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Some say they’re the most photographed mountains in the world. That’s hyperbole, but the Maroon Bells have certainly burned up their share of pixels and celluloid.
After ski alpinism this past Saturday, the next morning my wife and I did a valley tour some distance up West Maroon Creek. We skied a nice cirque that is one step beyond Len Shoemaker, and discovered that while it does take some time to reach the upper end of the valley near West Maroon Pass, the return is enough of a glideout to make the trip doable in a day for just about any peak up at the end of the drain. (Take note, those who want to explore new places.) We didn’t start particularly early, as we weren’t planning on skiing anything east facing. Thus, we were hiking around Maroon Lake during the alpenglow and I caught the shot below (click to enlarge).
I told Lisa (she’s in the shot above) that this is the traditional hike most Roaring Fork Valley mountaineers do hundreds of times in their careers. Always somewhat nostalgic for this kid. But also with humorous aspect as you run the gauntlet of tourists on the way back.
Nearly every one of the sneaker clad minions are friendly and understandably curious when they see you tromping down the trail with skis on your back. I always try to be nice, but with thirst burning your throat and another mile of dusty foot trail between you and the cooler in your truck, the answers can get short. When they ask “How is the skiing?” my usual retort (given with a smile) is “Great, but the lifts are slow.” I’ve heard better comebacks, but that’s my line…
Anyone have some better ones? How do you answer “the question?”
WildSnow.com publisher emeritus and founder Lou (Louis Dawson) has a 50+ years career in climbing, backcountry skiing and ski mountaineering. He was the first person in history to ski down all 54 Colorado 14,000-foot peaks, has authored numerous books about about backcountry skiing, and has skied from the summit of Denali in Alaska, North America’s highest mountain.