Monarch Pass, CO Report: Perfect Trees, Sun, and Stoke

Dominic Gawel | BackcountryBackcountry | Conditions ReportConditions Report
Photo: Dominic Gawel

Brought to you by Monarch Mountain

Report From January 1, 2021

Powder and sun is the best way to start a new year.  Today Josh, Micah, and I toured some low-angle terrain on Monarch Pass. We did 2 laps on Perfect Trees and one lap on Snowstake. We bailed on our plan to summit and ski Clover Mountain after evaluating avalanche conditions and reviewing an old avalanche report on it from last season.

The snow was perfect and the sun was shining. Besides a few windblown spots, coverage was good – we finally have a decent base! Perfect Trees had plenty of fresh turns and well-spaced trees. Snowstake has quite a few tracks in it, but the widely spaced trees allowed for some decent charging.

We looped the whole tour. The day started by touring to the top of Perfect Trees from the parking lot on Monarch Pass. We took a lap in Perfect Trees and crossed the highway to Old Monarch Pass. After the lap, we toured up Old Monarch Pass to the top of Snowstake and skied to the turnout on the highway. We walked up the road back to the parking lot on Monarch Pass where we took one more lap in Perfect Trees and took the skin track back to the parking lot.

An avalanche on the Northeast side of Monarch Crest. Photo: Dominic Gawel

The Northeast side of Monarch Crest had an R2D2 persistent slab avalanche in wind loaded terrain. Luckily, this occurred naturally as there were no tracks going in or out of the slide path. Seeing the slide confirms how dangerous the backcountry is in Colorado right now. Tomorrow, the avalanche forecast will be lowered from considerable to moderate.

Avalanche Forecast:

Credit: CAIC
Credit: CAIC

Weather Forecast:



Credit: NOAA


Photo: Dominic Gawel

Getting turns in Perfect Trees! Photo: Dominic Gawel
Photo: Josh Jones
Views… Monarch Mountain Ski Area just over the hill. Photo: Dominic Gawel
Pointing towards Mt. Aetna on Monarch Pass. Photo: Dominic Gawel
Skin Track on Snowstake. Photo: Dominic Gawel

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