Mount Sopris Backcountry Skiing – Spring 2005

Post by blogger | April 22, 2005      

Louie and I just returned from today’s climb and backcountry ski of Mount Sopris, our "home mountain" that rises southeast of our town, towering above the Roaring Fork and Crystal River valleys like something transplanted from a much greater range. Return on investment during a Sopris ski climb is usually not that great. Instead, you do it because it’s there, in your face, every day of the year.

Backcountry skiing  on Mount  Sopris.
We found a "mini chute" that entered Thomas Lakes Bowl from the Sopris summit. Things mellowed out below here, with big terrain that was perfect for cranking lots of energetic turns.

Days of skiing on Sopris frequently start with a mud slog on the snow closed Dinkle Lake Road, then you’ve got a few thousand verts of forest that sometimes involves dirt walking. Above timberline it gets better, with Thomas Lakes Bowl providing a classic corn run, and the Crystal Chute yielding a 3,000 vertical foot couloir shot when you can get it.

Backcountry skiing, Mount Sopris summit.
The team at Sopris summit — hi Mom!

But today was different — Sopris was as good as it could ever be. We skied almost every inch of the 4,000 vertical foot descent, including some nice lower altitude tree skiing in an area of open aspens that I’ve been trying to get figured out over the years. Even the road walking was on snow, with a glide back down to the car. The snow was totally avalanche safe "powder on corn" that made for fun and energetic turning. It’s been an incredibly cold spring so far in Colorado, and though we’ve not had a lot of new snow, what we do have has not been melting, so it’s getting to be a thick dense snowpack that extends fairly low in elevation. This is the perfect setup for Colorado’s big peaks, as you end up with a "little less walk and a lot more action.

Mount Sopris features and routes viewed from east.

Mount Sopris features and routes viewed from east. Sorry about poor quality of image, on the list for a re-do.


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8 Responses to “Mount Sopris Backcountry Skiing – Spring 2005”

  1. Mike Marolt April 13th, 2013 1:20 pm

    I’d put the crystal face as one of the best lines around.

  2. Lou Dawson April 13th, 2013 2:20 pm

    Hi Mike, how did you land on this old post? Fun to look… I did a bit of editing and fixed the photo links. Lou

  3. Scott Nelson May 12th, 2013 6:21 pm

    I was thinking of heading up there, so I just googled ‘ski mt sopris’ for fun, got a couple hits back of “vintage” wildsnow posts…

  4. Lou Dawson May 12th, 2013 6:24 pm

    He he, cool old stuff. We were bloggers back when blogging, was, what?

  5. Scott January 5th, 2015 4:21 pm

    How is Mt Sopris looking this winter? I am thinking of skiing the NE ridge on MLK weekend and wondered if you had any updates on conditions as I live in Denver.

  6. Dave April 8th, 2015 9:55 am

    Bumping old post cos this seems as good a place as any to ask…..

    Lou or others,
    Any beta on current conditions up on Sopris (April 2015).

    Also while I have the Dawson bible, Colorado Backcountry Skiing vol 1 any plans to complete the online porting to since certain chapters (Sopris included) noticeably absent?

  7. Lou Dawson 2 April 8th, 2015 10:05 am

    Hi Dave, I’ve actually been doing some work on the guidebook website. At the least, I’ll have all the text from the book ported to the site within the next few weeks. Will add in photos and maps as time permits. I’ll see if I can do the Sopris part sooner than later. Thanks for the prodding.

    As for beta, I heard you can drive to the summer trailhead and that the snow is surprisingly present from there to the summit. I’ve been out quite a bit at our timberline haunts and have found perfect corn. I’m told there is some wind stuff and crust up high, but still skiable. The main thing is we don’t have any DUST! Now is the time.


  8. Lou Dawson 2 April 8th, 2015 12:44 pm

    Dave, I made the Sopris text visible, needs some editing but it’s there. Will try to throw in a few photos soon. Thanks for your interest. Lou

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