Trooper Traverse 2006 – Part Two

Post by blogger | May 16, 2006      
Backcountry skiing Colorado Mountains.
Camp in North Fork Lake Creek. Scott carried a small BD tent that worked well. Route crosses Continental Divide, via John Jay Pass on the ridge in the background. This was the evening that Mike’s Silvretta Pure binding broke, so we had some excitement doing field repairs. The weather had been unstable since day one, but we got a report via sat-phone that said it would stabilize tomorrow so we went to bed optimistic.

Backcountry skiing Colorado Mountains.
I’m cozy in a zero rated Marmot down sleeping bag, with BD Winter Bivy cover. The sky cleared that night and we had a low of 16 degrees F.

Backcountry skiing Colorado Mountains.
Louie heading up to the Continental Divide and John Jay Pass, Darling Pass in background.

Backcountry skiing Colorado Mountains.
David just below the pass, following his father’s footsteps 73 years later.

Backcountry skiing Colorado Mountains.
John Jay Pass is actually two passes. You go over the higher one, drop to the north, then follow a sort of “shelf” west to a ridge overlooking the Lost Man drainage. Thankfully this northerly snow was incredibly solid and safe, as Colorado snow around 13,000 feet can stay “winter-like” well into spring.

Backcountry skiing Colorado Mountains.
Group shot above Lost Man drainage, looking at Williams Mountains (which we’ll cross in a few hours). Incredible terrain everywhere, and you’re in the middle of it! The day was bluebird, as were the remainder to the end of our trip. If you’re going to get any crumby weather, it’s best to get it at the start of the journey and end the trip on a high note of blue sky. Excellent it worked out that way, though I was a bit undergunned as to sunscreen and got somewhat cooked. Turned out the 30-block I brought behaved more like 15 block (it was one of those sunscreens that’s more like moisturizer lotion than anything else, which I thought might be a good idea while planning for the trip. Woops.) Note, I’ve tried all sort of sun blocks and in my opinion the best for extreme spring skiing conditions is still Banana Boat Maximum SPF50. Wish I’d had it with me. SPF 50 might sound like a joke if you’re spending a few hours outside on a chairlift, but during a ski traverse you can spend 12 or more hours a day in bright reflected sunlight and need more than the normal protection.

Backcountry skiing Colorado Mountains.
Heading down Lost Man to the Williams, gliding on skis and making a few turns gets you a couple of miles along the route in just a few minutes. Beats hiking.

Backcountry skiing Colorado Mountains.
From the crest of the Williams Mountains you take a descent we call the Trooper Couloir. It’s a fantastic ski run that Louie appears to be enjoying.

Skiing the Trooper Couloir
Steve smiles in the Trooper Couloir.

Backcountry skiing Colorado Mountains.
Rest stop in Hunter Creek below Trooper Couloir. We’ll ski a few more miles down the valley and do a snow camp for our second to last night.

Check back tomorrow for Part Three, slogging Hunter Creek and luxury at the McNamara Hut.


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3 Responses to “Trooper Traverse 2006 – Part Two”

  1. Pat May 16th, 2006 8:33 am

    Way to go. Sure the gear is way better nowadays but a few more of these traverses and they might make you an honorary 10th Mtn Trooper.

  2. Mark Worley May 16th, 2006 10:14 am

    Drool… Got some nice photos of fine terrain. For some reason I only see the pictures after I click the Comments tab.


  3. Alyson Wilson May 16th, 2006 5:56 pm

    You guys covered a lot of ground! What great photos… and I like how you detailed your routes. Just surfing outdoor blogs and found yours… enjoyed hearing about what you’re doing. I’ll be back to check on what “wild snow” does with its summers!

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