3 Days on Independence Pass Colorado — It’s In

Post by WildSnow.com blogger | June 8, 2008      
Colorado backcountry skiing.
Today (Sunday) was an odd day. Louie, Lisa and I planned to ski a big peak near Independence Pass, but woke up to rain here in Carbondale. We did our super early start just in case the weather was isolated, but ended up driving through a blizzard to the trailhead, where we napped in the truck till firstlight. Since our main goal wasn’t happening, we opted for the standard climb and ski of Blue Peak (skiing off the summit, shown above). Funny thing was, we were too early. A few hours after we finished the sky cleared — but we were driving home. No worries, back again in a few days with plenty of chores and webwork to get done in the meantime.

Colorado backcountry skiing.
Sunday morning.

Dynafit backcountry skiing.
After skiing Saturday we drove around and checked out how parked in everything was with skiers. Just amazing. Pass summit parking area was totally filled, with cars on the shoulder stacked for several hundred yards — some even covering half a highway lane while trying to use a few inches of shoulder (if State shows up, a sure ticket). I’d say 98% of the cars were skiers or snowboarders. Beautiful to see so many people out, and indeed, plenty of ski room for everyone (though a bit more parking might be good). Someone should bring a mobile taco stand up there on weekends — they’d make a killing.

Dynafit backcountry skiing.
We saw our friends Debbie and Sally enjoying the climb on middle Geissler.

Dynafit backcountry skiing.
Back again Saturday (June 7), on the Geisslers.

Dynafit backcountry skiing.
Friday morning (June 6), east face of Blue Peak, Louie Dawson skiing.

Dynafit backcountry skiing.
Friday, a bit of wind up there, but that’s supposed to diminish over the next few days. Nice to see the alpine snowpack get a good renewal surface, as the dirt layer is lurking. Get it while it’s good.

If you’d enjoy browsing through our years of Independence Pass trip reports and such, check out this site specific Google search.



14 Responses to “3 Days on Independence Pass Colorado — It’s In”

  1. Toby June 6th, 2008 9:38 pm

    Louie, gettin’ it done!

  2. Vince S. June 7th, 2008 9:56 pm

    I was up on Fri morning. 28 degrees and almost winter conditions. By the time we were done at noon there were skiers everywhere. Saw you and Louie at the Lostman trailhead while lapping. By Sun afternoon I’ll bet some areas will be “bumped out”. Tremendous

  3. dave downing June 9th, 2008 11:15 am

    wow! that pic of the parking lot is crazy. i think i see the car i drove up in … at 6:15am there was 1 vehicle up there, had the place to ourselves pretty much. only our driver had to visit the top to pick up our shuttle car, glad i got to avoid that zoo. any report from anyone on how big the bumps got on 4th of july bowls? 🙂

    also, louie, i’m bummed my pics of your line were blurry b/c of wind/snow. but it looked SWEET from down below. good job … we thought about going for sloppy seconds but didn’t feel like climbing the saddle again.

  4. BJ June 9th, 2008 1:30 pm

    looks like a normal day for teton pass! wow!

  5. Lou June 9th, 2008 2:51 pm

    BJ, Kundalini Crack had your name on it. Double fitness day, ski to a 5.10 offwidth at almost 13,000 feet, climb, then ski more. Cross training!

  6. Scott Nelson June 9th, 2008 3:59 pm

    Lou – In your guidebook ( with Indy Pass routes), when you say “easy boots”, do you mean with or without crampons, and likewise, with or without an ice ax? Also, any reason, other than weight, that you or Louie chose the BD Raven Ultra over the Raven Pro?

    Had a good morning on the Geissler’s today, but I’m still too early on the start, top of E. Geissler at 9:00am and was still a tad frozen coming down; good climb going up though, reminded me of a 5.6 R/X slab at some points 🙂 Saw the Instant Karma crag yesterday through the snow, I’d rather be skiing.

  7. BJ June 9th, 2008 4:28 pm

    I’ve climbed up at that crag, great fun!

  8. Lou June 9th, 2008 4:36 pm

    Scott, “Easy Boots” would generally mean no crampons or axe necessary, but conditon dependent of course. Ice glazed frozen snow changes everything when it comse to safety, as you can take a pretty good slide fall even on fairly low angled slopes. Rougher frozen corn tends to not be as tricky. iThe axe choice was simply about weight.

  9. Scott B June 10th, 2008 1:42 pm


    Do you know the condition of Pearl Pass Road?



  10. Lou June 10th, 2008 5:57 pm

    Scott, not first hand, but I can guess you can drive up there a mile or two by now, probably to the stream crossing or perhaps beyond.

  11. Lou June 10th, 2008 6:12 pm

    BJ, any new bolts suddenly appear after you left ?

  12. david dellamora June 17th, 2008 10:54 am

    hey lou and louie, so glad i had the oppurtunity to meet y’all last week while grilling burgers on independence. your tour of williams sounded incredable. my time in the aspen area was pleasurable but rather tame. a night at crater lake essentially became a reconn tour, so awesome waking up to snow the morning of the 11th! just as you suspected, bell chord couloir was filled with purple dirt and was in fairly rugged condition. likewise, your suggestion to attempt the north direct route of the north bell was absolutely the right call, but not an endevor was ready to tackle on my own. anyhow, i spent the following day sking firnspeigle below the east face of castle peak. such a relaxing afternoon, smooth snow and virtually no winds. and much like we discussed on the pass, snow stability and surface conditions remained in tact until after 5pm. back here in summit county, we had perfect spring descents of both dave’s wave on saturday and cream on buffalo’s front-side for father’s day. hope you are well lou, thanks again for all the direction you offer. david dellamora

  13. Lou June 17th, 2008 11:08 am

    David, great to meet you and glad to hear you had a good trip. It’s indeed terrific how the snowpack has been holding up. Interesting what happens when we don’t have any significant depth hoar. A winter of global warming, thus less temperature gradient? Or just way more snow than normal?

  14. david dellamora June 18th, 2008 9:23 am

    well lou, regarding the lack of depth hoar this season, a handfull of contributing phenomena linger in my mind: 1) here in summit county the sun was basically masked by cloud and storm cover from december through febuaray. thus, with no warm colorado sun the december storm-snow never had any chance to melt away and seemed to have acted as an insulating blanket of sorts that possibly inhibited hoar growth. 2) likewise even though negative teens were the norm for the new year, we still never encountered copius amounts of standard continential faceted grains in the 3-5mm range. 3) the abnormally (even for CO) constant and gale force winds seem to have made the snowpack even thicker, possibly creating a more uniform and dense distribution of layering. 4) similarily, is it possible that surface hoar was less widespread because higher, daily winds blew the fathery crystals away before being buried? 5) furthermore, continued wintery conditions, which prevailed in both april and may, allowed the snowpack to grow even more homogenuos. 6) much like the lack of depth hoar, wet grains have not been readily evident, and our isothermic cycle was drawn out and gradual, again because winter essentially lingered for 2 extra months.

    to answear your question lou; i think the high snow totals and consitent wintery conditions lead to our stable spring/summer snowpack.

    we broke with the norm and busted out the climbing ropes yesterday. clear creek was fantasic. nice for the body to soak up some sun as well. enjoy, david

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