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 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.

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2016 Spring Blog (brief info on routes and roads from the current spring ski season)
(18 ski days since May 3)
(Photos and more details are in the route descriptions found by the links above.)

June 18. To top of Geissler E Peak (13400) with Randy Garrison and Brian Litz. Descent of the SE face was fine. Superb views in all directions. But this marks the end for 2016. 2000 feet. 18 skis days in the 47 days from May 3 to June 18
June 11. To top of Peak 5 with Randy Garrison. Too warm for good skiing, except for the exquisite 10 turns off the top. 2800 feet.
June 10.  Carried skis and boots to top of Democrat and skied S Face with Randy Garrison and Robert McGrath. Fine conditions. Kite Lake Road blocked a half-mile below lake. Skied all the way to car at 11700. 2600 feet.
June 4.  Skied to top of Pettengell with Randy Garrison. We wanted the NE Couloir (good name: Pettingully) but it looked rocky so we skied the S face, right off the summit. Fine conditions. 3600 feet.
June 1.  Solo ski to just below summit of 12752 N of Loveland Pass. Late start so it was a little mushy. 1500 feet.
May 25. Skied to top of Hassell Peak E of Pettingell. 13215 summit, 9.8 miles. Took less time than I expected. Superb conditions. Ski crampons useful. 3200 feet.
May 24. Skin up Arapahoe Basin with Kati Campbell. 1700 feet.
May 22. With Randy Garrison to S. Summit of Arkansas (13700) via AT col from the east (booted). Down S Face, then back up to the col and down the E side. 3400 feet.
May 20. With Rich Seeley to top of Peak 12730 north of Loveland Pass. Saw coyote way up there. 2000 feet climb.
May 18.  Loveland Pass solo on the bump halfway to the large peak bounding the ski area. Good conditions. Cloudy. 1200 feet.
May 16. Light-gear tour at Vail Pass with Dave and Janet. Snowing.
May 15. Sniktau and down N Face into Sheep Creek with Randy Garrison. Fine conditions. 1300 ft climb, more on descent.
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.
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 9. Skin at Loveland Ski Area. 1200 feet.
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 5. Loveland downhill. Last of my 4-pack. Took one cat ride.
May 3. Peak 8 with Jake Lydard. Good conditions. Great coverage. 3000 feet.
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.


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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