The End of a Season… or is it?
I wrote this post three months ago, but didn’t have time/pictures to post until now. However, now that I’m on a blogroll, I’ve been shamed into ignoring all my grad school work and making this a top priority. Enjoy!
Well, the ski season has wrapped up, at least for the time being. Now that I’ve just watched Teton Gravity Research’s trailer for their new ski film, out this coming fall, I’m itching to get back out there. I’ve never skied in July or August, but this could be the year that happens, all thanks to the record snowfall. If only these 90*F days would go away, it might stick around a little longer!
Well, we’ve made the best of it, hitting a good line on James Peak (Sky Pilot):
I was feeling less-than-stellar this weekend, possibly due to a vaccine reaction. This didn’t hold up our plans for making it a “super sport” weekend, however. As soon as we got food in our system in Idaho Springs we were off to Buena Vista to meet Matt and Heidi for a Class 3/4 whitewater adventure in the Brown’s Canyon section of the Arkansas. Despite three out of the four paddlers spending some time in the 32* whitewater, a good time was had by all. Needless to say we were exhausted, and when our early alarm went off the next morning, we opted instead to sleep in and ski Independence Pass later in the day. In the meantime, we dawdled a little bit.
We finally moseyed our way towards the pass, only to find ourselves in decent company with a fair handful of backcountry skiers who were happy to point us in the right direction. During the climb up, Andy and I looked to the south and saw… beauty. In mountain form. A perfect, glorious looking couloir just brimming with snow. Grizzly Peak A, at 13, 988 ft, is the closest “almost” 14er in Colorado, and in fact was listed as one until the USGS measured it again in 1980 and gave it the elevation it bears today. Bears, get it? :)
Well, we couldn’t exactly look at something like that and not possibly attempt it. MaryClaire was finally in town (in nearby Carbondale) and after some research and a failed attempt to climb Dead Dog, we left for Carbondale on Friday afternoon.
We made great time, stopping to take a look at the overflowing, rushing, and frankly terrifying-looking Colorado rushing past Glenwood Springs. Of course, Andy wished he had his kayak. We arrived in Carbondale just past dark, got ourselves situated and packed, and set the alarm for very early the next morning.
Unfortunately, the temperature reading at 4 am was a toasty 40*F. As our plan was to try to do the double of Castle/Conundrum, it was not in the cards to try to go any further. We promptly turned around and went back to bed. At a proper hour, we headed up towards Independence Pass for our 2nd round, and the snow had melted significantly since our previous outing. Since I had the unfortunate accident of a liter of water spilling into one of my ski boots, and with Taiga injured from a tweaked muscle while sprinting around in the snow, I sat this one out while Andy and M.C. did a quick hike for some turns.
Fortunately, the trailhead for Grizzly is just off the pass, and we made good time and got our pick of campsites.
Then, it was time for bed. Another early morning…
For an incredible first view of the peak.
The clouds were threatening, and leaving Taiga at the trailhead was stressful. Luckily, everything worked out for the better. Despite some suncups at the top (it was late June after all), most of the descent was actually in decent shape.
An incredible descent to knock off the list. I feel that I could be here for a lifetime and not experience all the great skiing in this state.
And it looks like there’s still some more snow to ski. Or, alternatively, we can pack our bags and head into the blizzards occurring in South America this time of year. That’s what Sweetgrass Productions has been up to for the past two years. I’m excited to see people skiing/boarding backcountry in some of my favorite mountains in the Andes.