Really, the best time to ski the Skillet is early to mid-May. But, Jackson Lake is not frozen enough to cross, and not thawed enough to row. But, as I mulled over the idea of the Skillet with our friend Hans, I learned something new. Hans had moved to Jackson from Colorado in 2014, but we knew him from skiing in Colorado. He told me that he thought Mt. Moran could be approached from the String Lake Trailhead via Leigh Lake Trail, and that the road to String Lake opened up on May 1st. He hadn’t known anyone who had done it. But, looking on a map, it seemed easy enough – a 5 mile, mostly flat, approach to the bottom of the route and then a 5500 vertical foot climb from there. This would be a long one, but I’ve done longer, harder, steeper routes with greater vertical before. Avoiding Jackson Lake seemed like the way to go.Read more
Since the inception of CB3P, I’ve always thought to myself, “I should really do that race someday.” But, it always happens at a time when I’d rather just be backckountry skiing. And, I was also pretty terrified of the “paddle” portion as I have little river experience. But, after I was finally assured that the river section was indeed not too hard, especially if using a duckie, I decided that this year was the year I needed to do it. I even put it in writing, stating I wanted to do it on my 2019 Bucket List. See, that’s the thing. Sometimes just putting a goal in writing makes me want to achieve it even more.Read more
We met at our rendezvous point near Frisco with the intentions of heading over Vail Pass. But I-70 chaos struck. the pass was closed, despite the fact that it was a perfectly weekday, and no bad weather had hit the area in days. Thwarted, we came up with a plan B, head up Fremont Pass and do some touring out of Mayflower Gulch. Drift Peak was on my list. But, as soon as we exited the highway, we found traffic backed up on the pass again. Another accident most likely. Now it was getting late and we had to quickly decide on a Plan C. Citadel. The letters matched, so it seemed fitting, and none of us had actually ever skied it. Even better, eastbound I-70 traffic was smooth sailing.Read more
I am not sure how Rain Peak became something on my list to ski. But, it did. I knew for years that there was a north-facing couloir that left short of the peak east of it’s summit. After viewing it from another mission on Keller Mountain, I knew that it looked like a quality ski.
I was on a “Brittany boot-camp” training mission to help myself prepare for my upcoming ski of Mount Rainier, so a 12.6 mile (4400’vert) slog through the Gore to ski Rain Peak didn’t phase me. Of course, I didn’t know that the trail leaving from Willow Creek Trailhead would have so many downed trees that would slow our progress significantly. Nevertheless, I managed to drag Frank along with me that day, on a mission he swore would be one of his last in the Gore.Read more
I first laid eyes on Sayres Benchmark in June of 2006, when skied nearby La Plata Peak, my 6th 14,000-ft peak skied during my Colorado Fourteener Skiing project. I immediately added it to my to-do-after-I’m-done-skiing-fourteeners list, but here it was 2018, and I finished that project in 2011. Where did the time go and why hadn’t I skied Sayres Benchmark yet? I could make up some excuses, for sure. But mainly, it was time to just get it done.Read more
After skiing Gamsspitze, we had to decide whether to descend the glacier a bit in order to reascend on the other side, which would allow us to go over a pass called Tiroler Scharte, the traditional way to Weisbadener Hut, which was our destination for the evening. Or we could go via another route involving 3 passes, which may or may not work. We decided for adventure.Read more
Mount Powell is named after John Wesley Powell, the same explorer what Lake Powell is named after, who summited the peak way back in 1868. At 13,596 feet, Mount Powell is the highest peak in the Gore Range and barely makes the cut-off as a Bicentennial Summit in Colorado, ranking at 198th. Still, from certain aspects, and even for a short glimpse on I-70, Powell is inspiring and the multiple aspects allowing for ski descents have caught my attention for years. I’d stood just beneath it on our way to ski CC Rider Couloir on Peak C a few years back and it had been beckoning me back. But, getting there is a chore. Either you wait until Red Sandstone Road to Piney Lake is open to drive, or you go earlier and make the 8-mile journey to the lake via a snowmobile. The main problem with using a snowmobile is that by the time the snowpack has reached a more stable state in spring, the road is often partially melted out and gated from the bottom. You’d have to ride a long ways on dirt. But, not this year. Colorado has been rewarded with snow and Red Sandstone Road showed no signs of dirt, except for the first 100 feet. Mount Powell was calling louder than ever.Read more
After flying direct from Denver to Munich, we were jet-lagged. So, rather than pushing for a little further destination, we decided to start our first tour (the day after arriving into Germany) close to Garmisch – in the mountains of Tirol just over the Austrian border. We drove to the town of Biberwier and began our tour from Marienberg Ski Area. Our plan was to circumnavigate the massif whose highest peak is Grunstein (2663 m). We took three lifts for a bump in elevation (ski touring tickets are cheap).Read more
In the last decade, backcountry skiing has really evolved. Changes in equipment allow us to travel more efficiently and have more fun, permitting more and more of us to explore areas further away. Similarly, the knowledge-base of the digital world has given us easy methods for research and planning. Whether you are a veteran or new to the sport of backcountry skiing, mobile apps have become essential tools to help in planning for outdoor adventures.
Below is a list of apps that every backcountry skier should use. We use each of these on a regular basis to help in planning and navigating our way while backcountry skiing.Read more