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.
After seeing the promising early season snowpack decimated by the Christmas rain event, Kelly and I opted to skip the resort scene and head out for a light winter hike. Now that we’re committed to a backcountry Montana excursion, some extra conditioning certainly couldn’t hurt. An arctic front was firmly entrenched in the Whites for New Years weekend, bringing with it bitter cold and blustery conditions. Not wishing to repeat our desperate scree-scramble atop Mt. Washington amid gale force winds, we selected a route substantially below treeline: Carter Notch via 19 Mile Brook Trail.
Before Winter 14-15 gets into gear (which seemingly won’t be for a while as of this writing) a couple of nagging issues have to be addressed with our adventure mobile. Firstly, the second generation Xterra in it’s factory configuration tends to bottom out when hauling ass over big potholes and rough roads. No fun when riding to or from the mountains exhausted at 10:30 PM. And second, the infamous Thule tried to sabotage my new carbon fiber skis last winter and such behavior wouldn’t be tolerated again!
Update: Don’t Buy K2 Skis!
These suckers delaminated after just a few weekends of use. One or two days after they first started to delam, a whole chunk of base material fell away right next to the blown edge. I thought I’d get away with skiing them for the rest of season, but the damage spiraled downhill so quickly that I decided to send them back to K2 before it got any worse. When K2 got ahold of them, they just couldn’t believe that the edge separated before the base material started to fall off and assumed that must have hit something really hard. To my recollection, I never hit anything and the specific order of events was 1) delam and 2) base falls off. In any event, they only lasted like 12 days (tops) and now their collecting dust in the K2 warehouse. I’m done with K2 skis, as this is the second pair I’ve owned with lasted less than 20 days on snow. Not sure what the hell I’m gonna do with Hardside Custom skis – maybe REI will take them back, because I surely have no use for them now.