Editor’s note: A few weeks ago my teenage son and his friend Jason were my partners on a Colorado backcountry skiing mission near Aspen. We headed out to enjoy some of our amazing early season goods, and returned with large smiles. I filed a ski touring trip report back then, but this came through the mail slot recently from Jason and looked like a fun article to share.
We pull up in the truck about 9 a.m. All of us get out our packs and end up checking our gear a few times. On the first day of skiing, that deep gut feeling that you have forgotten something important is always there. As we finish pack checks Lou pulls out hunter’s orange for us to put on the packs. This reminds me, it’s only mid October. Getting off to an early start this year. Gonna go P-tex scrape our way down the mountain on the first thin snow of the season, at least that’s what passes through my mind.
We hike up the road past Pearl Pass turnoff and on up into Montezuma Basin. The switchbacks get me breathing pretty good. It’s tough to start out up at 12,000 – 13,000 feet this early in the year. We get to where we can see the Montezuma face and it’s completely virgin. I think I feel some drooling startingâ€¦ As I salivate over this beautiful sight, my mind is gone; here we are in the middle of October and we are headed up to ski virgin snowâ€¦ probably rocky but hey, it’s virgin snow. I had forgotten what that looked like.
Louie and I stop to grab a quick bite at the base of the slope and have to catch up to Lou who is already cruising up and isn’t even thinking about his knee surgery this summer. All that’s passing through his mind is getting the first tracks of the season. We head up to the top and the skins are whipped off and we’re ready to go. Standing at the top of something that beautiful gets anyone’s heart going. Looking across at the peaks freshly dusted in whiteness and fading down into the green valley is breathtaking.
|First turns of the season. Montezuma basin, Colorado.|
Lou skis down and slices across the fresh powder and across the lip. Nothing budges. No sound of skis hitting rocks. I forgot, this is a permanent summer snowfield that’s been getting coated with new snow for the last few weeks. No chance of rocks being here. Louie takes off. From the top all I see is his trail of powder dust. I’m shaking now. All I hear the whole way down is “YEAH!, WOOOHOOO”. I see him at the bottom and so it’s my turn. Shaking a little I head on down over the roll and make my first tracks of the season in knee deep powder. Lou comes down; some more whooping and hollering, and we skin up for one more run to finish off the day. Six sets of tracks are left as we head out. Beautiful way to start out the season, couldn’t have gone any better.