Preview – Ski Independence Pass Colorado


This post by WildSnow.com blogger  
Snirt is covered on Blue Peak, Colorado. Independence Pass will be the place to ski this weekend!

Snirt is covered on Blue Peak, Colorado. Independence Pass will be the place to ski this weekend!

Independence Pass is scheduled to open this Thursday (May 22) at 2:00 pm. The week or so before the gate is unlocked is heaven for bike riders. With no cars on the road, you can pedal up to the top of the Rockies in peace. I called up my friend Liz and we did just that, along with a recon for ski mountaineering.

Our last few winters of drought and dirt have almost destroyed the long season of spring corn skiing we once enjoyed. With recent storms adding a layer of snow on top of the “snirt,” this spring might be different. Liz and I were psyched to hop on our bikes and check out what lay ahead for our backcountry ski plans this weekend.

We parked at the North Star Nature Preserve, just east of Aspen.  A few miles up CO Hwy 82, the gate to Indy appears.

We parked at the North Star Nature Preserve, just east of Aspen. Independence Pass is about 20 miles away, roughly 4000 ft elevation gain. A few miles up from where we parked, the gate to Indy appears.

Snow coverage looks better than it has in years, but I was surprised there wasn't more snow. The dirt patches are already appearing and the sun makes them grow quickly.

Snow coverage looks better than it has in years, but I was surprised there wasn’t more. The dirt patches are already appearing and the sun makes them grow quickly. 50/50 chance of a little more snow fall predicted for next few days. Looking toward Geissler peaks.

Highway crews are clearing  the few remaining snow sluffs near the top.

Highway crews clearing the few remaining snow sluffs near the top.

Made it! Note the dirt layers in the snow.  Mountain Boy Basin is in the background.

Made it! Note the dirt layers in the snow. Mountain Boy Basin is in the background.

For more information about the backcountry skiing possibilities on Independence Pass, check out Backcountry Skiing Colorado.

Comments

11 Responses to “Preview – Ski Independence Pass Colorado”

  1. Jess May 22nd, 2014 9:55 am

    Ride For The Pass, held the Saturday before the road opens, is my favorite rite of Spring. It’s a butt kicker!

  2. Lisa Dawson May 22nd, 2014 10:05 am

    Butt kicker, yes, especially for the first big ride of the year. As I wheezed by the mile marker on the top I thought, “20 miles…that was only 20 miles?” Haha, felt at least double that.

  3. mtnrunner2 May 22nd, 2014 9:36 pm

    When I read about Independence Pass opening this weekend, of course I immediately thought about the — seemingly annual — Wild Snow conditions report :) Hopefully rain will stay away long enough for some skiing, riding, BBQ and other fun on the Pass. Cheers :)

  4. Ben May 23rd, 2014 6:32 am

    What day are you guys doing the BBQ on the pass? I have been reading wildsnow faithfully for years and am coming up to ski this weekend. We are camping over on lake creek the whole weekend and would love to come and check out this famous event.

  5. Lou Dawson May 23rd, 2014 7:12 am

    Hi Ben, the word is that everyone might try it tomorrow, Saturday May 22, 11:00 am at upper hairpin turn on Aspen (west) side of pass. But might have to try it Sunday or even the next weekend due to weather. Watch this space or Facebook. It’s a community gathering, nothing official, please keep that in mind. Lou

  6. Ryan E. May 23rd, 2014 9:09 am

    Disappointing weather, especially since we all have waited for the road to open. I was looking forward to finally being able to ski corn without snw-mud in the sunshine. Oh well, have to let the mountain gods rule.

  7. Lou Dawson May 23rd, 2014 9:21 am

    Yeah, I think some folks will get some turns today up there, but we didn’t go. Started out, but we’re driving in the rain. They do that in the PNW, but when we get rained on in Colorado we tend to go back indoors (grin). Lou

  8. Ben May 23rd, 2014 12:42 pm

    Thanks guys for the info. We are heading up tonight and will check out the hairpin to see if anyone is around. The weather does look like it is going to be challenging, but I am a Loveland/Berthoud regular, so it might feel balmy to us.

  9. James B. May 23rd, 2014 9:07 pm

    Wimps! Here on Maui we have a road that rises 10,023 feet vertical in 36 miles. At 4000 ft in 20 miles, Independence Pass sounds practically flat ;=)

    We even have a yearly race from the beach up to the top, check out http://www.CycleToTheSun.com

    Your 4000 ft in 20 miles sounds more like our little “baby hillclimb”, Pedal To The Meadow over on Kaua’i, which takes place this weekend.

    http://www.PedalToTheMeadow.com

  10. Lisa Dawson May 24th, 2014 6:04 am

    James B, you win the macho medal. RAD! Those rides must be breathtaking (visually & physically, haha). I added them to my bucket list. Have fun!

  11. michael June 10th, 2014 9:13 am

    Has anyone been up to Grizzley in the last week? How is the approach?

Got something to say? Please do so.





Anti-Spam Quiz:


If you need an emoticon for a comment just copy/paste off the following list, or use text code you might be familiar with.
:D    :-)    :(    :lol:    :x    :P    :oops:    :cry:    :evil:    :twisted:    :roll:    :wink:    :!:    :?:    :idea:    :arrow:   
  
Due to comment spam we moderate most comments. Please do not submit your comment twice -- it will appear shortly after approval. Comments with one or more links in the text may be held in moderation, for spam prevention. If you'd like to publish a photo in a comment, contact us. Guidelines: Be civil, no personal attacks, avoid vulgarity and profanity.
Welcome to Louis (Lou) Dawson's backcountry skiing information opinion website and e magazine. Lou's passion for the past 45 years has been alpinism, climbing, mountaineering and skiing -- along with all manner of outdoor recreation. He has authored numerous books and articles about backcountry skiing and is well known as the first person to ski down all 54 of Colorado's 14,000-foot peaks, otherwise known as the Fourteeners! Books and free back country news and information here, and tons of Randonnee rando telemark info.

All material on this website online magazine is copyrighted, the name WildSnow is trademarked.. Permission required for reproduction, electronic or otherwise. This includes publication and display on other websites by whatever means. PLEASE SEE OUR COPYRIGHT and TRADEMARK INFORMATION.

Backcountry skiing is a dangerous sport. You may be killed or severely injured if you do any form of ski mountaineering, skimo randonnee and randonnée skiing. The information and news on this website is intended only as general information. While the authors and editors of the information on this website make every effort to present useful information about ski mountaineering, due to human error the information, text and images contained within this website may be inaccurate, false, or out-of-date. By using, reading or viewing the information provided on this website, you agree to absolve the owners of Wild Snow as well as content contributors of any liability for injuries or losses incurred while using such information. Furthermore, you agree to use any of this website's information, maps, photos, or binding mounting instructions or templates at your own risk, and waive Wild Snow its owners and contributors of any liability for use of said items for backcountry skiing or any other use.

Switch To Mobile Version