Jet Lagged on Mount Sopris — But it was Good

Post by blogger | March 28, 2007      

Summited and skied our home mountain a few days ago. Myself and two boys just back from Europe. The young men were real troopers, doing the deed while still jet lagged and not acclimated. Nine hours car-to-car, 5,000 vertical feet, too many miles… But better than the best day at school, as the saying goes.

Mount Sopris backcountry skiing
We found quite a bit of excellent skiing, though it required a few hours of slogging to connect everything. This is the easterly side of Bull Saddle, a lesser traveled area on the mountain.

Mount Sopris backcountry skiing
Mount Sopris, Colorado as it appears from the early spring trailhead (the central and right summit are actually the same height). LONG walk. I’d still use a snowmobile if possible. Next time. But slogs build character, right? If so, does that mean I should have ascended to the seventh plane of enlightenment by now? Perhaps slogs are over rated.

Mount Sopris backcountry skiing
Jason’s photographic interpretation of the approach march. We’re a couple hours in and the peak still dances in the distance like a mirage.

Mount Sopris backcountry skiing
I always feel better above timberline. Did Jason? We cut a tight set of switchbacks to avoid touching a possible slab on the last pitch to the lower East Summit. From there we continue to one of the twin main summits.

Mount Sopris backcountry skiing
Once past the lower East Summit you enjoy this view of the “YinYang” ridge. I’ve gotten a ton of great photos here so figured it was Jason’s turn and skied ahead to model my fine form.

Mount Sopris backcountry skiing
Near the main summit, after a short downclimb from the East Summit. As always, we’re practicing fanatical avalalanche avoidence so during the climb up we’ve used ridges to pass any steeper terrain where delayed action slabs might lurk.

Mount Sopris backcountry skiing
This is your pilot, we are now approaching 13,000 feet, feel the altitude yet? It’s 1:00 AM in France and we’ll be landing in two hours, enjoy your flight…

Mount Sopris backcountry skiing
We tried a new (for us) way off the summit by skiing the huge southerly slopes you can see from up the Crystal valley. Before dropping too low we then traversed to Bull Saddle, where terrain features and slope angles allow avalanche safe skiing off the ridge into the forest below. From there we slogged out a rather lengthy snowmobile trail (the Hay Park route) that took us back to our morning approach route.

Mount Sopris backcountry skiing
Our crew. Mountains make us feel good. Really.


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6 Responses to “Jet Lagged on Mount Sopris — But it was Good”

  1. adam olson March 28th, 2007 5:53 am

    skiied the Sopris yesterday. We could see your skin track from the lake. I wondered were you guys came down. How is the coverage on the back side? I have for years now have wanted to ski the entire south face to Avalanche creek. Its probable too late this year. We skiied in the main Bowl below the East summit. The conditions were great to about 12,000. The upper elevations are still harboring quite a bit of winter condition. We turned around Just below the steep headwall. A thin breakable crust on the N aspect above 11,500 will be a lingering problem. Conversely all S aspects were slush, and easily touched off. We found some great corn right down the middle of the bowl. Dodging the scree as we went. Also had a guest in town for the ski, so walking the road from the crown was our right of passage that day. Next time (next week) the Yamaha shuttle will be in action!


  2. Lou March 28th, 2007 6:23 am

    Hi Adam, the coverage on the back was better than I expected. The way to do it is just ski the good upper part then skin back up to Bull Saddle. I’ve done the descent to Avalanche Creek once. It was epic, and not in a good way. The terrain back there is weird. All the drains slant the wrong way and there are cliffs, waterfalls, etc.

    We’re ready for the Yamaha shuttle (grin).

  3. Sky March 28th, 2007 10:49 am

    Good one, Lou. I always feel better above timberline, too.

  4. Chad March 28th, 2007 1:10 pm

    Nice Work! I have been gazing up at Sopris from my Apt window on 2nd st. since I arrived in Carbondale this August. I have been chomping at the bit to ski it this year, and from the photos it looks primed. Where is the best place to access the trailhead for a spring descent? And, how long was that slog?

    I’m also looking for people to get some spring descents in with this year. I don’t know to many people in town, so my BC trips have dwindled(insert frown here). If anyone is willing to take a chance on an unknown, I would love to tag along on some trips.


  5. Craig March 28th, 2007 5:06 pm

    Lou, do I remember correctly that epic decent off the back side down into the valley?. I believe we were young and spry and (with Mr. Barlow in the lead) thought it would take us directly down to the hot springs in the valley below, we could even see a light at one of the houses on the road and used it as a beacon.
    But behold, instead it took us until past dark to get down out of those reverse gullys and around the waterfalls. Not a recomended decent unless one is ready to slog, slog, slog.

  6. Lou April 1st, 2007 8:10 am

    Hi Craig, yeah, I recall we got trapped up there above an ice waterfall and had to bivvy, then finish the descent the next morning. It was epic, and amazing we didn’t just walk off a cliff. Not a recommended route!

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