Backcountry Skiing in Colorado

Skiing and Hiking in the Colorado Backcountry


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Cross Couloir, Mt. Of the Holy Cross (14,005′)

 

Mt. of the Holy Cross smiles, as if to say "you're welcome."

Mt. of the Holy Cross smiles, as if to say “you’re welcome.”

We all have those goals in life that just seem like they’re never going to materialize.  We try and try, yet something always finds a way to thwart our best laid plans.  Then, one day, the clouds part and you see your goal in front of you in all its glory.  For the first time it appears totally attainable and that attainment unfolds almost effortlessly.  For me, this scenario describes my relationship with Mt. of the Holy Cross to a T.

For 5 years I’ve wanted to ski this mountain but it never quite worked out.  No partner…road closed…bad snow year…. and then last year I finally made it to the base of the elusive couloir… only to be shut down in the worst way.

But this year would be different, very different.

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Portillo, Incredible Portillo

 

Pretty much every skier in North America knows that when the snow melts, and summer arrives it’s time to shift gears.  The mountain bikes come out, the trail running shoes go on and we go about our summer.  Yet, in the back of our minds we all know that somewhere down south… way down south, it’s winter, and winter means skiing.  Some of us have a harder time than others shifting gears.  Before last summer I had skied 32 months straight, until the Colorado drought put a stop to that.  This summer I knew I would need something more than skiing dirty snow on St. Mary’s glacier.  So a year ago, I booked a trip to Portillo, Chile, with my friend Marcus.  What followed was an incredible, life-changing experience which I will never forget. Continue reading


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La Plata, Eric’s First 14er

La Plata… ain’t she a beaut?

It was another 1am departure as Eric Internicola and I left Denver to try and tackle La Plata Peak (14, 336′) on June 3rd.  This would mark my 32nd straight month skiing and for Eric, this would be his first attempt at both a 14er climb, let alone a ski descent.  Needless to say he was pretty pumped, but I could tell Eric was concerned about his fitness.  Eric would be the first to tell you he was moving slowly on our attempt at Notch Top which turned into a descent on Dragontail.  Although I think it was more the weather than Eric’s pace that led to a plan B descent, I know Eric did not want to keep us from summiting La Plata, and I was sure he was up for the challenge. Continue reading


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Mt. Elbert (14,433′), The Top of Colorado!

On May 28th Jon Jay and I set out for an early morning assault toward a thin Box Creek Cirque on Mt. Elbert.  I climbed Mt. Massive over 5 years ago and have wanted to get after Elbert for a while now.  However, I figured if I was going to climb it, I’d rather get a good ski in as well.  I’d just been waiting for the right time and Jon was down for the trip… it was on! Continue reading


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Scary ride on Mt. Yale – 5/17/2010

I feel pretty lucky to be sitting here typing this trip report today.  Yesterday, Jon Jay and I had a pretty scary experience on our tour of Mt. Yale.

Yale is a haul at 14,196 it begs an early start.   I left Denver at 3am to meet up with Jon at the Silver Creek trailhead outside of Buena Vista.  Jon had done some touring the day before and camped out that night with a few others while I opted to sleep in my warm bed and meet him in the morning.

We set off for the 10 mile round trip a little after 7am.  Our start was a little later than planned, but we weren’t too worried since the Silver Creek bowl on Mt. Yale faces north, and we figured the snow would remain cool most of the day.   The plan was to summit by noon, ski the bowl and be back to the trailhead by 3pm.  Needless to say, things did not go as planned. Continue reading