Welcome Back Winter, 2018-19

The calendar says it’s still fall. But, around Crested Butte, it’s winter. Some hail, “Oh, winter came early this year!” But they forget that this is normal for us. Winter comes in October most years, with the exception of the last three falls which have been irregularly warm. Admittedly, I’d be okay riding my bike through the end of October without the snow flying. But, I’m always embracing the season we we’re in. And right now, we’re in winter, whether the calendar says so or not.

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TBT: Let the Ski Season Begin (12 Oct 2013)

Ski season began with a bang for us this year. With consistent weekly storm patterns, snow has been gathering up high for the last few weeks. Although still relatively thin, the snowpack is deep enough to not worry too much about hitting debris underneath. Furthermore, it’s supportable and bomber. We’ve never seen anything like it this early in October. That’s why we skied lines this day that we did not touch last year until April.

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TR: Skiing Mount Edwards (22 May 2018)

Mount Edwards is one of those peaks that even many backcountry skiers haven’t really heard of. Accessed from the same trailhead at Bakerville as Torreys, Grays, and even Grizzly Peak, Mount Edwards sits in the shadows of these classic peaks. But, Mount Edwards can hold its own, and the lines that it offers can arguably be better than what’s offered on its sister peaks. Certainly you’re bound to see less people on Mount Edwards too.

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Mount Rainier – Skiing the Fuhrer Finger (14 May 2018)

I have a long history with Mount Rainier. I was just 14 years old when our plane flew alongside her and I was mesmerized – so much that I decided I wanted to go to college in Seattle, just so I could be close to Mount Rainier. But, after visiting the University of Washington campus and being disappointed, I set my sights elsewhere and ended up in Boulder. Still, Mount Rainier hung in my mind. My dad and I eventually climbed her in the mid-90’s, fully guided with RMI. The famed Dave Hahn was our lead guide.

But, then became a ski mountaineer and my eyes gazed back to Mount Rainier. I needed to ski her. Two previous volcano-skiing trips to the Pacific Northwest were fruitful, but did not give ample opportunity for skiing Rainier. After missing last ski season due to injury, and coming back to a rather mediocre season in Colorado, I needed something. I needed a big goal, something that would be the highlight of my season. I decided that would be Rainier.

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Where to Find the Best Off-Piste Skiing in the Alps

The thrill of skiing off-piste into the great white wilderness is what the Alps offer best. Ungroomed slopes give the exhilaration which the tailored ones do not. Documentaries often show skiers and snowboarders descending huge mountains swiftly, jumping off the edge of a cliff, and disappearing into the powdery white.

The good news is that the Alps offer something for everyone.  While more advanced ski mountaineers can head for bigger lines,  people with little backcountry touring experience  – can also ski  ungroomed slopes. So, if you plan to visit a European alpine country anytime soon, read on!

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TR: Keller Mountain North Couloir (27 April 2018)

Keller Mountain is one of many Gore Range peaks that beckon backcountry skiers from CO-9, south of Silverthorne. A north-facing couloir strikes down from Keller Mountain’s ridge, and I studied this couloir every time I traveled between Steamboat and back. I meant to ski the Keller Mountain North Couloir a few years back while researching routes for our guidebook. But, the timing never quite worked out. So, there it stood – waiting. But 2018 is a good year for the Gore Range. And it was time to go ski that line that struck me during all those trips to the northern part of our state.

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