Brown Snow Report – Central Colorado

Post by blogger | April 21, 2007      

We had another brown snow/rain a few days ago. These seem to come with more regularity than they used to, perhaps because of land in Utah stripped to bare dirt by wildfires or something like that. When these dust layers get covered up by fresh white snow they don’t create many problems in spring in terms of avalanches and such, but when exposed they act as a disappointingly efficient solar collector and hasten melt-off (not to mention making the snow look ugly and forming a rough surface due to uneven melting). We were out yesterday morning on another dawn patrol and got the shot shown below. Plans this weekend include something big but weather may intrude. Looks like we’re getting a dusting of snow today, so that’ll hide the brown for a few days. Stay tuned.

Backcountry skiing brown snow in Colorado.
This is what the snow looked like yesterday about around 10,500 feet elevation in central Colorado. It’s whiter above timberline where a more recent snowfall is hiding the dust layer. We still enjoyed the skiing, but this stuff can eventually wreck havoc.

Backcountry skiing in Colorado.
Our friend and backcountry skiing partner Jason yesterday morning. He wasn’t going to let a bit of brown dust interfere with the joy of skiing instead of being in highschool. Funny how these guys look at their watches at just the right time to say “hmmm, school is starting just about now.” Then they get a big grin, click in, and launch. Back in time for the math quiz though, the adults made sure of that.

Tuning backcountry skis.
We finishing our our ski tuner set up yesterday as well. Whipped out the base welder and used the big belt sander to get our rock-trashed skis ready for action. Only problem with this tool is we can’t figure out what to use it for when customizing our Jeep. I’m sure we’ll think of something.


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6 Responses to “Brown Snow Report – Central Colorado”

  1. wick April 22nd, 2007 8:27 pm

    The brown snow always seems to coincide with Jeep week in Moab…..coincidence? 🙂

  2. Lou April 23rd, 2007 5:12 am

    Interesting observation Wick! Let’s just be glad that paved roads and slickrock exist.

  3. Dave B. April 23rd, 2007 11:37 am

    During a trip into the Gore Range this weekend we found that pesky dust layer sitting on top. Hopefully it doesn’t shorten the season too much.

  4. Bruce April 25th, 2007 7:59 am

    An article in High Country News blames brown snow on grazing of desert grasslands.

    We just had another storm, and as I look up at Buffalo Mtn. in the Gore Range this morning, the new snow refused to stick to the brown crapola. Bummer!

  5. Kevin May 1st, 2009 1:26 pm


    I flew over the Rockies, on Wednesday and was amazed at the brown snow! Snowmass was completely covered in it as were many of the high peaks and timbered mountain sides. Other than solar degradation, should we be concerned about stability in the high country due to this dirt?


  6. Lori W April 26th, 2013 5:29 pm

    Has there been any samples been take for toxins or perhaps fungi?

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