Independence Pass Open 2014


This post by WildSnow.com blogger  
Early morning on Independence Pass, Colorado.

Early morning on Independence Pass, Colorado.

Yes, we’ve had a good winter here in the western Colorado Rockies. Winds in March and April blew in a few dreadful dirt layers but recent storms have reset the snowpack to spring corn conditions that are reminiscent of the good ol’ pre-snirt days. The road over Independence Pass opened last Thursday and since then all sorts of backcountry travelers are enjoying this glorious zone. Parking areas are packed, but abundant coverage allows folks to fan out like gentle waves on a pond.

Whether the objective was social or solitude, the Rockies delivered with forget-me-not blue skies over blankets of sparkling white glisse. But like icky fuzz growing on a dish of moldy leftovers, the snirt is spreading quickly with our warming weather trends. We’re happy to see folks enjoying this precious time, however fleeting it may be.

Fun to see the various ways to enjoy this beautiful terrain.  This threesome was skate skiing the Lost Man Loop.

Lots of ways to enjoy beautiful terrain. This threesome was skate skiing the Lost Man Loop. (Click all images to enlarge.)

Creamy corn.

Creamy corn.

Even spotted a kite flyer!

Alpine breezes like a kite.

Lounging on the corn field.

After climbing a peak, balmy temps make lounging on the corn field quite luxurious.

Dave & George

Frequent race partners, Dave & George, enjoy a day without a starting gate.

Julie and Sarah

Sweet way to spend mother daughter time — Julie and Sarah.

Pointing out future objectives.

Lou points out future objectives.

IMG_0346 c

Catching up to friends.

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Alpine flight.

Time for another lap.

Psyched for another lap.

Yeehaw!

Yeehaw!

Barbecue time

Saturday’s après ski barbecue at the hairpin turn.

Mercedes table and trip planner.

Never can get enough. The Mercedes makes a nice table for future trip planning.

Comments

12 Responses to “Independence Pass Open 2014”

  1. slcpunk May 28th, 2014 1:48 pm

    Ouch! I thought I read reports about it not freezing, stormy weather, and being poor corn conditions…looks pretty good from your photos….looks like I missed out!

  2. Lisa Dawson May 28th, 2014 3:57 pm

    slcpunk, sorry you missed out! I must admit we’ve been surprised at how good it’s been, especially since there’s not as much snow up there as we expected. Too bad it won’t last long.

  3. Tess May 28th, 2014 4:22 pm

    AVSC ROCKED! Stoked to see everybody on The Pass. What a fun morning!

  4. Rob S. May 28th, 2014 10:19 pm

    Sorry that I missed you guys…made it up there for the first time on Memorial Day. Thanks for the beta you posted a few days ago!

  5. Mark Worley May 28th, 2014 10:21 pm

    Beautiful sights! Might have to ski off Trail Ridge soon too, as it has been a good year up there. Warm temps will undoubtedly bring down the snow quickly, though.

  6. mtnrunner2 May 28th, 2014 11:30 pm

    I’ve always enjoyed these IP opening posts, always looks like fun even though I’ve never made it there on time.

    The dreaded snirt reaches into the forests as well: you can walk on top of several feet of cold, packed snow just fine, but come across some sun-warmed snirt, and OOF! you’re in it down to your knees!

  7. Dave Borchers May 29th, 2014 12:05 am

    Thanks Lisa and Lou. Great day!
    Dave

  8. Lou Dawson May 29th, 2014 5:27 am

    Dave and all, we should note that CDOT got the Pass open a few days early (thanks!), let us hope this is a trend and that they see the value in opening the road perhaps a week before Memorial Day, or even better, they could be doing a staged opening with several gates.

    For example, on the Aspen side they used to do this with a gate at Lincoln Creek. When the road is open to there it allows for use of most of the rock climbing and some hiking, as well as being close enough to the upper Pass for access via bicycle or ATV for skiing. They could also put a gate at Lost Man Reservoir campground, as there is plenty of parking at that point and by walking just a half hour or so above there on the road we’d have a huge amount of skiing available.

    It is tragic and incredibly annoying in the spring when most of the Independence Pass road is dry pavement and they keep it gated. We all pay through the nose in fuel taxes for these roads, they should be open for us to use when appropriate.

    Lou

  9. Pete Anzalone May 29th, 2014 9:30 am

    Lisa,
    Beautiful pix and thanks to WildSnow for organizing the very fun BBQ!
    -Pete

  10. GeorgeT May 29th, 2014 7:03 pm

    Lou & Lisa:
    Thanks for the beta on Blue Peak and super BBQ. The young adults shared a lot of positive energy to the skin and ski. The snow on Blue was mucho better than Mt. Justice (Marble) on Monday.
    George

  11. Jamie May 31st, 2014 8:38 am

    I’m glad it’s closed for so long, keeps the gapers away.

  12. Stumpa June 6th, 2014 1:52 pm

    The pass has been surprisingly good this late spring. I actually skied the IP to Grizzly Creek and up to Grizzly Peak on 6/4/14. The North Chute was in great shape and was beautiful corn. I stuck to the eastern (shady) side of the chute for the ascent and it was axe swinging firm snow that made for a great climb. The descent was a dance between the east wall crisp corn and the center chute slush corn. The skiing was great. But, I was out there late and still had to ski the creek to my afternoon ascent back to the saddle of Mountain Boy. I was at the shoulder of Mtn Boy at 5pm and very concerned about dropping back to the east Independence Pass switchback at that time. I started very cautious and found the snow amazing again. It was late enough for some of the lower slush to start freezing again. A long day of nearly 6000 ft of climbing and over 6000 of descent. Really, the conditions are epic spring snow. But it is going quickly.

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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.

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