April 03, 2006

Snow Magnets

I recently returned from an 8 day road trip, the majority of which was spent in the southwest quadrant of Colorado. My friend, Adam, drove to Boulder from Rolla, Missouri, arriving on Saturday morning. After breakfast, he hopped in my car and we drove up the hill to Eldora. We skied at the resort from about noon until 4, continuing on to the Aspen area. On the way we stopped in Frisco to see Dane and in Minturn (close to Vail) to see Kate. Eventually, we made it to El Jebel, aka the Aspen Trailer Park. El Jebel is a small town about 1/2 hour north of Aspen. We stayed there for 3 nights with Adam's friend, Petar. Petar is a Croatian who makes a living by winning skateboarding contests and instructing private snowboard lessons at Aspen and Snowmass. The night before we arrived he ran his snowboard through a bandsaw, effectively cutting it in half lengthwise, creating what is aptly referred to as a split board.

Our first day there, we did some backcountry skiing out of Marble. This was Petar's first backcountry experience, and first experience using a split board. On the hike up, he only managed to get stuck in one treewell. When he rejoined Adam and me 1/2 hour later, he was thoroughly covered in snow. Despite the fact that it hadn't snowed much recently, the snow at the top half of our run was fantastic. Dropping off a small cornice at the top of the run landed one in a field of snow deeper and softer than expected.

The next day, Petar had to work, so Adam and I went back to the same area in the morning for another great run. At 3:00, we found ourselves at the Snowmass ski area. So close to closing time, the lifties no longer check for ski passes, so we got a free ride to the top of the resort - our first poach of the trip. We proceeded to have a long, sensational run off the back side, followed by the standard round of beers back at the car.

Tuesday morning we drove from Aspen to Ouray. At some point, Adam figured out that he left his crampons in Missouri. We had planned to ice climb in Ouray, so the crampon situaion needed to be remedied. This was accomplished at the local climbing shop where Adam purchased a pair of $200 monopoint crampons. While in town, we restocked the ice chest with Blue Paddle. We drove up Camp Bird road as far as we could, stopping at the base of a small slab of ice. We were eying a climb known as the Ribbon across the valley. Since it was late in the day, we opted to camp and try the climb in the morning. But exaclty how to camp needed to be decided. Adam's idea was to climb the 30 foot section of ice next to the car - Alpine Style - and camp at the top of it. After loading our packs with all our camping gear, we slogged 125 feet to the base of the climb. Adam led the short pitch with his full pack and a Hibachi Grill attached. I followed on my fist ice climb, also with a full pack, no grill. After an epic, gruelling climb, we set up the tent, and began the arduous process of barbequeing steak, no more than 500 feet from the car. Then it started snowing.

Our intended route for the next day was prone to avalanching during and immediatly after any and all storms. Since it was still snowing when we woke up and two slides came down the gully over night, we opted to travel to Telluride for some skiing. We rolled into Telluride around 9:00 in the moring, picked up a free pass and a half price pass from Adam's friend Eric, and skied the resort for the rest of the day. There was about 6 inches of fresh snow, and the Telluride terrain is steeper than most of Colorado, making for great skiing and a tiring day. On the subject of Adam's friend: his name is ERIC ZUARO, and Adam knew him from Vermont where he grew up. Eric's ski pass must have been something less than legitimate, because both R's in his name were partially whited out. The result - EPIC ZUAPO. Long story short, instead of paying $80 each for a left ticket, we paid the equivilent of $19.

This is getting long . . .

Thursday - 12" of fresh snow at Telluride. Had to ski the resort again. Totally sick! Drove to Red Mountain Pass between Ouray and Silverton, skied in about 1000 feet, set up camp, drank beer.

Friday - Hiked up a mountian, looked down at Silverton, got sunburned, skied down the mountain, grilled some brats, drove to Durango. We met up with Molly and Phil in Durango and joined them for a feast at Gaucho's, the local Brazilian restaurant. Possibly the best restaurant in the world, Gaucho's offered all you can eat meat for $22. They had somewhere around a dozen different types of meat. On the walk home from the eatery, Molly rolled her ankle, which swelled instantly.

Saturday - We had tentatively planned to ski with Molly and Phil at either Wolf Creek or Purgatory (I refuse to refer to Purgatory as DMR 'Durango Mountain Resort'). Since Molly couldn't ski, and she had travelled to Durango to spend time with Phil, Adam and I took off for Wolf Creek Pass, 2 hours from Durango and on the way back to Boulder. The snow continued to fall heavily, "hucking chunks". We stopped in Pagosa Springs and spent about an hour in one of the steaming hot pools next to the river. We finally made it to the pass, and did a backcountry run on the opposite side of the highway from the Wolf Creek ski resort. More fabulous snow. Noticing it was 3:00, we helped dig out a stuck F-350 and hurried to the resort for some more end-of-the-day poached ski runs. When they stopped letting us on the lift, we drove back to Boulder.

Pictures to come . . .


Keith said...


melanie said...

Your job must love vacation! You've already managed an 8 day road trip and you'll be in Korea for a total of 2 weeks in a little over a month!
Totally wicked!!!!!!!!!!!!!

epic zuapo said...