White Firecrackers — Skiing the Fourth of July in Colorado

Post by WildSnow.com blogger | July 7, 2008      

Some folks ignite gunpowder to celebrate Fourth of July. Instead, we push a few snow crystals around. I’d spoken with Jordan White last week, who’s been up to Montezuma Basin (above Aspen) and had good skiing in Conundrum Couloir. For this weekend Ted Mahon was game to see how big the suncups had grown. So I joined up with him and the usual cast of die hards. The skiing was actually pretty good, companionship exceptional, and weather perfect. I even got to drive our Jeep. What more can one ask for?

Dynafit backcountry skiing.
Adam Moszynski throwing white firecrackers in Conundrum Couloir. Not quite powder and not quite white, but quite fun nonetheless.

Conundrum Peak and Conundrum Couloir
Conundrum Peak as viewed from Castle Peak. Snow coverage presently at about 30% of what’s shown in this photo, but Conundrum Couloir is in, rated Grade I D-10 R3

Dynafit backcountry skiing.
Pearl Pass Road to Montezuma definitely requires high clearance and 4-wheel-drive, (just about any stock SUV or truck is adequate though sometimes a bit marginal in terms of clearance). Our “built” 1947 Willys Jeep is overkill, but nice to drive instead of beating up our stock pickup.

Dynafit backcountry skiing.
Road above timberline is still blocked by snow, but a fairly short hike gets you up to the areas with good snow coverage. Because of this year’s extensive snowpack, we were able to ski the creek drainage back down to our trucks. That’s Conundrum Peak up ahead, Conundrum Couloir is hidden.

Dynafit backcountry skiing.
Ice tarn in upper Montezuma Basin is an icon of the place. Ted hiking.

Dynafit backcountry skiing.
Tim Mutrie drops in.

Dynafit backcountry skiing.
Just below the choke. Conundrum keeps you on your toes because one section of the couloir stays shadowed and icy ’till late morning. You start down on buttery corn — a few turns later you’re dragging Ptex over ice chunks. People have fallen down the chute and gotten fairly worked, but it’s short and not particularly difficult. The bottom apron eventually melts out to a scree field, in that case a fall can have more serious consequences.

Dynafit backcountry skiing.
Couloir crew. Lisa took the photo, she and our friend Scott skied a different line. That’s Glen Poulson on the left, then Adam Moszynski in the blue shirt, Ted Mahon in yellow, and Tim Mutrie in black on right, and me in the foreground. We spent three days picking out the colors, with the coaching of three world class ski photographers as well as TGR. Why I’m the only guy in a helmet I do not know. Probably hit my head one too many times or something.

Colorado backcountry skiing.
Another lap was mentioned. At least we thought about it. Hanging out at the trucks on a sunny alpine day was just as good.

Colorado backcountry skiing.
Heading down, looking at Pearl Basin area. Another excellent day, and appreciated!


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6 Responses to “White Firecrackers — Skiing the Fourth of July in Colorado”

  1. Cody July 8th, 2008 12:35 pm


    Having been up to the alpine recently, do you think that Grizzley Chute is still in condition for a snow climb (no skiing)?



  2. Jordan July 8th, 2008 6:35 pm

    Hey Cody,
    I was near there on the other side of the pass over the weekend skiing Champion peak and UN 13,736 and from there Grizzly looks to still be full of snow up the couloir.

  3. Cody July 9th, 2008 6:59 am

    Thanks Jordan.


  4. riderpitts July 10th, 2008 1:12 am

    Man you have a great helping of clean living out there.

  5. Adam Moszynski July 10th, 2008 12:49 pm


    What a fun day! I’ve been wanting to ski that Couloir for a couple years and never made it up there. I’m glad we made it happen on our Nation’s Birthday! It was great to ski with you, Teddy, Glenn, and Tim. Let’s make it happen again soon. Cheers!


  6. Njord July 11th, 2008 1:25 pm

    Chad and I got to ski Condundrum on Thursday…. we drove up in Chad’s “stock” Nissan Xterra, which barely made it, which makes me want to reconsider the statement if a “stock” 4×4 is adequate for such an endevour. (we did get to watch a Ford Expedition high-side itself a couple of times on our way up).

    Fun skiing…. although a bit warm (who figured mid-July would be warm?).


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