Mount Sopris Birthday Adventure

Post by blogger | March 17, 2009      
Backcountry Skiing

On Mount Sopris.

Mount Sopris is the quintessential peak, white capped, riven by couloirs, crowned with twin summits rising 7,000 vertical feet above our quaint village like a Jules Vern fantasy. Less informed locals sometimes think the mountain is a volcano, as from most angles it appears to stand alone, apart from any parent massif. That’s not the case. Sopris is indeed lofty, but just behind the alp are its parental units: 14,000 foot Snowmass and Capitol peaks. The area is big alpine, always good for a special day.

Backcountry Skiing

I was going to lead with some ski hero shot, preferably of myself so I could maintain my egomaniac qualifications, but last Friday was Lisa's birthday so here you go. This photo was taken Sunday on top of Baldy, above Four Mile Park. The low, timber covered mountain on the left is Williams Peak, kind of a mini Wasatch what with all the open aspen trees and consistently good powder once the base builds up. To the right is massive Mount Sopris. Since it's the western buttress of the Elk Mountains, east side of Sopris stays wind scoured most of the year. The good winter skiing is over on the left (northerly) side in a series of bowls and drainages that extend for miles. So, that's where we went on Saturday.

Backcountry Skiing

Birthday girl on Mount Sopris. In this shot we're on the 'backside' from home, tracks are on a southeast exposure. The first 2,000 vertical feet of this side can make for some terrific skiing, but go too low and you're trapped in convoluted terrain that resembles a corn maze, and eventually places you above some interesting ice climbs in Bulldog Creek. Best, skin and hike back up over Bull Saddle. Cool thing about doing this is that in the Bull saddle area and farther east you'll find a lifetime of timbered powder skiing terrain

Backcountry Skiing

Lap 3, this timbered area near Bull Saddle has been tempting me for years. Not a huge amount of vert, but enough to make multiple laps work perfectly.

Backcountry Skiing

Somehow we convinced John Gloor to make the long drive down from Aspen. He uses a snowmobile for access like we do, so we were able to do the sled road with two machines, much nicer than being out there with only one snowmobile (in case of mechanical problems).

Backcountry Skiing

Lou, Lisa, John Gloor (left to right) at the summit, looking easterly at the 'parental units'

Oh, I almost forgot, happy birthday dear!


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8 Responses to “Mount Sopris Birthday Adventure”

  1. Lisa March 17th, 2009 7:06 pm

    It was the best birthday ever. Thanks Sweetie! I’ll remember it always. The only thing missing was our Louie.

  2. Jeff Stephens March 18th, 2009 8:28 am


    Always been curious about that area on Sopris. Looks really fun. There is so much terrain there if you look around.

    It is my understanding that Mt. Sopris is not a volcano, but close. It is a “pluton,” which is a mass of crystallized magma that pushed up and cooled below the surface. Kind of like a volcano that never fully developed. It was like a volcano got “roughed in” but never finished. This area was definitely a volcanic hotspot at some point (Basalt Mtn, Dotsero, etc.).

  3. Ken Hudson March 18th, 2009 10:52 am


    I spend quite a bit of time on your site and have even purchased Colorado Backcountry Skiing. I have skied Sopris a couple of times. When you mention the “sled road” are you referring from Dinkle Lake Parking lot to the gate?


  4. Lou March 18th, 2009 11:14 am

    Ken, I’m referring to the legal trail used by snowmobilers. It begins as the Dinkle Lake Road, then turns off at the Sopris summer parking area and uses the Hay Park trail. The Hay Park trail basically contours the lower flanks of the peak.

  5. Ken Hudson March 18th, 2009 11:23 am

    That’s what I thought. I have used it with my sleds as well. Park at the gate and then skin from there. Even camped one year at the lakes and then skied the next day. Good fun.

  6. Lou March 18th, 2009 11:32 am

    I usually park before the Hay Park gate, at that small creek crossing with the bridge, down in the timber. There is a “No Snowmobiles” sign there and an old road cut leads into the woods.

  7. Conner March 18th, 2009 3:39 pm

    Wow! what beautiful pictures! That looked like a lot of fun- I’ve been to Aspen, but only to highlands, might consider this for a future vacation!

  8. Jared March 22nd, 2009 3:14 pm

    Wow, brings back memories. I skied Sopris 3 times while in high school. Bootpacked up the main bowl with my alpine gear each time and camped at Thomas Lakes. Has a sweet view from home in El Jebel. God I miss that mountain. . .

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