The Marble Report – Colorado

Post by blogger | January 4, 2010      

The most recent Colorado storms that have failed to hit the Aspen area in any significant way have been very good to the Marble area (west of Aspen) with a snowpack measuring nearly 2 meters deep (how Euro of me). I made it up there for a couple days this weekend, but Saturday was the winner. We skied several laps, one towards Anthracite Creek and another down Marble bowl. Both proved to be more than worth the hike up. This is by far the best ski day of the year thus far. The crew had a little bit of Louie Dawson, a little bit of Jeff Jackson, a lot of Hudson the dog and myself. We didn’t get a very early start, showing up around 11 AM, there were quite a few familiar faces at the trailhead.

We made our way up to Marble Peak and the possibilities were endless. After a quick snowpit, a run down to Anthracite was decided on. Everyone enjoyed sipping on cold icy smoke from top to bottom. We skied about 1,500 vertical (that’s around 460 meters for those of you in the rest of the world) and it was time re-apply the fur. Heading up a ridge made for an extremely safe route back up and after some skin problems we made the top again. Getting late in the day, we opted for skiing Marble Bowl back to the truck. The pictures do most of the talking.

One note before we go on with the photos: Marble is a terrific place with lots of room if you’re willing to do an access climb then a few extra laps. But parking is limited. Always carpool, be ready to park in the town of Marble if necessary, and leave plenty of room on the road next to your parking so the quarry stone truck can get by. If you don’t leave enough room, you could ruin it for everyone by making the quarry’s job harder. They plow the road, so they call the shots. The stone truck driver is a backcountry skier, so say hi and ask him what his needs are. He’s a nice guy (Lou knows him).


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25 Responses to “The Marble Report – Colorado”

  1. Matt January 4th, 2010 4:35 pm

    Anything you do differently when skiing with a dog along?

  2. Nick January 4th, 2010 4:47 pm

    Nice shots Jordan, that one of Jeff especially. Good to see you up there, what a weekend that was indeed! Good of you to mention the parking issues. Not sure I’ve ever seen it so crowded along the road. Fortunately there was more than enough snow for everyone- I’ve never seen that much new snow up there before!

  3. Jordan January 4th, 2010 4:49 pm

    Hey Matt,
    You know I do most times. If I think that I am in sketchier terrain, he gets to adhere to the one at a time rule as well. On mellower terrain, its a great way to wear our a Lab with too much energy. He certainly doesn’t get a beacon if that is what you are referring to.

  4. Caleb Wray January 4th, 2010 4:50 pm


    I taught mine that the skin track is not a restroom first.

    I prefer they walk right behind me but not on my ski tails.

    And when skiing avy terrain I prefer they descend as if they are a group member. Skier 1 skis, then the dogs, then skier 2….Doesn’t always workout this way.

    I usually only take them out on shorter days and when my wife or someone else that knows them well is along. Otherwise it can mess up the fluidity of the day.

  5. Nick January 4th, 2010 5:24 pm

    I try to adhere to the one-at-a-time rule with my dog, but sometimes it’s hard to get her to not stop half way down and look back up. If my girlfriend (the dog’s true owner) is with us, then it usually works well.

    My roommate’s dog in college was a champ at the one-at-a-time thing. Guess I need to keep working at the training.

    Ditto on only taking the dog on mellow days with people who are cool with it. And ya, if it’s mellow terrain, skiing alongside the dog is a ton of fun. As long as they have a healthy fear of ski edges.

  6. Lou January 4th, 2010 5:35 pm

    And, dogs provide another use for the shovel?

  7. Ross Mailloux January 4th, 2010 7:56 pm

    I ski with my dog on almost all days I go out here in the Canadian Rockies. I got him a “roughwear” doggy harness which is good to pull him out of tree wells or hold him back while the first skier cuts a slope or skis down first. Good purchase and when he sees it come out in the morning he knows it play time!

  8. Jimbo January 4th, 2010 10:57 pm

    I wear a milkbone around my neck to backup my transceiver….

  9. Jack January 5th, 2010 12:40 am

    Meters, huh. How very Canuck of you, eh?

    Great POW!

  10. Chris January 5th, 2010 9:51 am

    I ski with my dog Charlie, but limit it to mellower days, when we don’t have a big itinerary or objectives committed to, and the avalanche hazard is in the lower 2/5ths of the scale. This is his first snow winter as well, so he’s still in training – that means I need to take time to work with him during the up and down. We’re still working on that “wait” and “come” commands to let me get a head start. If the stability forecast is too high for a skier and a dog at once on a slope, then I don’t bring Charlie because he doesn’t know to avoid trigger points.

  11. Matt January 5th, 2010 4:37 pm

    Jordan, the beacon was part of what I was referring to. A buddy of mine skis with his dog (and I went with them for the first time last week). He had heard about special “doggy beacons” that were on a different frequency. Seems they aren’t made any more though.

    Another idea was attaching long powder leashes to the dog, the straps that are supposed to mark your position on the surface if you get buried. A dog running around with one of those attached could be another safety hazard though.

  12. Lou January 5th, 2010 4:43 pm

    No beacons on dogs, please, unless it’s another frequency. Can you imagine digging up a dog first in a multiple burial, and having your human buddy die in the meantime? Reality bites. Dogs are great, but most people would rather dig up the human first.

    Full disclosure: I used to have a beacon on my dog way back when, can’t believe I did that, never thought it through, just though it was cool.

  13. Nick January 6th, 2010 10:14 am

    A friend of mine got a doggie beacon years ago, I think it was an Ortovox. The instructions were all in German and I think it had a catchy name like the Hund1 or something. We all thought it was really cool at first but then thought it through. It was on the same frequency as our beacons, so he got rid of it.

  14. Randonnee January 6th, 2010 11:28 am

    During our ride in an avalanche, I caught a glimpse of my black lab swimming with the avalanche and she seemed to be wagging her tail!

    Ditto to no beacon on a dog unless a different frequency. Anyway, my view and practice is that being caught has an extremely low probability if one uses good judgment and practice anyway. My beacon use is for the comfort of others in practice. I often solo ski on avalanche terrain, that requires clear judgment and safe practice, so all of the discussion of beacon shovel probe becomes irrelevant to the primacy of the go/ no go decision!

  15. Cameron Millard January 6th, 2010 12:37 pm

    Sorry guys, but I really disagree with skiing with dogs in the backcountry. Maybe some of you have good dogs, but nine times out of ten (and I’ve probably skied with dogs ten times total) they have been a total nightmare: getting lost, getting cut by skis, venturing into steeper terrain, fighting with other dogs, chasing wildlife, and so on. My friend’s dog disappeared in the mining district of Leadville a few years back, and we thought she had fallen into a mine shaft. Three hours later, in the pitch black, she turned up. As a result of these experiences, I have a “no dog” rule with my ski partners. They seem to get it and usually leave their dogs at home. Even a patroller friend’s avi dog has been more of a hindrance then a help in the backcountry. No judgments on what you all do, but remember the longtime avalanche forecaster who died in Alaska a few season’s ago. His dog had gotten stuck, and completely subverted the decision making process, leading to a fatality of an extremely experienced professional.

  16. bill January 7th, 2010 3:38 pm

    I solo BC ski with my dog as my only compainion. I have been thinking of strapping a becon to him. He often time is the first one down the slope. Would this be an ok way to locate him, in case he triggers an avi. Granted I do not solo ski areas with high avi danger.

  17. Nick January 8th, 2010 3:37 pm

    Bill, my only concern with that would be if you ran into other people involved in a rescue, or if you were buried and another group came to the rescue. Either way could cause some confusion. But if you’re out in the middle of nowhere by yourself, I don’t see why not, just as long as you understand the possible complications.

  18. ellen January 24th, 2010 4:57 pm

    I just heard that the marble quarry mine is shutting down in a few weeks. Does anyone know anything else about this?

  19. Lou January 24th, 2010 5:22 pm

    Yeah, they are quitting winter operations for a few months. That’ll mean the road will not be plowed past the residential areas near the start, not sure exactly where they’ll do a plow turnaround, we’ll see. This might actually be a good thing unless it’s forever, if it’s just a few months it could help inspire people to explore other terrain and thus spread the use out once the road is drivable again.

    Until it sidehills in, the road will of course be easily navigated by snowmobile, and it[s not that far just to ski or walk up there, though that’s not my preference!

  20. John January 29th, 2010 11:08 am

    Is it true, the quarry road is being closed today? I think there are a few houses about a mile up from the bridge. Anyhow I called a friend who supposedly owns some property off the quarry road but have not heard back.

  21. Lou January 29th, 2010 11:32 am

    Yeah, not sure today is the exact day but the Quarry is ceasing winter operations and will thus not be plowing the upper part of the road. Not sure if the county will gate the lower part or not. Pretty sure they do NOT have the right to just willly nilly gate it, nor do the property owners. If you guys find the road gated, be sure to call the Sheriff and find out what’s what. Also, when you do use the plowed portion of the road, be super careful how the parking is done or the Sheriff will have an excuse to gate the road and give only property owners the key.

    In terms of the skiing, this could be a good thing as it’ll inspire everyone to explore zones near the first part of the road. And the walk or snowmobile up the closed road won’t really be that bad. Though I do admit I’m glad I own a snowmobile (grin).

  22. Kimberley - Marble Quarry April 13th, 2010 5:21 pm

    This is Kimberley with the Marble Quarry…we are looking for recent (April 10 or later) information on the condition of the quarry road. How much snow still remaining. Is it passable on snowmobile? Your comments and assistance is greatly appreciated in our efforts to get the quarry re-opened. Thank you.

  23. josh streblow April 26th, 2010 5:40 pm

    Anyone know if the quarry rode is drivable?

  24. Lou April 26th, 2010 7:29 pm

    Josh, am pretty sure it is, and Woody’s is open…

  25. Lou April 27th, 2010 3:31 pm

    This just in:

    News regarding the quarry road.

    We went up today with the dodge and snowplow. Got to where the skiier parking is at Study Plot. Snow is too deep for us to plow further, but is driveable 4-wheel drive to the skier parking at Study Plot.
    Quarry will be opening the road to the gate this week.

    Kimberley Perrin
    Colorado Stone Quarries

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