It’s not skiing, it’s snirting. The new sport. Just find a place to dunk your skis afterward, and get ready to max the washing machine once you’re home. But a day in the mountains, no matter how close to a laundry soap commercial it gets, is still a day in the mountains. So yesterday myself, Nick Thompson and Dave Downing ended up skiing what I call the Teeny Couloir (left) on West Pearl Mountain. But not before a small detour as well as a pastry alert — and yes, muddy snow that’s coming to be known as ‘snirt.’ Check it out.
|Nearing the summit ridge on West Pearl Mountain, 13,312 feet. The day was misty, the snow was dirty, and the camera loved every minute of it. I loved 80% of it, but the lower elevation snirt (snow dirt) was not exactly the ultimate. Click image for massive enlargement.
Last spring my wife Lisa sussed out the only bakery within 75 miles that's open in the wee hours. Louie's (no relation, other than in spirit) Swiss Pastries unlocks their door around 4:00 AM, and serves whatever is cooling from the ovens. Today's freshies happened to be some kind of rhubarb confection that stunned Nick, a jalapeno sausage rig that silenced Dave, and bearclaws which carbo loaded me perfectly. Louie's has an espresso machine, and takes credit cards. They're located in the Airport Business Center across from the Aspen Airport. Google map below shows location. Tell 'em WildSnow sent you.
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Here is where the day got weird, but only for a moment. I'd forgotten that though Independence Pass opened today, they were unlocking the gate in the afternoon, not the morning. So we ended up skunked for the Pass. We figured Dave might be able to chew through the lock, but no luck.
Plan B, head for the highest drive we could think of, which was the Pearl Pass 4x4 road at the end of Castle Creek, above Aspen. Access there is really quite good -- you can be on top of a 13,000 foot peak in three or four hours. We picked West Pearl Mountain, and skied a nice route off the summit I call the 'Left Teeny Couloir' after Kristyne 'Teeny' H. Jeung, who died in a nearby avalanche many years ago.
|Another shot from the summit ridge on Pearl Mountain. I loved the light and the snow colors. I’m always glad Dave has that red Cloudveil jacket. Click image for massive enlargement.
Yours truly starts down Left Teeny Couloir. I'd just cell phoned my mother in Crested Butte, a few miles southwest of us (everyone should phone their mother whenever possible, right?) 'It's raining hard here,
Nick is a core Telluride telewhacker, but he's on Dynafits now. Even so, interesting how his leg drops back and flexes that Scarpa Magic boot for everything it's worth. Quite dynamic there Mister Thompson!
Is he water skiing a muddy reservoir? Only Dave knows for sure. And yes, the snirt was heinous. Nick Thompson photo.
They don't teach you this in the Solomon ski tech certification class, but it works. Snirt? No problem. Just place skis in crystal clear mountain creek for a good washing. Dynafit warranty department, you didn't see this.
In all, a fun day, but the snirt is only good in small doses. We might get a coating of fresh here in central Colorado tonight, above timberline will be best. Hit the passes. Loveland, Indy, Berthoud. And be ready to activate your washing machine.
West Pearl Mountain with cleaner snow, dots show Left Teeny Couloir.
Check out West Pearl Mountain on the Google Map below.
[gmap name='mymap' lat='38.985150' lng='-106.844444' zoom='13' maptype='g_hybrid_map' desc='West Pearl Mountain' width='525']