Friday, March 17 - ski Tour Buffalo Mountain

Last day to ski in Colorado and our group is looking pretty sad.   We have had some great spring skiing at Copper, Breckenridge, and Aspen, but our group is falling apart.  Francine fighting a cold and sore feet, Rick fighting his cold and a pulled groin muscle.   Greg Mejleander's ankle and knees were not happy.   With the group, falling apart, I was excited to get out and do a ski tour.  I had thrown climbing skins in my bag, just in case I had the opportunity for a tour near our house in Silverthorne.   With Buffalo Mountain looking good, I had Rick drop me off at the top of Ryan Gulch road.




Buffalo Mt. at 12,777 feet looms above the town of Silverthorne Colorado elev. 9,000 feet.  I ascended through the trees on the left side of photo, then up to the summit.   I explored the option of skiing Silver Couloir, the prominent Y shaped run in the picture.  I lined up on the looker's right side of the line, but the terrain was so steep I could not get a good look at the skiing.   The top section was visibly wind effected, and skiing solo I decided to ski the more southerly descent, where I could see what I was dropping into.

Eagles Nest Wilderness

Start of the trip skinning, in shorts, through the lower trees

Above treeline, good travel conditions
Mountain Goat greeted me at the Summit ridgeline.

View off the summit

I dropped below the left ridge to get a little firmer snow

Good skiing below the upper bowl

Route of the day.  Glad to have my gps coming back through the trees

Stats:   3,500 elevation gain.  6.2 miles roundtrip.  3 hours 45 minutes.  Spent some time up top, to the North, exploring the Silver Couloir option.  Also looked at following tracks into the center bowl area.  Luckily I did not follow as looked like a rope may have been necessary to get over a rock band below upper bowl.  Descent route is the lower line (south)


Thursday, March 16 - Aspen Mountain


Greg had been planting the seed of Aspen all week.  At the beginning of the week, we told him we weren't getting in the car to drive over 2.5 hours one-way to ski.  Somehow, by Thursday, after our rest day on Wednesday, we relented.  We planned to leave by 7am, and were on the road at 7:30am.  By the time we figured out where to park, rode the shuttle to the base, and purchased tickets, we were getting in the Gondola line by 10:40am.  Boy was it warm at the bottom of the mountain.  We think this might be one of the latest ski starts we can think of.

Rode the Gondola to the top, and had real nice spring ski conditions all day.  We skied until 4pm.  On our last ride up, we stopped into the bar up top for a drink.  They had closed at 3:30pm.  Whaat??  No last drink before last run down?



Kevin, Rick and Francine



Greg, Kevin and Rick visit the Volunteer Fire Station in Aspen



Tuesday, March 14 - Breckenridge

Kevin, Fran, Rick and Greg


Today we ski Breckenridge.  Last night Rick and Kevin purchased their tickets online, only to save $7 each.  Francine and Greg were able to get the PSIA rate of $111.  (normally $179).  These are some of the most expensive tickets we have ever purchased.

We parked in the North Gondola lot, and the line was quite big, due to spring break and most of Texas being in Colorado.  We hopped the shuttle to the Peak 9 area, to avoid the crowds.  Breckenridge is certainly much bigger than Copper.  We had softer conditions today, and were able to explore off the groomers more today.  We tried to stay up higher on the mountain, to avoid the crowds at the base.  Even though there were lots of people on the hill, lines were managable and snow conditions were nice.  Rick was suffering from the altitude, we think from Sudafed and elevation.  Breckenridge was our favorite ski area of this trip.

Tomorrow is a rest day for Kevin, Francine and Greg.  Rick will probably ski tomorrow, as Bill, the house owner and another friend of Rick's, Vern will be skiing at Copper tomorrow, and Rick wants to see them.

Rick, the trip organizer




Rick and Greg


Monday, March 13 - Copper Mountain

Big group, first day at Copper Mountain

We are in Silverthorne, Colorado for the week to ski, thanks to Rick Murakami.  His family friend has a nice 3 bed/3bath house in Silverthorne that he lets Rick use, and we were lucky enough to get invited.  We arrived in Denver yesterday, and after a Costco run, made our way into the mountains.  We arrived at the house and Rick's brother, Chris made dinner.  He, Jerry (brother) and 2 friends were finishing up their trip, so we had a fun first night.

Today we ski Copper Mountain.  Thanks to the Shell 2-for-1, we get to ski for half off.  Copper conditions remained quite firm throughout the day, as the sun that was supposed to burn off around noon, never burned off until late afternoon.  Did we say Spring break?  Most of Texas comes to Colorado for their spring break, and midweek was quite busier that we expected, but the lines were manageable.  We ended up losing the group, and Francine and I found the best snow up on the Sierra Chair.  The rest of the group seeks out the bumps, and were quite happy down low, where the conditions were slowly softening.

Basecamp in Silverthorne, Co.

March 6, Backyard skiing

Just keeps snowing up here at the pass.  Today we left the house and headed up to 5,000 ft.    Since my house sits at 2,600 feet, the snow quality only got better and deeper as we climbed.   Ran into Mark on our way up and Scott and I showed him one of our favorite descents.   It was good.   Face shot good.

Scott

Snorkel depth

Scott

Mark

Warp speed






Not too shabby

March 5, Mt. Catherine

Skied the lifts in the morning with friends and family, then after lunch headed for Mt. Catherine.   Snow was excellent up high.  Maybe six people had toured Catherine earlier, leaving plenty of untracked lines.  Tried a couple new descents, Summit direct, and East end of the ridgeline.  Both offered up great snow and steep lines.  Still more to explore in the backyard.

Granite Mt. gets a little sunshine.

Selfie from Mt. Catherine Summit

Untracked powder, just waiting.

Feb 25, Chair Peak Circumnavigation

Forecast for the day, sunshine and powder!   Unfortunately the sun forgot to come out.



Kelly takes the steep line into Pineapple Basin

Pulled into Alpental lot 4 at 8:30 and was immediately blown away with the amount of people gearing up to go out in the backcountry.  In fact, I think we would have seen less people if we had stayed in the near side-country and skied lift served.   I do believe this, most likely, was the busiest day I have ever seen skiing backcountry in the Alpental valley.   Oh well, we cheated with a chairlift start and headed to Bryant Pass, where we were the first group headed out for a clockwise circumnavigation of Chair.   Dropping into Melakawa basin we hit a strong sun crust from the previous two sunny days and almost considered turning back for Northern slopes.  We ended up traversing west to slightly shaded slopes and managed to find some decent turns by hugging the westernmost cliffs.    Climbed to Melakwa Pass and waited for some kind of visibility.   Yep.   Yep, waited about 15 minutes and finally dropped into the abyss.  Snow felt good, wish we could see.   Quick climb under Roosevelt, led to some of the best turns of the day, as we dropped down to Snow lake in good visibility.   We were joined by the Fall City gang of John Reusch and company, who bailed on the Roosevelt ascent, suffering some of the same visibility issues we had over at Melakwa Pass.   After the Fall city crew rehydrated, we did a bonus lap up to the NE ridge of Roosevelt.  We were amazed at the number of people skinning the lower flanks of Roosevelt.  Luckily plenty of powder for all.  Fun day, and good to get some mileage on the legs.

Heading for Bryant Pass

Dropping in on lower Melakwa Lake

Grey turns off Melakwa Pass to Chair lake

It was busy at the South end of Snow Lake

Feb. 23/24 Alpental Side Country

The lift accessed backcountry saw very little action this week.   The heavy wet snow dump on Tuesday was transformed by clear cool weather into some sweet POW.   I was lucky to get out Thursday with Tom and Lori for a couple of laps, then today hooked up with Scott and my Sister's family for a couple more powder laps.   Kristin and Maddie had not had the full Alpental back bowl experience and were suitable impressed.   Great to get out with good friends, good snow, and blue skies.

Tom and Kevin at Piss Pass

Dropping into Stokes Bowl,  Lori and Kevin

Kevin

Scott, Kevin, Jack, Maddie

Scott, Kevin, Maddie

Maddie and Kristin make the traverse out to Piss Pass

Maddie in Stokes bowl

Kris

Kris and Maddie