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

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


And spring skiing can take many different forms. Here Janet Jacks and Dave Blakeslee (and I) enjoy perfect crust cruising near Uneva Peak (5/7/2014)


2014 Spring Blog (brief info on routes and roads from the current spring ski season)
(20 ski days from May 7 to June 14 so far)
(Photos and more details are in the route descriptions found by the links above.)

June 14.  With Chet to 13900 just W of the summit of N Mt Massive via N Half Moon Ck. Skied the face down. Long day. 3600 ft climb. The views to the west from this area are truly spectacular.
June 10. With Dave to summit of Buckskin (13 865). Efficient route up on grass and rocks and some snow. Then ridge traverse to summit. Descent was fine in new snow. Ski all the way back to car. Kite Lake road not yet fully open. 2200 ft climb.
June 8.  Solo to saddle SE of Pettengell. Wanted a 13215’ peak (Hassell) well to the NE but weather was poor so I descended quickly. 1900 ft.
June 5.  Quandary summit with Dave Blakeslee. 3400 ft climb. Excellent descent on the east face.
June 3.  Solo to Sniktau summit (about 13200). Very windy. Saw snow buttercups. Descent the easiest way back to the pass. 1500 ft climb.
June 1.   With Jonathan and Chet to top of Squaretop (13800) and then down the large north side gully in excellent corn conditions. Skied back to car at Naylor Lake. 2200 ft climb.
May 31.  Solo to 12700 bump in front of Citadel in Dry Creek. Fine corn conditions. 1900 ft climb.
May 29.  Solo to top of Peak 6. Excellent corn on the way down. 2700 feet climb.
May 27.  Skate with Dave and Janet around Arkansas. 1600 ft. climb. Little mushy. Descent was fun.
May 26.  Solo to top of Peak 8. Fine descent straight down the NE Face. 3050 feet climb. Fun and easy.
May 22.  Skate Corral Creek into Polk Creek with Dave and Janet. Conditions ok. Saw large bear tracks. 1000 ft climb.
May 20.  With Elke to top of Buffalo South and down Lakeview in perfect corn. Snow back to car. Stayed high on descent, which is smart: left the avy path at about 11200. 3000 ft climb.
May 17.  With Chet Roe up Lakeview on Buffalo to 12000 ft. in very wet snow, and then down “Door Number One”, the first couloir into the Caldera. Pretty. 2300 ft. climb.
May 15.  To near summit of Peak 8 in low-visibility and snowy day. Fun descent in powder. 2500 feet climb.
May 14.  To Porcupine Saddle in falling snow at Loveland Ski Area. 1600 ft. climb. Over 9 feet of snow on ground in spots.
May 12.  With Jonathan to 11550 on the caldera knob on Buffalo. Very wintry. 1900 feet climb. Powder descent.
May 11. With Jonathan and Elke to Mayflower Hill for two laps in near zero-visibility and cold new powder. About 2000 feet. Lovely.
May 9.  With Elke and Heather to south summit of Arkansas (13700) and skied S face on a stormy day. Lovely.
May 8.  Solo on light touring skis to 12000 feet on the ridge below Uneva. Up the south bowl, down the north. Light snow.
May 7.  Skate skiing in Corral Creek to 11600 feet, below the steep slopes in the north bowl of Uneva. Excellent conditions. 1400 feet climb.

April 28.  Up to 11300 on the looker’s right side of Buffalo’s “Caldera”. Excellent ski down through trees in cold powder.
April 27. Tour with Dave into Chihuahua and Ruby Gulch in storm. Windy.
April 25.  To Machinegun Ridge, aka Shrine Ridge, aka Wingle Ridge for a classic tour of Vail Pass area. There was more than 9-foot depths on the lee side of Shrine Notch.
April 22. Through the N gate high at Loveland Ski Area to Golden Bear summit and down the east face. Excellent corn, and wonderful views from up there,.
April 20. Skied to 11000 feet on Lakeview on Buffalo. Slushy. Four feet of snow at the high point.
April 14. Back in Moab. Skied solo to just below Prelaurel in old powder conditions.

March 23. Jonathan Kriegel and I skied Exxon’s Folly on Tuk No. Condition were chalky, but skiable. Very satisfying to get this line I have wanted for many years.
March 9. Finally did the J-Chute on Mt. Victoria in Frisco. Nice powder descent. The chute had slid about two weeks earlier and the crown was prominent. Of course, that lessened the danger of an incident on our day.

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 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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