Monarch, CO Conditions Report: Caught in the Clouds

Jon Roubik | | Conditions ReportConditions Report
Pretty good for a 4″ pow day! Photo: Monarch Mountain

*Report from Feb. 23, 2019.

My alternator inconveniently died en route to Telluride, about a mile from the summit of Monarch Pass Friday night.  My heart sank right along with my voltage gauge. The roads were an icy mess; cars were flipped, in ditches, spun out everywhere. A lot of people needed help that night, and so it wasn’t going to come quick for us, if at all.

After nearly two hours of going nowhere, we used what little juice we had to essentially coast into the Monarch Ski Area lot. It was only about a mile downhill from where we broke down, so we decided to get off the highway, hang for the night and resolve the situation in the morning. It was a cold night, but fortunately we were prepared. The car turned over again in the morning and held a charge… weird.

The morning report showed 4″ of new snow in the past 24 hours and 8°F at the base. The quality of the new snow was excellent, but there was definitely an underlying base.

First lap was up Breezeway and through the Bs-Bash trees. The manner in which the wind whipped the snow in there made some extra, fun little features to play with on the way down to Panorama.

The trees under the Pano lift were untracked and just wide/deep enough to carry some speed while still having confidence in ability to place the next turn. Mirage, JR’s and High-Anxiety all rode true to the morning’s report.

From the base, sun was starting to shine through and it looked like the clouds were going to break. At the top, there was another story. The Monarch cloud was sitting firm and showed no sign of departure.

Mirkwood Bowl opened a little after 10:00AM. The 10-15 minute hike led to some excellent turns in Mirkwood proper, following only a few others. This area rode more like 8″, especially at the top, but if you leaned hard into a turn the bottom was there to be found.

We went back for three more hikes, working our way down the ridge. There were some spots that had obviously not been ridden since the last storm, sitting at close to 12″ deep. Some solid face shots mixed with some small airs quickly brought spirits back up.

I knew I shouldn’t, but I had to check the Telluride webcam. It stung a bit to see I was missing an opportunity. But when one door closes, another one opens. Monarch may not have been what we’d initially set out for, but considering all the other places we could’ve broken down, those Mirkwood laps were a very welcome alternative!

Also, I owe a Thank You to the plow driver who placed a strobe on my jeep that night so he wouldn’t hit me while keeping the lot clear. And a Thank You to Ski Patrol for not giving us the boot while we worked though our issue while trying to keep morale in check. We appreciate everything you do!


Conditions. Image: Monarch Mountain



Look-ahead. Image: NOAA


First track. Photo: SnowBrains
Untracked glades. Photo: SnowBrains
Mirkwood Bowl. An excellent taste of what Monarch Cat Skiing has to offer. Photo: SnowBrains
Caught in the clouds. Photo: SnowBrains
Deep corners around! Photo: SnowBrains
Easing the pain. Photo: SnowBrains
There are definitely worse places to run into car trouble. Photo: SnowBrains

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