What a better way to spend Halloween than outside skiing with some friends. We had a couple of inches on the Divide from a brief storm the day before and decided to head out to Stevens Gulch in hopes of possibly skiing Lost Rat couloir on Grays. I called up Greg Hansen on Wednesday night to join and at 6AM the next morning I was out the door to meet up with Greg and Jodi Fairbanks. We were luckily able to drive all the way to the summer TH on a few inches of fresh snow and geared up from there. The weather called for a 50% chance of snow for the day coupled with high winds in the 20-24 (40G) range. The 50% chance turned more into 100% as it lightly snowed on us throughout the day. The winds were also howling pretty good but we decided to keep on keeping on until we found something, or got turned around from snowpack conditions. Usually, you can see Lost Rat not far from the TH but with the wind and blowing snow we weren't able to get a complete look at it all day. At the sign near the head of the drainage we decided against Lost Rat and to instead follow the summer trail around to see if we would find any lines off the saddle.
Once we reached the ridge we decided to poke around a bit because there was a fun looking couloir that I could see from the sign that I wanted to find. It wasn't long before I found it and upon seeing the line we knew that this could be a good choice for the day. So out came the shovel and down into the couloir I went to assess the snowpack. It was times like this that I wish I had brought my short rope for a little belay, but I was able to work my way down the wall of the couloir comfortably to dig a few pits.
The hunt continues on in the search of powder and untracked lines. With an original plan of climbing some ice over on Lincoln, nature had a different idea. With the warm spell hitting us pretty hard across the county, it was an easy decision to bail in the ice and spend another day in search of some powder to ride on before it all melts away. So I called up a buddy and grabbed Conan and we were on our way. Ive been noticing the sun has been doing alot of work at melting all this early snow that we have been having and so the options to find some decent snow are starting to slim down. I figured that finding something around the divide would be the best bet and after seeing the snowpack on Torreys NW face, I wanted to find another aspect to test the snow on. So we headed on up the gulch in search of some northeastern faces. Sure enough, we found what we were looking for..
After an ongoing assessment of the snowpack on the climb up and a pit dug at about 11,200ft or so, we found ourselves a decently stable snowpack to ski on! So after about and hour or so and about 1000ft vertical of climbing, we found ourselves on top of one nice looking October line. So after a little safety debriefing we all 3 started on down and enjoyed a ripping nice ride back down the the valley floor! A great zone, and I think I will be back in the morning for a little dawn patrol before work!
Ski season 2013 is upon us here in Colorado as the resorts start opening and the snow starts to fall. This is probably the most snow that I have seen fall for this time of year and hopefully this is just a prelude to another 2010/11 season!
The snow falls and I had to scratch the itch and so after talking to Mike Fitzpatrick we decided to bail on some Lincoln ice climbing and attempt to get an October run down Tuning Fork.
After working my grave yard shift Mike picks me up from DV and off to Bakersville we go. We were able to drive all the way to Grizzly Gulch Rd, romping Fitz's yota through a couple inches of snow, ice, and mud until we were halted by a downed tree. So we grabbed our gear and started skinning to the clearing near 11,200ft. From here we could see our intended route, Tuning Fork.
Super early season snowpack coupled with last weeks wind event leads to what you see here. With that being said, from the looks of it there is still a chance that its ski-able. So on up we continued and planned on the assessing the snowpack as we went. The snow seemed pretty good to start but about half way up the semi-steep slope that guards the couloir we found a good test slope do dig our fist pit. With about a 3.5ft deep pit we found a fairly reactive slab on a weak layer of facets about foot and a half down . We had results like CT15X2 Q2 and ECTP16. So not quite a red flag just yet but we were now especially keeping an eye out. With our ongoing assessments we planned on continuing up to the base of the couloir to evaluate the snow once again. We dug a couple more pits to find an even more unstable snowpack and it was at that point that we decided that unfortunately, skiing this line was not in our best interests for the day. Live to ski another day because hey, its only October!! Cheers to an epic winter!