Category Archives: Skiing

Chasing Powder

I think I finally understand people who are addicted to white powder.  I just indulged a powder addiction myself (snow not blow) for three days at Monarch, a ski area just outside of Salida, Colorado.

I love Monarch Ski area.

I love Monarch Ski area.

Let’s rewind for a moment.  If you read about my recent trip to Utah you know that I got totally skunked in terms of snow in that part of the country.  Ill pick up where I left off.

Jason and I had been camping and hiking on the San Rafael swell, a remote area north of I-70 in Utah.  Because we had cell service I was able to keep an eye on OpenSnow, my favorite website for keeping up on the weather.  The minute we saw major moisture headed towards Colorado with favorable predictions, we immediately broke down camp and headed East.  It was Tuesday and our plan was to drive back to the Front Range, re-organize our gear, do laundry, and head to Salida, Colorado, on Wednesday, just ahead of the storm.

Looking at the sky on Wednesday morning, you wouldn’t believe that Colorado was about to get one of the biggest storms of the season, but the radar didn’t lie.  Lots of Pacific moisture was headed our way and we put our

Breezeway liftline faceshots for Jeremiah.

Breezeway liftline faceshots for Jeremiah.

faith in the predictions as we re-packed the car and hit the road.  As we left Conifer, some higher clouds came into view, promising loads of snow in the near future.

Our drive was uneventful but provided some musical entertainment.  Jason is one of the more knowledgeable sources of music education in my life and he enlightened me with some artists such as the Rollins Band, Kool Kieth, My Life with the Thrill Kill Kult, and others.  I always come away from our adventures with new music to listen to.

Our room at the Days Inn in Salida was pretty standard.  Nothing too fancy,

J shredding.

J shredding.

inexpensive, and a continental breakfast makes life a little easier when you are trying to wake up early to get to the hill before the chairs start turning.  That evening we grabbed some food at Currents, a solid choice in Salida if you want descent food at a reasonable price.  We were not disappointed.

When I woke up Thursday morning, pumped to ski, I was a little worried.  Aside from being overcast, there wasn’t any new snow on the ground and temperatures were slightly above freezing.  I had to tell myself, ‘Monarch pass always gets snow, it’s always snowing up there even if it isn’t snowing in Salida.  Jason and I ate some food, got our gear together, and hit the road.

Faceshots all day long at Monarch

Faceshots all day long at Monarch

As we began driving up highway 50 I slowly felt better and better as snow began falling the higher up the pass we drove.  By the time we pulled into the parking lot at Monarch, there was at least 10 inches of snow, conditions were looking great.  Oh, and the parking lot was empty.  I love skiing during the week.

Without describing every run, I’ll say that those three days of skiing were some of the best turns I have had this season.  We received roughly 36″ of snow over three days.  I’ll let the pictures speak for themselves.  Until next time friends.

Powder turns on Outback.

Powder turns on Outback.

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Adventure #1: Ouray & British Columbia

I’ve been wanting to write a blog article for some time now but have been struggling with finding free time.  I have been putting of writing because my computer is broken and I have been attempting to blog from my iPad.  I’ve also been busy.  I just got back to Colorado on Monday the 20th after a couple weeks of traveling.

My most recent trip began by driving West – headed to South-Western Colorado; Ouray.  As you near this awesome little town, the San Juan mountains come into view and you instantly know these mountains are different then the Front Range.  Different colors and layers are visible in the strata that rise up on both sides of Main Street.  Our plan was to stay in Ouray for a couple days, camping one night and ice climbing at the ice park both days before dashing back to Fort Collins.

Day one was mostly an opportunity to find a campsite as well as figure out the details

Welcome to Ouray

Welcome to Ouray

regarding the ice park.  It turns out that there is no fee for climbing (unless you want to become a member to support the park) and that ice farmers turn on sprinkler heads at roughly 4 o’clock every night to fatten up the walls and pillars of ice that drip down into the narrow box canyon.  Camp Bird road turned up some easy car camping opportunities and after stomping out a platform to pitch our tent, we headed back to town for a beer at the local brewery.  Their brown ale was fantastic.

We did some bouldering on a small wall right next to the upper bridge to warm up before I jumped on lead for a short pitch to set up a top-rope for Megan and I to do some laps.  The climbing was pleasant with warm temperatures making the ice climbing secure.  After the warm up we headed to steeper and longer lines in the ice park a little way above the upper Climber at Ouray Ice Parkbridge.  Our final day involved each of us top-roping some even steeper climbing, my route involving some steep mushroom formations and Megan’s climb following some steep and thin sections with exposed rock.

Although there were a lot of other things we wanted to do such as check out the hotsprings and explore more of the park, we needed to make our way back to the Front Range to pack and start our drive to BC the next day.  Things felt somewhat rushed but at the same time we were very excited to be on the road to some awesome skiing.

After a near sleepless night filled with packing and figuring out last-minute details, we got up nice and early to meet the other folks that were driving up to BC with us.  This whole trip was organized by the CSU Outdoor club and was open to anyone (non-students like myself included).  We rented minivans and packed an improbable amount of gear and

Driving to Canada

Driving to Canada

people into them.  I was shocked that we were able to fit everything.

Day one of driving was 10 hours ending in Montana.  Day two we crossed the Canadian border (the border guards do not like jokes) and drove 11 hours, arriving in Golden, Canada at about 11 o’clock that evening.  Checking into the Dreamcatcher hostel was a blast – we rented the whole place for our group.  The hostel owners were really wonderful and accommodating of our group, making us feel right at home.  One bit of advice – buy beer and booze before entering Canada – there are not many craft breweries up there and the crappy light American beer that is available goes for up to $50+ for a 24 pack.

Powder selfie at Kicking Horse ResortOur first day of skiing Kicking horse resort was great with a soft base and surprisingly steep terrain.  Welcome to BC.  That evening the upper parts of the mountain got roughly 1.5 feet with another 6-8 inches falling during the day and it took every ounce of energy I had to ski powder with 4000+ feet of vertical descent every top to bottom run. On our third day in Golden we took a drive with two friends on the Ice Fields parkway which led us all the way to Jasper where we got some beer and food.  The drive gave us some SPECTACULAR views of the rugged Canadian Rockies complete with hanging glaciers, 1000 foot frozen waterfalls and the occasional view of the Columbia Ice Sheet.

After our time in Golden I managed to get in one day of backcountry skiing in Yoho National Park which provided me with some of the best powder turns I have ever experienced.  Next we drove over Rogers Pass on our way to Revelstoke, another amazing Canadian ski area.

Boot-pack at Revelstoke

Boot-pack at Revelstoke

Revelstoke boats the most vertical of any ski mountain in North America, over 5000 feet.

Ski touring in Yoho National Park, Canada.

Ski touring in Yoho National Park, Canada.

Although the snow was similar to spring conditions in Colorado (they hadn’t received any substantial snow since the Friday before we arrived) the terrain was awesome and the scenery  top-notch.  The town had some great food including one of the best sushi restaurants I have eaten at in a long time.

Driving back to Colorado was uneventful and took a long time.  At this point I am officially moved out of my house so I am technically homeless – couch surfing it for the foreseeable future.  Right now I am packing and organizing gear in Conifer, Colorado, getting ready for a trip to Utah for some skiing and backpacking (possibly in Canyonlands NP).  Will work on updating the blog more frequently.  Until next time friends!