Had a nice morning of backcountry skiing this past Friday, on Cinnamon Pass in Colorado’s stupendous San Juan Mountains. Snow coverage in the ‘Juans is huge — hundreds of the higher lines are still in, though the snow surface is becoming a bit "moon scaped" with moderate sun cupping and runnels. We camped near Lake City and delivered the boy to Camp Redcloud for a month of rock climbing, back packing, and service projects with their excellent "TNT" work/play program.
As always, it was fun to visit Lake City, Colorado and see the town waking up for a summer of mountain recreation. Be your taste fourteener climbing or four-wheeling, Lake City has it all. The town’s positive attitudes and recreation friendly atmosphere remind us of Moab, Utah.
For backcountry skiers, the best thing about the Lake City area is that Hinsdale County opens two major alpine passes to automobile traffic while the spring snowpack is still strong and sweet. Dozer drivers spend days in May plowing both Cinnamon and Engineer pass, providing incredible access to some of Colorado’s most stupendous terrain on 14,000 foot giants such as Wetterhorn and Handies Peaks. Highly recommended.
Driving on the high passes out of Lake City is somewhat moderate, though they’re still what you’d call "four wheel drive" roads. Beware what type of tire you have, however, as those with less beef may be prone to damage on the area’s sharp rocks. Local auto repair shops will tell you the same thing, as they point to large piles of damaged tires waiting for repair (or the dump trailer). This summer we’ll ll be upgrading our Tacoma TAV tires to something beefy but street friendly. Tire shopping, oh yeah, every guy’s dream!
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.