This past weekend we did a bit of exploring in the West Elk Mountains of Colorado. I’d always wanted to visit a certain monster avalanche path that went huge a few years ago, so off we went. Goal was to tour up past the path to a friend’s cabin, then recon a new ski route we could use on a powder day. The trip was wet, with bottomless sugar snow at the lower elevations but a few decent powder turns up high. Mostly, we enjoyed the surreal environs of nature’s power. A few photos from the trek.
|It’s always interesting to visit the monster avy runouts of Colorado. The avlanche cycle that cleared these trees a few years ago mowed down large patches of mature forest all over this part of Colorado. Living around here long enough to see these things happen over and over again gives one an interesting point of view. Humbling, for starters, and a different take on logging.|
|Looking up the path. This monster drops about 3,000 vertical and gains energy as it falls over cliffs, but the slide crashes to a halt in a sort of gigantic pit formed by terrain features. The wind blast alone would probably kill you if you were this close when it ran big. Sort of like a roadside bomb in Iraq. Seriously.|
|Out of curiosity we measured the path’s alpha angle from the fringe of the runout, sure enough, just over 22 degrees. Interesting how the laws of physics tend to stand (in Colorado, the point at the bottom of the avy path where the path averages about 22 degrees is usually as far as the avalanche will run). You tend to think things this big make their own laws, but no, they are just as subject as we are.|
|Where to now? I think Earth First should do something about this logging!|
|At our friend’s cabin, the question in view of the monster avalanche: which book first (or last)? And perhaps a card game instead of skiing?|
|The snow fell wet on our shoulders, collapsed beneath our skis, and even iced our skins. Since when is snow so unfriendly?|
|While we did get some good skiing on the way down, the last 900 vert or so involved breaking trail downhill through knee deep slush. The cheer is not for the tracks, it’s for the tour being over. Louie was glad he had the fat BD Verdicts, but even those sank like a steel 2×4 when the muck was at its worst. The day was a good test of our shell clothing. Cloudveil Serendipity jacket worked well, but when it rained I did throw on my hard shell. In all a fun day — but not exactly a segment for a TGR movie.|