Everyone I saw up there this past Memorial Day weekend was smiling like a Vail ski instructor who’d just been tipped by a Saudi princess. Conditions continued to be somewhat variable at the snowpack surface, yet with most areas underpinned by a locked ‘pack that could support a Saturn rocket launch. Thus, steep terrain during the afternoon warming period was producing a few surface avalanches, but lower angled slopes could be enjoyed all day long. Exceptional for Colorado, more like the Sierra or Pacific Northwest. We spent three nights and three days up there and skied like groms digging through their older brother’s Lego box, you know, the one with a zillion pieces that took eight years to accumulate? Yep, a toy store, that’s what Independence Pass has been like, and we hope will continue to emulate. Check it out:
Saturday morning, Tony takes off down one of Blue Peak's steeper eastern pitches. The wind blew hard all weekend; that's a bit of blowing snow fogging up the couloir below Tony. Lisa and I did a more moderate line just over from this, then took the opportunity to ski a huge corn-snow basin down easterly to the North Fork of Lake Creek, where we snagged a ride back up the pave. A bit of bushwacking was involved, but worth it as a price for 3,000 vert. Click image to enlarge.
Skiing off summit of Blue Peak (Twining on map), looking south. The obvious couloir is of course Grizzly, with the Petroleum/Anderson peak area to the right which is normally accessed from the Lincoln Creek Road (which remains plowed and gated, no thanks to the anti-recreation ogres that keep it closed for any number of lame excuses.)
This was a rare sighting of NTN and an individual who's been a super friend over the years. Much better to meet here than at trade shows, right Chris?
On Sunday we did a multi-lap tour through Mountain Boy Park, where some of the western exposures are more wind stripped than one would expect for the kind of coverage the place has overall. No problem, because the lines we were skiing were all filled and the walking was pleasant. Click to enlarge, that's Linkins peak in the background, to the northwest.
Miner cabin in Mountain Boy Park. I like to hit this late 1800s relic during tours in the area. Makes you think. What was it like living and doing mine work at 12,000 feet more than a century ago?
Blarney Peak has a Blarney Stone, which must be kissed in some approximation of inverted body position. We were skiing this at around 3:00 in the afternoon. Amazing.
Independence Pass Summit, looking east at Mount Brumley. This shot is art, created with my special 'Russian wide angle.' If you don't understand, I have only myself to blame (grin). Click to enlarge.
The happy couple atop Blue Peak, Memorial Day weekend, Independence Pass. Click image to enlarge.
Online guidebook for Independence Pass backcountry skiing and snowboarding.