Skiing French Mountain Colorado 1980 — Throwback Thursday

Post by blogger | August 27, 2015      

I was organizing the new WildSnow office and ran across these images from early days of Colorado big mountain skiing.

1980 in the Colorado Sawatch mountains: Bruce Adams and I backcountry skiing on French Mountain, 13,940 foot “centennial peak.”

Bruce Adams on French Mountain west face, Colorado, 1980.

Bruce Adams on French Mountain west face, Colorado, 1980.

Bruce on one of the steeper sections. In those days we did crazy little hop turns on 189 cm skinny sticks about 60 mm wide.

Bruce on one of the steeper sections. In those days we did crazy little hop turns on 180 cm skinny sticks about 70 mm wide.

I’m thinking this was probably the first ski descent of French Mountain (13,940) if not from the summit then our route on west face most certainly. Steep by the standards of those days, a few sections just over 45 degrees, but easy for today’s ski mountaineers. That spring of 1980 spring we had about 30 consecutive days of clear-cold nights and beautiful bluebird mornings. I skied 30 high Colorado peaks in 30 days, definitely a personal best that’s now a sweet memory!


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8 Responses to “Skiing French Mountain Colorado 1980 — Throwback Thursday”

  1. Scott Nelson August 27th, 2015 11:51 am

    You know, one of these nice Spring days we should do a retro ski, using straight skis at least.

  2. Thom Mackris August 27th, 2015 5:34 pm

    That’s like my promise to myself to go “retro” and rack up for a climb with only stoppers & hexes 🙂

    Haven’t done it yet, but I should.


  3. Lou Dawson 2 August 27th, 2015 6:04 pm

    Thom, stoppers and hexes are for wimps, try racking up with only pitons and a big hammer! (grin) Lou

  4. Kristian August 27th, 2015 8:30 pm

    Started young In the 60’s and loved the singing sound of driving pins. Switched to passive protection, but still carry a couple of unused titanium pins on Alpine Winter routes. And I still do hop turns in couloirs.

  5. OMR August 28th, 2015 8:51 am

    Once a year (or two) I try to get out on my old Merrill Super Doubles and skinny (60mm) Tuas. Fun for a few hours but then I start asking why? Takes another year or two to try them again. Evolution is a good thing.

  6. Thom Mackris August 28th, 2015 11:01 am

    And the humbling part of all of this is that we realize that it’s the gear that’s getting better and not us. At my age, I’m ok with that. I’m also ok with a pedal turn or two for that matter 😉

    Lou – never went totally old school (pins & hammers), although I’ve clipped into some very suspicious looking fixed pins.


  7. Dillon August 28th, 2015 12:51 pm

    Nice Lou. Love these old pics and write-ups.

  8. Mike Marolt August 28th, 2015 1:14 pm

    Good point Lou. Ha, 45 degrees on backcountry gear not so long ago was pretty amazing. The days of wondering if the boots and skis would hold on steep and or hard snow are gone, thank God. As are the days of lugging heavy gear. Silvretta or worse, Marker, or Petzl bindings mounted on what amounted to light(er) rental skis with fancy extreme top skins made for a lot of questions in the back of your mind. I posted a blog over at on the gear I used on Shishapangma in 2000. I honestly can’t believe we were able to carry it, and then not get ourselves killed in the process of skiing down on that crap. haha. Then I think about some of the stuff you skied on, and even further back, what Fritz skied Cho on in the 60’s, and even further back, what Roach skied Kamet on in the 30’s. It’s crazy to think about the pull of “skiing” big mountains. Also, did you ever think 20 years ago you would be out still climbing and skiing peaks post 50?! I sure as heck didn’t. haha.

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