Alpine Ventures

Outdoor adventures in Colorado and beyond

Berthoud Pass (12/7/10)

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On Tuesday, Jon, Sarah, and I met up at Berthoud Pass, where over a foot of fresh powder greeted us.  Jon had already skied a couple of dawn patrol laps at Jones Pass earlier in the morning before Sarah and I arrived at the pass at about 10:45 a.m.  While waiting for Jon to finish his “in-between ski tours” breakfast in Empire, Sarah and I skied a quick lap on the west side of the pass, aka the “gaper run”.  But to be fair, Jon was about 20-30 minutes behind us, and there wasn’t a single track on this run, so I figured we might as well make a quick lap.  It was short, but the turns we made were excellent and provided us with a few face shots.

First tracks on the west side of the pass
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We timed it almost perfectly as Jon arrived at the top of the pass just as we were making our quick run down the west side.  We all piled into my car and headed north of the pass to the Current Creek Trailhead.  From here, we skinned up to the 110’s area and made a couple of laps.  It was a relaxing and mellow day, as we enjoyed the scenery and solitude almost as much as the snow itself.  The skin up was very nice, while the turns on the way down happened to be pretty awesome as well.

On the way up
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Jon making some nice looking powder turns
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Sarah getting in on the action
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Looking back at some of our tracks
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Once we met back up with the skin track, we decided to head back up to the ridgeline for a second lap.  We headed skier’s left, rather than skier’s right, of the skin track on the descent this time and found some more goods.  At one point on the second lap, Jon took a nasty spill after hitting a hidden rock, but fortunately came out unscathed.  Otherwise the descent was great, and even skiing along the skin track back to the parking lot was fast, tight, and fun.  All in all, the snow conditions were fantastic.

At the top of the ridge, ready for round two
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Jon takes off
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The clouds slowly began to lift as the afternoon progressed
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Sarah making some turns
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Jon…
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Sarah…
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Jon…
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Sarah…
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Late afternoon sun on the way out
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While we were already skiing in a pretty safe area, as far as avalanches go, to begin with, we didn’t notice any obvious signs of instabilities in the snowpack.  However, there are dangers lurking out there.  Tragically, a local man lost his life in a hard slab avalanche near Dry Gulch on Sunday.  Also, a skier set off a large slide in the Second Creek area of Berthoud Pass just yesterday, and posted a dramatic video to accompany it.  More on both of these incidents later.  But for now, be careful out there… even if you don’t find any obvious signs of weaknesses in the snowpack, that doesn’t make avy-prone slopes safe to ski, as evidenced by recent hard slabs which, while less frequent, are often deadly.

But avalanche concerns aside, the early season snow conditions continue to be amazing, and another good storm is expected to hit northern Colorado tomorrow night!

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