Kelly and I went up to Hidden Valley for a quick lap in RMNP this morning. Finally the Avy Fx had settled down to moderate above and below treeline, so we geared up and went after some low angle white gold. We thought it would be pretty darn good; in fact it was the second time this week I found myself proclaiming the snow to be the best I’d ever skied – the first instance was Tuesday while the defending champion was that time the Meatheads won Best Powder for their Jay segment. So yea, best powder skiing I’ve had in nearly 5 years (best ever, probably) to include storm chasing all over New England plus various trips from back East to Colorado, Montana, Washington, Oregon and who knows where else I’ve forgotten. It was that good. And then we saw a herd of elk on the drive out of the park. Feast your eyes.
During the month of January, Colorado has soared from an abysmal snowpack to 150% of average for this time of year. We weren’t about to take anyone’s word at face value, so we loaded up the car and went to have a look for ourselves. They weren’t joking around…
One of the perks of planning a wedding at A-Basin is that they give you a ‘free’ invite to a snowshoe dinner at the Black Mountain Lodge. “What is a snowshoe dinner?” you might wonder. Well, it’s awesome! No seriously it’s a blast. Don’t eat out for a few weeks, save up, and and then you’ll owe yourself one. They hold them a few times each winter. For some of them (the ones graced by a full moon) they don’t spin the lifts, hence the snowshoeing. You skin, hike or snowshoe up the hill for dinner at 7PM. They clean up the lodge (fancy lights, black table clothes, white napkins, etc…) and present a gourmet buffet of a varying theme, as well as full bar (wine by the bottle, cocktails, beers, whatever…) and then let a bunch of smelly mountain bums pile in and feast. Once you’re good and stuffed, you schuss down by the light of the moon, happily ever after. Kelly and I decided to avail ourselves of such an event just last weekend.
Over Thanksgiving Kelly, her mom Judy and I took a scenic ride through the Colorado backcountry. We were looking for something off the beaten track that we had never seen before and would worth checking out, even if we didnt get much of a chance to get out of the car. I had heard that there was backcountry skiing in the vicinity of the East Portal and Rollins Pass. A dirt road leads all the way to the tunnel terminus, and then a 4×4 road leads up toward the pass. Skiing and hiking opportunities abound from both the portal and along the road up the pass. November was almost entirely without snow, although a few moderate storms rolled through certain areas. We weren’t really sure how far up the pass we’d get so we planned to just play it by ear, picnic wherever the road ended and then head back after a quick reconnoiter.