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.


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 is a photo from one of the many long ski tours one can do: this is Jonathan Kriegel on the last section of a difficult ski tour (Dec. 27, 2014) from East Rabbit Ears Pass to Mt. Werner and down the Steamboat Ski Area.


2016 Spring Blog (brief info on routes and roads from the current spring ski season)
(Photos and more details are in the route descriptions found by the links above.)

April 22. Ski with Elke Dratch and her nephew Brian Raffio to south summit of Arkansas. Wintry. Descended the S Face. Ski crampons essential. 2800 feet.
April 10-17. Ski the hut traverse from Mons Hut to Lyell Hut to Icefall Lodge in British Columbia.
May 3. Peak 8 with Jake Lydard. Good conditions. Great coverage. 3000 feet.
May 5. Loveland downhill. Last of my 4-pack. Took one cat ride.
May 7. Bard with Randy Garrison. Weather chased us down just below the summit. I took a stupid route up, but on descent we could, to our surprise, ski to within 400 vertical of the car. 2900 feet.
May 9. Skin at Loveland Ski Area. 1200 feet.
May 11. To ridge below Uneva Summit; descent via broad gully between Uneva and Vail Pass Peak. Crusty in forest; fine up high. 1600 feet.
May 13. To summit of Red with Randy Garrison. Car-to-car skiiing. 12 miles, 9.75 hours. Dry powder at the summit. Ascent via Red Buffalo Pass, descent via SE Face. 4500 feet,12 miles, 9.75 hours.

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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