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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2019 Spring Blog (brief info on routes and roads from the current spring ski season) (28 ski days from April 12 to XX)
(Photos and more details are in the route descriptions found by the links above.)

April 12.  Watrous Gulch solo. 1500 feet. Excellent conditions
April 14.  Superb skiing at Climax Corner with John Fritz and Richard Seeley. Cold powder. 1200 ft climb. To summit of knoll I call English Saddle.
April 15.  Solo to top of Prospector Peak off Montezuma Road; 2100 ft. Poor conditions. New route for me.
April 16.  Vail Pass. Poor conditions.
April 17.  To base of Lakeview on Buffalo’s south side 1200 ft. Conditions were excellent.
April 19.  Descent ABasin to Montezuma Road with Rich Seeley.
April 20.  Skin up ABasin early.
April 21.  East Red Summit with Kim Clark and Henry Gibb. 4200 feet climb. Descend from summit into Red Diamond Bowl. Interesting day. New route for me.

May 1.    Buffalo slopes, easy. 1100 feet.
May 3.    ABasin skin up early. 1500 feet.
May 4.    West Hassel Peak with Jonathan Kriegel. 2700 feet climb. Decent conditions on descent. New route for me.
May 5.    Southeast side of South Sniktau and then the nice Sheep Creek Descent to the road. With Randy Garrison. 2200 climb. 2600 descent. New line for me.
May 7.    ABasin morning climb. 1500 feet.
May 8.    Short ski in Corral Creek on waxless skis.
May 9.    Up Herman Gulch avalanche gully no. 1 (Herminator #1) with Rich Seeley. Excellent conditions in new snow. 1400 feet. Ski up from car, but walk the lower trail on descent. New route for me.
May 11.  To near the summit of Porcupine Peak (atop Loveland Ski Area) from the pass, with John Fritz and Elke Dratch. Excellent skiing on the SW face. 2100 climb. New line for me.
May 12.  To Porcupine Peak (atop Loveland Ski Area) from the ski area, with Randy Garrison. Fantastic skiing down a steep gully on the north face. 2000 ft climb. New route for me.
May 14.  Mt. Machebeuf (12800) with Elke Dratch via the Herminator #1 gully. 3 hrs round trip. Perfect conditions, up and down. 2600 feet climb. New route and new summit for me.

May 15.  Loveland ski area with John Fritz to find a lost helmet. Found it! Continued up SE ridge of Porcupine for perfect corn descent. 1500 feet. New ski line for me.
May 16.  ABasin skin early. 1500 feet.
May 18.  Vail Pass. At least eight feet of snow at tree line.  1000 ft. climb.
May 19.  Loveland Pass north. Eight feet of snow at tree line. Poor visibility. 1100 ft. climb.
May 21.  Buffalo slopes. 12 inches or more new snow. 1000 ft. climb.
May 22.  Mayflower Gulch to start of Atlantic ridge. 1100 ft. climb. Great new snow.
May 23.  Buffalo slopes. Again, new snow, but very wet. 900 ft. climb.
May 24.  Uneva from the E Ridge. Superb dry new snow. 1600 ft. climb.
May 25.  Mayflower Gulch to base of Fletcher. Perfect conditions. 1200 ft. climb.
May 26.  With Randy Garrison up Fletcher NW Face. SUPERB. Hard climb (52 switchbacks). 5 hours r.t. (3:40 to top), 6.6 miles, 2650 feet climb. Very nice conditions. Steep ski was 1800 feet. New route for me.

2018 Spring Blog (4 ski days from April 29 to May 21)

2017 Spring Blog (15 ski days from May 6 to June 18)

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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