19th! Independence Pass Ski & Barbecue Report – May 12-13, 2012

Post by WildSnow.com blogger | May 13, 2012      
Lou and his new Nomex Dynafit shell.

Lou and his new Nomex Dynafit shell — high altitude burger flipping has never been this safe.

Backcountry skiing on Independence Pass, Colorado is better then we expected the severe drought winter to provide. A bit more walking on dirt than normal, but this in places that are only “access” trails anyway. Quite a few of the good skiing lines are in, only most are narrower and some not starting from normal high points. Some lines are not in. I’d predict it is not going to last much longer — a few more days unless we receive more cold weather and perhaps snowfall. Facet piles lurk everywhere so if temperatures warm be careful of your slope angles and sun exposures. Snowpack was quite supportive this weekend, not sure how much of that was “eggshell effect” from the cold night before. Perhaps we’ll find out over the next few days.

On East Geissler (1) Independence Pass area, Colorado. Looking easterly, Blue (Twining) peak to right

Lisa Dawson on East Geissler (1) this past Saturday, Independence Pass area, Colorado. Looking easterly, Blue (Twining) peak to right. DOT reports the snowpack up here is ‘zero percent of normal.’ Definitely thin, but not zed. Click to enlarge.

Wildsnow Girl on Geissler Zero (Continental Divide east of Lost Man Pass, Independence Pass area, Colorado.

Yesterday, Wildsnow Girl on Geissler Zero (Continental Divide east of Lost Man Pass, Independence Pass area, Colorado. She’s testing Black Diamond Element skis for our upcoming Ultimate Quiver ski review.

We BBQ’d as well. As expected, not a whole lot of people ski touring. Saturday, we hung out at the trailhead with about a dozen worthy souls who were rewarded with burgers.

Well, the skiing was good Saturday and so was the trailhead barbecue BBQ, so we headed back up there yesterday (Sunday) and did a repeat since we had plenty of burger patties, buns and cooker fuel left over from Saturday. Much to our surprise, more people showed up and we had quite a soiree.

What struck me about everyone, is what a wonderful, friendly and interesting bunch of people our Colorado backcountry skiing devotees are, and how appreciative of what we’ve got.

We do have it good around here in central Colorado. Not too crowded, zillions of acres of legal Wilderness where we are the privileged ones allowed to go there with our chosen mode of transport, and a wonderful springtime corn snow season nearly every year due to our high altitudes. While winter access to non-resort high country is indeed limited, once our passes and highcountry become more accessible in spring we have an amazing window of opportunity, sometimes for up to 8 weeks, when the quality of our backcountry skiing experience rivals that of anywhere in the world.

The informal springtime BBQ barbecue on Independence Pass is becoming quite the tradition. Looking forward to next year!


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10 Responses to “19th! Independence Pass Ski & Barbecue Report – May 12-13, 2012”

  1. Rob May 12th, 2012 11:27 pm

    Did not know it was open, thanks !

  2. Caleb Wray May 13th, 2012 12:17 pm


    If there is snow how is it zero percent of normal? Joel (and NOAA) tell me it is more like 30% of normal.

  3. Caleb Wray May 13th, 2012 12:33 pm
  4. Pete Anzalone May 13th, 2012 2:38 pm

    Thanks for the fine party on the pass! It was nice seeing you both and the skiing was pretty good too.

  5. Mike Kelly May 13th, 2012 8:29 pm

    Skiied Mountain Boy this morning @9:30. Very nice off the top after the cloud burned off. Quite firm on the skiers right traverse to the chutes at the bottom after a good freeze. Minor walking. As Lou said, this won’t last long.

  6. Lou May 14th, 2012 4:29 am

    Pete, thanks for showing up, we really enjoyed spending time with all our local friends and new friends. All the traveling we’ve been doing is great, but we love our home mountains and friendly Colorado backcountry skiers!

    Yeah Mike, Geisslers were good Sunday morning as well, but I heard the corn had matured better on the more easterly stuff in Mountain Boy. By this morning I’d imagine everything but the northerly exposures will be nearly perfect. Then, for the rest of the week who knows?

    Surprisingly good this weekend.

  7. Lou May 14th, 2012 6:01 am

    Caleb, I think a CDOT guy was just over stating the case, and I riffed on it. Or, I think he could have been referencing one of the Snowtell sites where any other year there would be a snowpack on the ground under the sensors, and with none there this year it was indeed “zero percent of normal.”

    But it’s indeed very thin everywhere, I think even calling it 13% is generous. I suppose it could get to “zero percent of normal” using whatever math they use to figure that out, but wouldn’t that be no snow at all, anywhere?

  8. Njord May 14th, 2012 11:23 am

    Hard to call it “Wilderness” when you drive your truck up a highway to get to skiing…

  9. Lou May 14th, 2012 12:05 pm

    The skiing was some distance from the truck… we should have used a helicopter (grin).

  10. Tim McCarn May 16th, 2012 9:03 am

    Lou & Lisa ( Wildsnow Girl),

    I was glad I made the trip up Saturday even though I didn’t ski. Thanks for all the great advice and information on where to ski Indy Pass and also the great info Lisa gave me on where to eat in Glenwood Springs. The Pullman was great. I going to try to get up to Independence Pass this Sunday. This time I will ski.

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