Taste Testing the Brown Corn Crop

Post by WildSnow.com blogger | May 22, 2009      
Pearl Mountain

Pearl Mountain

It’s not skiing, it’s snirting. The new sport. Just find a place to dunk your skis afterward, and get ready to max the washing machine once you’re home. But a day in the mountains, no matter how close to a laundry soap commercial it gets, is still a day in the mountains. So yesterday myself, Nick Thompson and Dave Downing ended up skiing what I call the Teeny Couloir (left) on West Pearl Mountain. But not before a small detour as well as a pastry alert — and yes, muddy snow that’s coming to be known as ‘snirt.’ Check it out.

 Dynafit Freeride
Nearing the summit ridge on West Pearl Mountain, 13,312 feet. The day was misty, the snow was dirty, and the camera loved every minute of it. I loved 80% of it, but the lower elevation snirt (snow dirt) was not exactly the ultimate. Click image for massive enlargement.

Backcountry Skiing

Last spring my wife Lisa sussed out the only bakery within 75 miles that's open in the wee hours. Louie's (no relation, other than in spirit) Swiss Pastries unlocks their door around 4:00 AM, and serves whatever is cooling from the ovens. Today's freshies happened to be some kind of rhubarb confection that stunned Nick, a jalapeno sausage rig that silenced Dave, and bearclaws which carbo loaded me perfectly. Louie's has an espresso machine, and takes credit cards. They're located in the Airport Business Center across from the Aspen Airport. Google map below shows location. Tell 'em WildSnow sent you.

View Larger Map

Backcountry Skiing

Here is where the day got weird, but only for a moment. I'd forgotten that though Independence Pass opened today, they were unlocking the gate in the afternoon, not the morning. So we ended up skunked for the Pass. We figured Dave might be able to chew through the lock, but no luck.

Plan B, head for the highest drive we could think of, which was the Pearl Pass 4x4 road at the end of Castle Creek, above Aspen. Access there is really quite good -- you can be on top of a 13,000 foot peak in three or four hours. We picked West Pearl Mountain, and skied a nice route off the summit I call the 'Left Teeny Couloir' after Kristyne 'Teeny' H. Jeung, who died in a nearby avalanche many years ago.

 Dynafit Freeride
Another shot from the summit ridge on Pearl Mountain. I loved the light and the snow colors. I’m always glad Dave has that red Cloudveil jacket. Click image for massive enlargement.
Backcountry Skiing

Yours truly starts down Left Teeny Couloir. I'd just cell phoned my mother in Crested Butte, a few miles southwest of us (everyone should phone their mother whenever possible, right?) 'It's raining hard here,

Backcountry Skiing

Nick is a core Telluride telewhacker, but he's on Dynafits now. Even so, interesting how his leg drops back and flexes that Scarpa Magic boot for everything it's worth. Quite dynamic there Mister Thompson!

Backcountry Skiing

Is he water skiing a muddy reservoir? Only Dave knows for sure. And yes, the snirt was heinous. Nick Thompson photo.

Washing skis

They don't teach you this in the Solomon ski tech certification class, but it works. Snirt? No problem. Just place skis in crystal clear mountain creek for a good washing. Dynafit warranty department, you didn't see this.

In all, a fun day, but the snirt is only good in small doses. We might get a coating of fresh here in central Colorado tonight, above timberline will be best. Hit the passes. Loveland, Indy, Berthoud. And be ready to activate your washing machine.

West Pearl Mountain

West Pearl Mountain with cleaner snow, dots show Left Teeny Couloir.

Check out West Pearl Mountain on the Google Map below.
[gmap name=’mymap’ lat=’38.985150′ lng=’-106.844444′ zoom=’13’ maptype=’g_hybrid_map’ desc=’West Pearl Mountain’ width=’525′]


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16 Responses to “Taste Testing the Brown Corn Crop”

  1. Njord May 22nd, 2009 9:22 am

    Looks horrible… glad I stayed at the office yesterday!

  2. Billzabub May 22nd, 2009 9:56 am

    looks horrible….wish I was there snirting and not at the office !@!!!

  3. nick May 22nd, 2009 10:10 am

    nice shots of dave on the ridge, lou. that was fun day, glad we salvaged it after the locked gate troubles. looks like i need to remember to get that uphill ski forward, but it feels so backwards 😉

  4. PARACHUTETHEDOG May 22nd, 2009 10:30 am

    Billzabub & I were up last week at Mt Justice = same “snirt” stuff up there too. it’s taking over the planet!

  5. Christian May 22nd, 2009 11:41 am

    Skied that line on the 26th of April, very windy, but with great powder up top and corn in the apron. A lot has melted since.

    Here’s a pic of Katie Jones on that day which shows the line head on:


    Now we have to rally to get the FS to open Lincoln Creek Rd.

  6. Rob May 22nd, 2009 1:48 pm

    DId you notice if the Tagert/Green-Wilson “backyard run” is still in? Anything left on Mace Pk? Going to be up there for the weekend and am worried about running out of very close options.

  7. pete anzalone May 22nd, 2009 1:53 pm

    Driving thru Summit County last weekend, the snow looked pretty good and more plentiful – at least from I70. Anyone know for certain?

  8. Andy_L May 22nd, 2009 2:05 pm

    Hey Lou,

    This is your first TR all season where I didn’t feel any twinge of envy! I’m thinking mud skiing is only going to be good if you bring some ladies along…and they wrestle afterward. 🙂

  9. Lou May 22nd, 2009 3:36 pm

    Ah, come on Andy, even the worst day of skiing is better than the best day of mud wrestling. But yeah, come to think of it, what if the skiing IS mud wrestling? I’ll have to think about that one. Perhaps Dave and I were wearing the wrong outfits.

    Saving grace is that we got snow last night and skied nice white powder this morning up on Independence Pass.

    Rob, the photo of Dave is taken on the Mace Chalet backyard run (the one you graduate to after skiing laps on the Green/Wilson one.) Both are in, but were brown. They should be white down to timberline for a few days now. One last hit. Better get up there!

    Pete, yeah, the farther east and north you get the better the snow. Indy is even less brown than the stuff near Crested Butte. San Juans are horrendous.

  10. Mike May 23rd, 2009 9:48 am

    I think Njord should be banned for life for his comment!

  11. dave downing May 23rd, 2009 11:03 am

    2nd that 🙂

  12. Brandon May 23rd, 2009 8:47 pm

    Just some food for thought….I know there’s been ongoing research about “Snirt” lately, and it’s implications for water supplies since it causes snow to melt faster with the increased albedo factor. A recent article (High Noon, 05/04) in High Country News regarding large-scale solar development on California’s Mojave Desert made me think about how this could also add to the dust that’s being carried by the wind and deposited on mountain snow. These type of developments will potentially clear large desert areas of their vegetation thereby leading to increased disturbances of fragile desert soils and increases in air borne dust…..

    link to HCN article: http://www.hcn.org/issues/41.8/high-noon
    link to article on Snirt: http://www.fseee.org/forestmag/1001best.shtml

    Lou, have you noticed Snirt more frequently in recent years?

  13. Mark W May 23rd, 2009 9:41 pm

    Mud or not, it looks good to me!

  14. Lou May 24th, 2009 9:22 am

    Brandon, thanks for the thoughts and links. Very good stuff! One strong opinion I’ve heard is that we’re finally seeing drastic effect from a century or more of over grazing. But I have to wonder if the virtually unregulated mania of ATV use in the southwest is a big contributor. Of course, a lot of people want to just blame global warming and leave it at that!

  15. Rob May 25th, 2009 9:36 pm

    Lou, your snirt report sure kept the hordes out of Castle Creek this weekend. Thanks. We had it to ourselves and two of us got a summit descent of Castle’s east face in 4-8 inch powder conditions this morning. What an incredible line –even for a couple of knuckle-dragging telemarkers.

  16. Evan May 27th, 2009 10:35 pm

    After a few incredible trips to the Elk Range last spring, myself and my front range weekend warrior buds couldn’t help but to take a few days off work and treat ourselved to a long weekend forray into the Elks. Two weekends ago we walked past West pearl mtn to lap Pearl mtn, then over to a great descent of Mace Pk back to(a little below) Tagert hut. After last year, It seems less than likely that the front range has better snow than the Elks.

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