WildSnow Evening Edition…
Blog reader Joel emailed me and pointed out that our countdown timer was set to the older, more optimistic Independence Pass opening date. (Thanks Joel.) Fact of the matter, Indy is buried in so much snow it’s like the Pacific Northwest up there, and snow removal is delayed. Now they’re saying it’ll open the 30th of this month. Should still be good by then, but too bad the traditional Memorial Day weekend opening is not happening, as getting up there around the 25th would have been incredible. As it is, you can access much of the Indy goods by using an ATV to drive the dry pavement past the gate, or use a bicycle it if you’ve got the legs and lungs to cycle your ski gear up there.
Yesterday and today (and perhaps tomorrow) we’re having the “warming event” that happens many years around this time in Colorado. Key for backcountry skiing during this sort of weather is to use higher trailheads where nighttime temperatures drop cool enough to keep the snowpack firmer at your start/end point so you don’t end up slogging out through deep and dangerous slush piles. More, doing westerly routes that don’t get early sun is also key. Without Independence Pass we don’t have many options for high trailheads around here this time of year, but elsewhere in Colorado you can drive to plenty of high altitude zones. Examples: Loveland Pass, Red Mountain Pass, Yankee Boy Basin.
WildSnow.com publisher emeritus and founder Lou (Louis Dawson) has a 50+ years career in climbing, backcountry skiing and ski mountaineering. He was the first person in history to ski down all 54 Colorado 14,000-foot peaks, has authored numerous books about about backcountry skiing, and has skied from the summit of Denali in Alaska, North America’s highest mountain.