Steep Skiing in Colorado

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Summit County Skiing:              Gore Range                Breckenridge Area                  Grays and Torreys Area

Nearby Counties Skiing        My Skiing Wish List        More Ski Routes                Long Ski Tours on Light Gear


Getting to the goods sometimes takes an effort: Elke Dratch, left, on a tough approach. And Starr Jamison, right, enjoying perfectly cooked corn.

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And Colorado skiing can take many different forms. Here on left Janet Jacks and Dave Blakeslee (and I) enjoy perfect crust cruising on skate skis near Uneva Peak (May 7, 2014). And on right are two photos from one of the many long ski tours one can do: at left is Jonathan Kriegel on the last section of a difficult ski tour (Dec. 27, 2014) from Dumont Lake at East Rabbit Ears Pass to Mt. Werner and down the Steamboat Ski Area. Right photo from same tour on Dec. 29, 2016 (by Kim Clark).

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2017 Spring Blog (brief info on routes and roads from the current spring ski season) (15 ski days from May 6 to June 18)
(Photos and more details are in the route descriptions found by the links above.)

June 18.  Looked at N Face Democrat with Randy Garrison, but decided not to do it. It was skiable. But the climb back to Cameron saddle had no snow and looked ugly. So we started down the S Face, but that became mushy at 13600 so we wandered over to the E face and eventually got on some snow leading down to the trail. Not a great day. 2550 ft climb. This wraps up the ski season.
June 10.  Peak 12752 N of Loveland Pass solo. Excellent conditions on descent of W face right from summit. About 1600 feet.
June 7.  Jacque Peak N Face with Henry Gibb. 9.4 miles, 3900 ft climb. Face is steep (D9) and it was soft, to my surprise. Also stable. Skied down to 10400 at ski area (car at 9800).
June 3.  Atlantic N Face with Randy Garrison. 13870 summit. Perfect conditions on descent of the 1000-ft face. 2900 ft. climb. Car-to-car skiing. 6.5 miles, 5.5 hours.
June 2.  Pettingell summit with Henry Gibb. Great above 12500, mushy below. 7.5 hrs, 3400 ft.
May 28.  Sniktau. East Face (southern version), climb again, and north face into Sheep Creek. Unstable conditions on the first, excellent conditions on the second. With Randy, Robert, Chet III, Chet IV, and Bob. 5 miles. 2800 feet climbed. 3200 descent.
May 24.  To summit N Tenmile Peak with Henry Gibb, from Vail Pass. Back via Polk Creek. Excellent conditions. 13.3 miles; 9 hours. 3900 ft climbed.
May 22.  To Peak Six summit from the Green Gate. 6.2 miles. 2600 ft climb. Ascent was fine. Descent was mushy. Corn season not here yet.
May 21.  Vail Pass Shrine Ridge Loop. 1600 ft climb.
May 20.  Trelease glades with Randy Garrison. Two runs. Crusty in the open slopes. Very wintry at tree line (12000). About 1900 feet climb. Snow depths are fantastic, and no dust.
May 19.  Huge storm yesterday. Went 1000 feet up Buffalo S side. Fine conditions.
May 17. To summit Peak 8. Very firm and smooth up top. Mushy down low. 3000 feet climb, 2:20 for climb.
May 16.  Skate skiing below Uneva with Dave and Janet. Firm. 8 miles, 1500 ft climbed.
May 11.  Vail Pass. Short tour. Mushy.
May 6.   Buffalo, main summit, skied down front side. With Randy Garrison and Henry Gibb. Mushy.
April 15.  Lakeview on S. Buffalo with Rich Seeley, Chet Roe, Martin Reeves. Fine corn conditions on descent.

2016 Spring Blog (18 ski days since May 3 to June 18)

2015 Spring Blog (13 ski days from May 2 to June 28)

2014 Spring Blog (20 ski days from May 7 to June 14; last day: June 14)

2013 Spring Blog (18 ski days in May-June; last day: June 6)

2012 Blog (worst spring season; 0 ski days in May, couple in April; last day: April 7)

2011 Blog (28 ski days in May/June/July; last day: July 4)

2010 Spring Blog (8 ski days in May/June/July; last day: June 6)

2009 Spring Blog (23 ski days in May/June/July; last day: July 2)

2008 Spring Blog (24 ski days in May/June; last day: June 29)

2007 Spring Blog (21 ski days in May/June; last day: June 22)

Route List: Graded according to difficulty

In the mid 1990s, when I was told that some people preferred the skiing in June to that in mid-winter, I did not understand. Then I started skiing the steep spring routes. Now I understand!

There are lots of reasons to be enthusiastic about spring skiing. Sure, there are the steep lines that are generally safe. But the whole package is what makes this time of year so great. Often one can ski from a summit back to the car in very short order. Cruising on the gentle terrain around rocks, frozen streams, willows, and ptarmigan is a blast. On the other hand, one does sometimes have to carry skis and boots over wet ground or through thick forests. Well, days like that just make the time spent up high even more special.

The links above give photos and descriptions of routes that are best in May, June, and sometimes July or April. Almost all of these are in sight of the towns of Frisco, Breckenridge, or Silverthorne, though of course I have ventured farther afield towards Leadville and Vail. All of these photos are very striking in a large print, and I can provide such prints on request. I have taken a lot of trouble to get directly opposite the ski lines; it is worth it, as I think the photos of the Ribbon, the Deming Drop, the Zebra Stripes, Sayers, La Plata, Big Eyes, Democrat, and the Tuning Fork show.

Ratings: There is a rating list above; I have not included ratings with the descriptions. If you feel some ratings need adjustment, do tell.

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