Independence Pass — Report Continued

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This post by WildSnow.com blogger  

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:

Blue Peak, Independence Pass backcountry skiing

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.

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.)

Climbing up Blarney Peak, Independence Pass

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?

Mountain Boy Park, Independence Pass

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.

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.

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

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.

The happy couple atop Blue Peak, Memorial Day weekend, Independence Pass. Click image to enlarge.

Online guidebook for Independence Pass backcountry skiing and snowboarding.

Comments

6 Responses to “Independence Pass — Report Continued”

  1. Scott Nelson May 31st, 2011 2:11 pm

    Yep. The corn harvest is finally here. How long will it last? Don’t sit around trying to figure that out, just get out there! Nice pics Lou!

    BTW, I found someone’s gloves laying in the middle of the highway, at the Independence townsite. My guess it was one of the other groups up on Independence mountain this morning. If it was you, leave a comment and I’ll get them back to you.

  2. Mike Marolt May 31st, 2011 2:15 pm

    We skied up there this AM and it was a perfect cold-winter-in-spring AM with boiler plate under a few inches of new snow. Really amazing conditions. Will be interesting to see what the warm forcast does to the region, but I bet with the high winds also predicted, it will keep things in pretty good shape….i hope.

    Love the ski reports at WS!! Not being a gear hog at all, it’s alway a bonus to see what people are skiing, how conditions are being reported. Thanks.

  3. Scott Nelson May 31st, 2011 2:21 pm

    Yes, trip reports are good! We skiied two lines off Independence Mtn this am. The east face (perfect corn) and the northwest chute off the summit (firm, but skiable). And another group skied the main NE gulch which looked like it probably had the best snow of all. Good stuff!

  4. Lou May 31st, 2011 4:44 pm

    We stayed up there till about 3:30 P.M, skied Blue into North Fork Lake Creek, then up and back to Geisslers, then 4 Geisslers (starting with Geissler 1/2, grin. Report as soon as I can get it up, but be advised that the snowpack is very reliable, though still wise to stay off steeps when it really warms up.

    I saw Marolts headed down while the ice was still nice and hard. Each to his own (grin).

  5. Scott Nelson May 31st, 2011 4:58 pm

    Nice day Lou! Glad we just had an easy day across the highway from you. What, were you drinking red bulls all morning?

  6. Lou May 31st, 2011 5:26 pm

    No, one word, Perlmutter. The man settles for nothing less than mega. And he’d been at sea level for 8 days! Mutant. I was sucking down energy gels like a redneck chain smoking Camels. More later.

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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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