butt sliding track veering off and on the skin-track through the trees. We initially came into contact with Don a little past 1oclock. With the day winding down quickly, he was lucky to have ended up on the skin-track before he decided to stop and call S&R. If not then he could very easily have veered off-trail and had one hell of a different story coming out of this. Anyways, it wasn't too long afterward that Fritz and Frank come up the skin-track on their lap 2. Fritz ended up having an awesome mummy style e-blanket that he so kindly pulled out of his pack and we wrapped Don up. On a side-note, that blanket was awesome and I kind of want one now! Anyways, Fritz and Frank stayed with us for a little bit and then continued on as they knew things were under control. As Don started to warm up and regain his composure you could see the relief on his face and he was ever so grateful that we ran into him. It was about an hour and a half from our first contact with Don that the S&R guys made it up to us. We briefed them on the situation, helped them strap some snowshoes on Don, said our goodbyes and let them take it from there.
Things could have ended up a lot differently for Don, but we were all glad to have ran into him and that we were able to help!!
We ended up summiting Victoria a little after 4pm and enjoyed some great turns back into town!
With high pressure still gracing us with this beautiful weather Frank Bowman, Scott Winn and I decided to head up to Peru Creek for some exploration. Hopes were to find some nice North facing trees to ski. A brisk -6 degree skin to start the morning quickly warmed as the sun started to crest into the valley floor. Although avalanche activity is starting to slightly dwindle we all knew that the dragon is still lurking and that we wanted to stay away from open slopes and/or anything tipping the 35 degree mark. We got some good looks at Cadillac and Corkscrew on the way up as well as the rest of the many avy paths that drop North off Tip Top and Morgan Peaks. We could see a few old slides from last week but didn't notice any recent activity.
As we found ourselves at the fork of Chihuahua Gulch we were faced with a decision. We all agreed that from what we could see up drainage it did not look like we had too many options to ski. The wind has been doing some heavy scouring up at higher elevations. One option would be to skin up towards Torreys/Grays and try and find something to ski. We then saw a nice looking set of trees off of Morgan Peak between Warden Gulch and the Corkscrew path. Briefly we discussed our ascent route and plan of attack and were then on our way up. On the skin up we encountered huge surface hoar crystals from all the cold and clear nights we have been having. Although North facing, we did find some fairly consolidated and supportable snow for the majority of the skin up. In one section we found ourselves bordering the 35 degree mark but after about 20min of discussion we pushed on and weaseled our way up through the semi-open treed area. During our ascent we saw no real signs of instability. We dug a hand pit about mid way up our route to verify our thoughts and we were supremely stoked on what we had found. Then at about 11,300ft we hit snowline coupled with sustained 15-20mph winds. Its amazing what the wind does to snow in this state! After a quick snack we booted up the ridge to a highpoint about 500ft or so from the true summit. Beautiful views all around of the Gore, Torreys/Grays, and Peru Creek drainage. Being up in the alpine on days like this are hard to beat!
The goal is not to ski the mountains, nor to climb the mountains. Rather the goal is to be admitted by the mountain, to become one, to coexist. In those moments you will find peace, you will find happiness. In those moments you will find your reward.
After a week or so of major snow and wind from a huge storm cycle we have now shifted into a high pressure trend. Let the bluebird skies and nipple deep snow ensue. A very uneasy snowpack means that low angle powder shots and tree skiing was to be the plan for awhile now. Nothing wrong with that! After not being able to see anything the past week due to poor visibility it was amazing to see the natural avalanche cycle that was produced from the last storm. Driving just down Ten Mile Canyon we must have saw 10-15 slides just within a few miles. Now is not the time to push hard and ride big lines. There will be a time for that in a few months. With that said, it doesn't mean that you still can't get out in the alpine and enjoy what mother nature has blessed us with. The agenda for the day was to meet up with Greg Dumas and Steve Delaney and head up to Mayflower Gulch. Hopes were to find some fine low angle turns off of the north face of Gold Hill and it was a beautiful day as we skinned up to Boston Mine area and did about 3 laps from there in perfect powder conditions. The views in this cirque from Atlantic to Fletcher make for a stunning backdrop. We also got a good look at some great lines to ski once they fill in. Drift Peak is definitely one that is high on the list.