In preparation for my first tour of the year, I lugged my new skis and boots out into the backyard and practiced getting in an out of my new Dynafit Beast 16 Bindings in the patchy snow. The 16 is essentially a rare beast, given its niche market, and two years in production followed by discontinuation. Why I’ve elected to use such an unusual apparatus is a story for another post – my intent here is to establish their rarity and my lack of familiarity with them. Indeed, upon picking them up mounted to my new skis from the shop, I had to be shown how to use them.
Between Christmas, Thanksgiving, illness, house projects, lack of snow, and a laundry list of other dumb excuses, we hadn’t managed to get on snow until MLK weekend. We fired up Xterrible at 5:36 in the AM and made good time on the highway until we got to Golden on I-70 at which time traffic ground to a crawl. Fast forward three excruciating hours to 8:30 AM, and we found ourselves standing in a humongous line in the A-Basin base lodge hoping to fill up on Huevos Rancheros and bad coffee. Regarding first chair: all hope was long since abandoned.
This is easily one of my favorite hikes of the year, both because it satisfies the ‘well-rounded adventure’ requirement and because of the amazing variety of terrain. It’s in the Indian Peaks Wilderness, which is accessed via 4th of July Road. Passing through the town of Eldora and riding up the 4th of July road is cool enough, and if you have a stout 4×4 you can mercifully knock a mile or so off of the 15 mile total. Depending on the weather, this may also prevent you from having to walk an appreciable distance through a giant puddle. Either way, you add a short but mildly technical off-road jaunt to your otherwise human-powered day. As icing on the cake, the final stretch deters most motorists, leaving the limited parking at the end of the road a pretty good bet.
After over a year of ogling, I’ve finally managed to tick off a big line in Colorado. Various recon trips, scenic car rides, and guide books had stoked my fervor to get after some burly skiing, and with Kelly’s encouragement to go do something crazy without her, I started poking around on the internet looking for a backcountry shred crew.