The big mountain season in Colorado is well underway, and with Mayuary continuing across the western US, I figured it was time to make a trip out to my old stomping grounds in search of steep and deep powder. I was not disappointed.
I landed in DIA at 9:30 Thursday morning and was picked up by my old skiing buddies Jordan and Marc. We beelined it straight to the Ashcroft trailhead near Aspen and, after a wet hike in, were setting up camp before sunset. Our first night out there was filled with thunder and snow and our anticipation grew with every lightning strike.
Alarms went off at 4am the next morning, in the middle of a particularly heavy thunderstorm squall, so we decided to wait it out and were on the trail by 6am. Four inches of snow had accumulated at our camp at 11,500 feet overnight, and since our objective was well over 13,000 feet, we were stoked on the chance of getting her in pow. Once on the trail, it wasn’t long before we got a view of our objective, and it was glorious.
Once we were in the apron of the couloir we dug a quick pit to see how the new snow had bonded to the old, wet snow. Our test results showed a great bond between the new and old snow interface, which meant it was game on! The bootpack was close to waist deep at times, and we made sure to limit our exposure to the 15-20 foot cornice guarding the entrance to the couloir.
Once we were close to topping out on the couloir, the sun poked through the clouds and it’s intensity caused the walls of the couloir to start shedding the new snow. We decided that this was a good time to get off the mountain and changed over about 150 vertical feet below the top.
The chute was filled with smooth creamy pow, and was one of the better descents of my life – that was until we went skiing the next day.
We went back to camp filled with stoke and spent the rest of the day refueling and debating over which objective to go for the next morning. The decision was easy and at 5am the next morning, with three to four more inches of fresh blower pow, we were back on the trail to tick off the neighboring couloir to our descent the day before. This line was steeper, the snow was deeper, and the walls were bigger. All good things.
After a quick bootpack and steep top-out we were standing on top of the best run of my life. 2,000 vertical feet of steep and deep blower pow. It doesn’t get any better.
No words can describe the feeling after this descent. After gawking at our lines for a while we made our way back to camp and eventually hiked out and drove back to Boulder. The next morning we skied a Front Range classic, which we had skied many times before, but how could you pass up an opportunity to ski when the conditions are this good. Most of the country may have already transitioned to mountain bike and climbing season, but the big mountain skiing in Colorado will last until late July or August this summer if you’re looking to escape the summer heat.