Snow and Fourteener Skiers

Post by blogger | May 15, 2008      

For the time being we’re on a vacation from global warming, as the northern hemisphere snowpack reached record levels this winter.

Colorado backcountry skiing.
Colorado, yesterday.

If the snowy season had been hot and dry, we’d have heard endless spew from the “Warmists” about how doom was now upon us. Instead, much climate change rhetoric seems to have died down to a potent silence. Meanwhile, despite our well used jackets we still feel the climate has warmed — yet as always we’re skeptical about associated politics and preaching.

But summer is just around the corner, so expect the shouting to begin anew. To that end, here in Colorado I expect we’ll get a warming event fairly soon, and when that hits our overburdened mountains the floods may be of epic proportions (both floods of water and words).

Meanwhile, fourteener skiers here in Colorado are pounding our epic snowpack. Ted Mahon completed his descents of all 54 peaks with his and Al Beyer’s stunning new route on Capitol, as we blogged a few weeks ago. Next in line is Frank Konsella, who’s headed for Mount Harvard this weekend as his last descent of what looks to be a well executed project.

Konsella’s fourteener ski list starts with a 1996 descent of Torrys. As was the case with my somewhat lengthy ‘teeners project, Frank got energized to ski them all quite a few years after his first, and picked them off quickly after that. While I admire and enjoy Chris Davenport’s having skied them all in 12 months, and Mahon having a fairly fast project as well, it’s nice to see Konsella bringing it down to earth. Fact is, unless you’re leading a lifestyle with tons of free time and job flexibility, and are blessed with a string of good snow years, you’re simply not going to do complete ski descents of all 54 peaks at a scorching pace. Thus, unless you’re going for a record like Dav, my recommendation is to leave off the speed effort and simply enjoy the process. Oh, and one other thing, don’t leave the hardest for last.


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16 Responses to “Snow and Fourteener Skiers”

  1. Jordan May 15th, 2008 2:27 pm

    Was frank born in 1966? Or is that supposed to be a 1988? Just curious, he seems like a pretty young guy whenever I’ve skied with him.

  2. Lou May 15th, 2008 2:47 pm

    Jordan, good catch. Typo is fixed. I also forgot to link to Frank’s list and that’s now done.

  3. dave downing May 15th, 2008 3:31 pm

    that looks like chad or lynn skiing? denying them all their hard earned glory lou? i’ll bet they’re heartbroken 🙂

  4. Mac May 15th, 2008 4:31 pm

    Hope the snow down here in NZ will be as good this season. Maybe that Chilean volocano will help out with some cooler temps.

  5. Lou May 15th, 2008 4:57 pm

    Hmmm, I think it’s Chad. For some reason I’m having trouble seeing him clearly.

  6. Dan May 15th, 2008 8:59 pm

    Sopris… Never skied it and thinking about it this weekend. Any beta out there would be helpful and any thoughts on slide danger due to the strange weather this week???

  7. dave downing May 15th, 2008 10:34 pm

    just got the Down Low from a buddy at CDOT…Indy Pass might open first week of June at this point. Saw some pics, and there is SOOO much snow up there. can’t wait….and they did clear one lane for the bike race this weekend. so perhaps a giant bike poach will be in order 🙂

  8. Lou May 16th, 2008 4:12 am

    Dan, in general the snowpack has been quite stable. Just make sure you go early and you’re not up there during a warming event, such as after a night that never cools down due to clouds and warm air. Also, you can always do the northeast ridge to the lower east summit if things seem dicy, then take the ridge to the main summit. But usually the bowl above Thomas Lakes is where everyone goes. It’s getting skied at least 50 times a week these days.

  9. Lou May 16th, 2008 4:15 am

    Dave, interesting the way a bike race happens but we can’t even use a public road for a simple drive to go backcountry skiing. They should at least do staged openings of the Indy road, with several gates. As it is, a motorcycle or ATV is the ticket. Or yes a bicycle if you want to do a 15 mile road bike climb with all your gear, then do a ski tour after that.

  10. dave downing May 16th, 2008 7:25 am

    > Lou wrote:
    > As it is, a motorcycle or ATV is the ticket. Or yes a bicycle if you
    > want to do a 15 mile road bike climb with all your gear, then do a ski tour
    > after that.

    Does that mean you’re in lou? 🙂

  11. Jeff May 16th, 2008 9:29 am


    Before you start a rant about global climate change, make sure you understand the difference between “climate” and “weather”. In this case you are talking about “weather”. Thanks!

  12. Ed May 16th, 2008 10:32 am


    Why was the warm and dry “weather” on our east coast and in Europe during last year’s winter held up as proof that the “climate” is warming; but a extremely cold & snowy winter in Colorado is conveniently dismissed just as just “weather”?


  13. Chris May 16th, 2008 1:05 pm


    That’s a good question, why was it? Unfortunately, scientific findings are often reported by, well, reporters. Their job is to tell an attention-getting story. I looked, but couldn’t find any scientific concensus that 2007’s winter was proof of climate warming , though it was oft touted as along the “proven” trend (there was however, a great deal of skeptic consensus that 2008 was proof otherwise).

    If interested, I’d suggest anybody read the following:


    I suggest there is little “convenience” in an open and honest discussion of climate change and fully agree with Lou that one should always be “skeptical about associated politics and preaching,” regardless of the source.

    You’re welcome!

  14. Jeff May 16th, 2008 2:53 pm


    Your reading the paper…not peer reviewed science. That’s why…climate is typically on decadal temporal scales and longer…weather is year to year. Some years are epic, some are dry. Climate would be the record we have from, say, SNOTEL sites…1970-2008. These data show general trends…spring is coming early, peak accumulation is early, runoff is more dynamic, snow covered area is decreasing (largely in lower elevation landscapes) etc, etc…These types of data show that our climate is changing.

    All I’m saying is use your third eye when reading things in the paper and know the diffeence between weather and climate. If you do, it’s much more easy to pick out the BS, which there is a lot of these days. Using science as advocacy is a sad trend and both sides of the coin are doing it…just be aware of it.



  15. dave downing May 17th, 2008 9:02 am

    I felt Lou was mockingly making the statement that “dooms-dayers” like to use “weather” as proof.

    And as far as the whole story goes, I’ve still never heard more on this, but would really like too. Global dimming:

    pretty interesting watch i think.

  16. Lou May 17th, 2008 9:59 am

    That Global Dimming vid is pretty interesting, thanks for the link Dave.

    Warmists tend to use (or at least imply) weather as “proof. ” Even though most of us believe the climate is warmer this now than it was 20 years ago, it’s like the Warmists can’t get past needing to prove it. I enjoy riffing on that.

    What I’d like to see people do is start more intelligent discussion about what we are going to do or not do that actually will have an effect on our climate, then in my opinion they’ll reach the inevitable conclusion that we can do little to nothing about it due to geopolitics and human needs.

    Instead, we get all this preaching about our American lifestyle, as if we could suddenly reverse the process of global warming by implementing a few lifestyle changes, when in realty the whole modern world is based on pumping out CO2.

    My view, based on much reading, is global warming can’t be stopped and we should figure out how to deal with it, though at the same time we should be as elegant consumers as possible within the framework of modern life.

    In other words, going to conferences, recycling your trash and trying to get everyone to drive a Prius is not going to help people when the flooding starts.

    I should ad that one example of a geopolitical roadblock is our own policy of not increasing our use of nuclear energy. French folks like to think they are far superior to us barbarian Americans. When it comes to nuclear power, perhaps they’re correct.

    P.S., did I spell nuclear correctly?

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