A beautiful creation known as the Ridge of Gendarmes forms the southeast ridge of 14,265 foot Castle Peak, between Crested Butte and Aspen near here in Colorado. Louie and I hit a nice bit of mini golf there a few days ago. On better snow years the smaller couloirs fill in, as they are now we felt they were too full of rockfall potential and ice to make for good skiing, so we stuck with a more open line. The day was beautiful, with a cold morning keeping the snow from slushing out and the snirt layers still covered by recent snowfalls. But the snirt is appearing quickly so get the goods while you can if you’re in this area.
Only bummer of the day was seeing three snowboarder/snowmobilers riding in the legal Wilderness we were respecting and enjoying under human power. Sure makes the concept of Wilderness a joke, doesn’t it? Weird we have our group here in central Colorado pushing for ever more legal Wilderness (the Hidden Gems campaign), and what much of what we have already designated as legal Wilderness is freely used for illegal snowmobiling, and thus Wilderness in name only. Seems like the Wilderness advocates should spend some time supporting the USFS on enforcement of existing Wilderness laws, instead of their seemingly endless yammering about designating new acreage. In other words, are the Wilderness advocates really doing what they do to preserve Wilderness values? Or are they just pushing for new Wilderness as some sort of exercise in touchy feelie feel-good volunteerism while providing ways for politicians to look good? I really do think that is an open question.
Your take? (Please don’t leave any comments about damaging personal property.)
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.