Thursday, March 29, 2012
Let me share two secrets about the Colorado's San Juans with you. Secret number 1: The ice is great in the late fall. Secret number 2: Spring is the time to ski! The spring melt freeze changes the shapes of the snow crystals. It turns them into rounds that skiers call "corn". This corn makes for creamy, smooth, and fast skiing. The consistency of the snow means that you can ski a bit more aggressively, like you might on a groomed trail, than winter's variable conditions allow.
Not only do the great conditions make spring skiing a joy, the warm temps make for pleasant, warm, touring. Touring in the sunshine, it is hard to not to go to the summit of the many 12k and 13k peaks in the area. From these summits, skiers can enjoy wide open alpine bowl skiing or skinny couloir skiing, take your pick.
Come check it out!
Wednesday, March 14, 2012
There is an imposing group of mountains that sit on the horizon as you drive from Ouray through Ridgway to Telluride. This group of mountains are the most rugged peaks in the Rocky Mountain sub range, the San Juans. This is the Sneffles range. Named for Mount Sneffels a 14k peak.
While I have often glimpsed these peaks on my way back form getting groceries in Montrose, I hade never visited them until recently. Phillipe and I decided to ski up into the Sneffles range for a ski mountaineering adventure.
We skied close to ten miles to right below the summit of Reconnoiter peak. The peak is capped by a 80 foot rock pinnacle. Since we had no rock climbing gear and we had our ski boots on our feet, we could not find a weakness that would lead to the summit.
The prominent couloir to the west (left) of the peak made for an exciting ski descent. Though the upper section was full of breakable wind crust, the bottom was pure San Juan ski bliss. The Sneffels Range is home to some of Colorado's best technical mountaineering. I cannot wait for my next chance to visit this unique range.