Well, I guess summer is finally here. Meaning folks are backcountry skiing up in Montezuma Basin in the highcountry between Aspen and Crested Butte.
Jordan White hit ‘Zuma for some Saturday turns. He and a friend got a good descent of Conundrum Couloir and were on snow back to their truck just above timberline. I was thinking of heading up there myself for some ski touring, but got involved in real life with some auto repairs — though we did get out hiking yesterday.
|Hiking about six feet above the Lead King Loop jeep trail, yesterday.|
Yep, I’d finally gotten the skis far enough away from my toolbox to get some Jeep wrenching done. We’d bent the passenger side axle knuckle steering arm last season in Moab. Not being comfortable with damaged steering parts, I tore apart a Dana 30 “donor” axle we had laying around and swapped in the undamaged knuckle. That not without fabricating a better steering arm reinforcement system, as well as renewing the ball joints. Whew.
Got the axle bolted together about noon yesterday. Couldn’t see getting up to Montezuma that late in the day, so we headed up the Crystal Valley to see how the highcountry roads were opening up, and to do some alpine hiking. For you locals who want to head up there: debris from massive avalanches is still blocking the Leadking loop on the upper (north) side. You can walk or hike-a-bike over the snow and probably get a motorcycle or ATV over it if you really tried, but doing the loop in a 4×4 is out for at least a few more weeks.
Suggestion to the ever increasing number of Marble area citizens who depend on these roads for summer tourism business: What are you waiting for? As they do in the San Juans, get a bulldozer up there and punch ’em out!
|Want some summer skiing? Just head up to Meadow Mountain. This thing isn’t even 13,000 feet high and look at all that snow on the southerly face! North side is probably in perfect ski condition for even more vert than shown in this photo.|
|Have to admit it was nice getting out for a simple alpine hike without a pair of ski boots on the feet. That’s Chair Mountain in the distance. Wildflowers aren’t really out yet, that should change soon. Funny thing is that weather wise we’ve had a dry summer so far, so the things haven’t greened up the way they usually do. I’m not sure that’ll delay the flowers, but it might make them less bountiful than normal.|
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.