American Basin 4 Pack of Couloirs 5.19.12

(Last Updated On: May 21, 2012)

The snow line may be creeping upwards, but that doesn’t mean the quality is correspondingly heading downwards. On the contrary, the skiing remains unexpectedly excellent, especially in the steepest most protected couloirs. Searching for something we could ski in a daytrip from Crested Butte with a minimum of hiking, American Basin immediately came to mind. With a plowed Cinnamon Pass road, access is as good as the multiple couloirs that spill off the ridge of American Peak, a high thirteener that just misses highest 100 status. Mike Kingsbury had been trying to get a weekend day off to join us and finally did, and meanwhile Jarrett Luttrell decided he could make the short drive over from Silverton (just 15 miles away via Cinnamon Pass, whereas we came up from the Lake City side). Four people, and four couloirs- coincidence? We thought not.

American Peak and three of the four couloirs- Traitor, Independence, and Patriot from Left to Right:

Jarrett one-upped us all, sporting a windbreaker befitting the peak we were climbing.

We climbed Patriot first, and made the quick hike to the summit from there. Brittany and Jarrett, ready to drop in on run number one:

Wetterhorn with a dusting of snow:

Brittany in Patriot Couloir:

Jarrett, same line:

Next up, Victory Couloir, which was a fun one since it featured a spiderweb of different line choices.

I’ve made a date with this pinner couloir next spring:

Mike goes for Victory:


Victory for Jarrett:

Ski-eye view from the top of Victory:

Brittany in Victory:

Next up was Independence, with a ready-made bootpack from a previous group. Frank:




We were starting to get tired, but since we’d been saving the bast for last, it was easy to motivate for the day’s fourth couloir, the Traitor. It was a bit steeper than the others:

Brittany makes a 50+ degree turn in the top of Traitor:

Concentrate Mike, concentrate:

Jarrett insists that it’s impossible to get a good looking shot on his heelside. I’m not so sure.


Time to ride the basin down to the car (Frank):


Too many photos? maybe, but we packed four couloirs into one day, so I decided we needed to fit all the photos into one entry as well. We’re still finding great snow- no runnels, no suncups, and very little dirty snow. The Traitor couloir even had what I would describe as “mature powder” stashed away in the steeps. It’s good out there, and we’re looking forward to next weekend.

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Frank Konsella

Frank loves snow more than anything... except his wife.Β Β He ensures his food is digested properly by chewing it 32 times before swallowing.He is a full-time real estate agent serving Crested Butte and Gunnison and would be honored to send you his monthly newsletter.

Latest posts by Frank Konsella (see all)

Frank Konsella

Frank loves snow more than anything... except his wife. Β Β  He ensures his food is digested properly by chewing it 32 times before swallowing. He is a full-time real estate agent serving Crested Butte and Gunnison and would be honored to send you his monthly newsletter.

10 thoughts on “American Basin 4 Pack of Couloirs 5.19.12

  • May 22, 2012 at 12:46 pm

    Looks great up there, nice job guys! Way to keep the season alive!

  • May 22, 2012 at 9:35 pm

    Awesome! You cut the tails off those twintips yet Frank? If not I expect to see some switch skiing pics in the next post πŸ™‚

  • May 22, 2012 at 10:24 pm

    No, I sure would like to though. Cut them off, that is, not ski switch. πŸ™‚

  • May 22, 2012 at 10:49 pm
    Permalink Maybe a sister site?

  • May 23, 2012 at 12:29 am

    Sweet! Talk about maximizing what Winter we were given! Crazy just how smooth the turns have been in the alpine – I’ve ridden “good” snow with much greater frequency than last year. Thanks for the invite to join you on your June trip. Unfortunately, I start my Summer gig next week and won’t be able to make it. Enjoy the rest of your ski season!

  • May 23, 2012 at 8:29 am

    Zach, I think that website name would come up on some strange searches πŸ™‚ Maybe “mature powder” needs a new name.

    Brennan- People who hung up their skis a long time ago look at me like I’m crazy when I say I’m still skiing. They look at me even more crazily when I say this spring has been better than last spring, but you mention the same thing. Sure there was 20′ of snow everywhere, but every time the sun came out in spring, some of that snow would peel off the rocks as they heated up and we’d be left with avalanche debris, runnels, and suncups. As you said, this season has bee baby butt smooth. As long as it stays that way, we’ll keep skiing πŸ™‚

  • May 23, 2012 at 5:13 pm

    Ah. I like it. Better term than “re-crystallized” at least…

  • May 23, 2012 at 5:16 pm

    BUT. With that logic. I’d take immature underage powder any day of the week.

    this is getting weird. i’ll stop now. he he he.

  • May 23, 2012 at 5:31 pm

    Ah, you’re killing me Zach, killing me.

    Now to snow geek out for a minute, I wouldn’t really call it “re-crystalized”, not in the sense of the recycled powder that you find in winter at least. The snow was just old powder that was in the shade of the couloir without the big temp swings of winter. Honestly a bit of a rare snow texture that I haven’t seen very often, though I have seen it before.

  • May 23, 2012 at 5:50 pm

    Ah. Good point! Look at us, back on topic. Who would have thought?

    This powder you speak of, albeit mature, you would imagine to be a bit moist, if not re-crystalized? Right?

    We need Ben back in this conversation. Then things will really get out of hand.

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