The big storms of mid-to-late January have produced excellent backcountry skiing and some lively conditions for avalanche courses. Since January 16th the San Juans have received over 3 feet of snow, most of it coming in “right-side-up” storms that have started warm and finished cold, making the surface snow cold, dry, and soft – which is primo for skiing. The big load has also tested the snowpack’s strength, creating a perfect learning environment for our avalanche courses. We’ve been out enjoying the nice skiing as well as the great conditions for avalanche education. Following are some photos from our recent trips.
We had a great AIARE Level 1 Avalanche Course over New Year’s weekend. The interesting snowpack conditions made for good learning opportunities and we skied some good snow too! Following are some photos from the course.
Chad and I (Matt) had our first day of the ski season yesterday (11/8). We skied great boot-top powder on North facing terrain in Commodore Basin. There was 4″ of fluffy new snow capping a substantial 3 foot deep snowpack. The skiing was very smooth and predictable, and lots of fun! In fact, it was pretty outstanding for November 8th! Following are some photos from our day:
The seasonal snowfall record for the Northern San Juans has been broken! A whopping 465″ of snow fell on Red Mountain Pass this season, surpassing the previous record of 445″ set in 1992-93. There is currently a tremendous amount of snow in the mountains and it is likely late-May and June will offer some of the best spring skiing conditions we have seen in years.
Yes, it’s true, today was a powder day. And with 9″ of new, cold snow it was a really good powder day! Actually, for May 11, it was pretty remarkable. Here are some photos from the “Serpentine” ski descent Jack and I did on Red Mountain #2.
The seasonal snowfall total for the Northern San Juans has reached 415″, which is just 15″ shy of the seasonal snowfall record for the range! Our recent 4-day storm deposited nearly four feet of snow, which was like like Christmas in April for skiers. Here are a few photos from the highway department’s avalanche control work on Red Mountain Pass yesterday:
Trond and I had a wonderful day of backcountry skiing and avalanche awareness last Thursday. We skied in Commodore Basin – just down the road from the summit of Red Mountain Pass – and we found really nice powder and good stability on the North aspect of the basin. For our first run we skied “Grandma’s Couloir”, a 35+ degree chute with just enough room for two tracks.
We had a very successful Level 2 Avalanche Course last week with Cory, Cullen, JP, Craig, Roger, and Jon. We spent most of our time on advanced topics such as multiple burial companion rescue; techniques for recording snow, weather, and avalanche observations; proper execution of full and test profiles; and effective use of observations for appropriate terrain selection and decision making. The full days and constant flow of information made it a powerhouse course for everyone.
Erica and I had a fantastic day of skiing and avalanche education near Ironton yesterday. We skied the line recently referred to as “Brooklyn’s Finest”, located just above Brooklyn Gulch on the East side of Ironton Park. It was a beautiful sunny day with excellent snow conditions and good snow stability.
Today Chad Peele and I skied an intriguing line above Brooklyn Gulch, near Ironton. The excellent snow and fine gladed tree skiing led us to call the area “Brooklyn’s Finest”. Here is a shot of Chad enjoying the great terrain and snow: