Chris and I left Boulder on Saturday morning for a day and a half of skiing in Rocky Mountain National Park. After skiing our packs up to Lake Haiyaha in Chaos Canyon, we dropped all our camping gear and proceeded to ski various chutes, gullies, and glades for the remainder of the day.
Our tracks after the first run.
Since the upper end of the canyon is part of the continental divide, and the ceaseless wind continuously blows snow from the west side of the divide to the east, we technically skied 'recycled' powder for this entire trip. The photo below demonstrates the this effect in action.
Recycled powder blowing over the continental divide into Chaos Canyon
It turned out the best skiing was right at treeline, near our camp, on northeast aspects that were somewhat protected from the wind. We made several laps in this zone, working our way down canyon to some chutes we had seen from our approach hike.
Our skiing on mellower slopes to this point helped us gain some confidence in the snowpack stability, so we deemed the steeper slopes in the Otis Redding Couloir on the northeast shoulder of Mt. Otis a reasonable ski descent.
Otis Redding Couloir
We skinned up the steep couloir just to the north of Otis Redding, leaving a well engineered skin track.
Skin track going up the right chute, ski tracks coming down the left chute
Skiing the steeper couloir was one of many highlights of the trip. Chris was kind enough to let me go first so I could then take pictures of him coming down after me. Making fresh tracks in such a beautiful couloir was heavenly.
We made it back to our camp, nearly exhausted, around dinner time. Dinner brought me back to life and we proceeded to melt snow to make water for the rest of the night before going to bed.
The next day we made a couple more runs in the area we determined had the best snow on the prior day. Our tracks from the day before were nearly filled in with recycled snow, so it was fresh tracks again. We were the only skiers in Chaos Canyon for the entire duration of our trip.
More ski tracks
We were back in Boulder by noon, just in time for me to make my date on Seal Rock with Melanie. Seal Rock is a prominent Flatiron that dominates the view from our house. As such, I have had troubles looking at it every morning with the knowledge that I had not climbed it. I knew of only one way to fix this problem.
It took Melanie and I 4.5 hours to hike from our house to the bottom of Seal Rock, climb to its summit, and return to our house. The luxury of climbing such splendid routes from your doorstep is one that is not taken for granted. We simul-climbed the route, a technique that neither of us had done before, which turned out to be as efficient as I had imagined. I led the first half of the route, while Melanie led the second half. The weather was great, and we had a terrific time on a splendidly fun route.
Mel starting the upper pitch
View from the top of Seal Rock