Saturday, February 28, 2009

The Royal Arch in February

Mom came to town and I convinced her to take a little hike in the Flatirons. In the guide book the trail to the Royal Arch is only 3.5 miles long, which seems simple enough. I failed to remember the altitude gain on this trail. It turned out to be quite a hike, but mom was a trooper and made it all the way.

Coming from Moab, she wasn't too impressed with our arch. She didn't even classify it as an arch; she thinks it is two rocks leaning together. Oh well, we finished the day with some lunch at the Walnut Brewery.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Arapahoe Basin

After fighting I-70 the day before, I decided to leave the house at 6 am instead of 7. This put me up at A-Basin a little bit too early. Luckily they opened the lifts at 8:30. To start the day I took the Pallavicini Lift to Pali Face. This run has some nice steep bumps. I missed the Radical and Standard runs, but had fun on Powderkeg, Wildcat, and South-Chute. Photos 1 and 2 give you a view of the upper front side of the mountain.

A-Basin causes you to do a bit of hiking everywhere. If you just ride the Montezuma Lift you are forced to hike a couple hundred yards to reach the Zuma Cornice and the double black runs off the backside. A better strategy is to alternate from front to back. Ride the Lenawee Lift which will get you higher and you can avoid removing your skis to get to the Zuma Cornice (photo 3 with Keystone and Breckenridge in the distance). Then ride the Zuma Lift and take Falcon or the Half Moon Glades.

I had the most fun on Schauffler and Groswald. These runs are very steep but open allowing you to choose your line. At the bottom I had fun on Eureka: a short run through the trees. The Torreys and Grays runs look a lot longer on the map than I found them to be. I was hoping for more tree skiing. Maybe I missed something.

Later in the day I took Exhibition which is a great mogul run right under the lift. I was a bit tired so didn't display my best exhibition to the folks on the lift. I ended the day with a nice little blue find called North-Fork. It makes a nice combo with the TB Glade which offers easy tree skiing.

I like A-Basin for its easy access. You can park right on the slope and have a BBQ. Of course you must arrive early to get a spot in the "Early Riser" lot. The snow was mostly very packed which was the only downside for the day. I guess I could have crossed the highway and gone off-piste. Check out the nice carvings in the last photo.

Saturday, February 21, 2009


Why write about ski areas? Mainly for my own beta in case I go back. If you find it interesting great. I will return to the back country for some snow climbs and descents within a month.

Traffic was brutal again on I70. I parked in free lot and rode the new Gondola up. There were long lift lines everwhere. I kept going up trying to get away from the crowds, but even Imperial was crowded. I rode the Imperial Express Lift three times and enjoyed the above tree line skiing. From the last ride up I took the Magic Carpet Ride run. It was steep and powdery and highly recommended. Below the carpet ride there is some fun tree skiing on the Independance Chair, but way too many blue runs.

It took some time to work my way to Peak 9. Chair C seemed hopeful as a black, but the run was closed for racers. The blues were way to easy so I made my way to Chair E. Finally I found some steeps with trees. I decided to ski here for awhile and really had fun. My 153 K2 Apaches were awesome in the turns.

At 2:30 I decided to check out Peak 10. The blacks here were quite easy. The burn was fun bumps in trees. I was too late to hit the double blacks off to the right on Peak 10.

Overall the mountain is too much a resort... not for locals. Plus the price of $92 per day is too expensive. The long lift lines and two bus transfers to get back to free lot compounded the problems here. Oh well, it was worth a shot. Where next? A-Basin or Winter Park.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Eldora Mountain Resort

At the base of the Indian Peaks is a quiet little resort called Eldora. It may be the closest resort to my house not counting Echo Mountain. It reminds me alot of my home resort Powderhorn. You can still see the signs of days gone by here. From the top of the Corona lift you get a nice view of, what is it, Parry Peak (photo 1)?

Glade skiing is the point here. This is a great area to learn the art of tree skiing. This place has more tree charm than most. For an introduction, start between the runs on Challenge lift like Powderhorn and Jolly Jug, then progress to the Jolly Jug glades (photo 2). From there go to the Bryan Glades (photo 3). The Bryan Glades were at the limits of my abilities/fun. The trees are a little tighter at top, then the run drops into a creek bed. I lost a ski trying to make a tight turn; my sign that this was my match. I know many are more advanced and can handle the Placer Glades, the Salto, and the Moose Glades. I hope to join you next time. For a mid-forties, mid-skilled skier I like the change of pace that the glades allow. I move slow, make some jump turns, snow plow a bit, then gain just a little speed when I can find a run out.

This is a good resort if you like groomed expert runs. Corona, Cascade, and Challenge are all easy black diamonds. The damn mule shoe was no fun: hard ass pack bordering on icy. Maybe the easterners are used to hard pack, but coming from Loveland; I didn't enjoy it. The one good bump run is called Psycopath (photo at bottom.)

The blue groomers are non-descript other than to say I don't completely understand the categorization. Some such as Powderhorn seem as hard as the blacks, and some blacks such as Klondike seem like they should be blue.

I-70 may be a bitch, but there was a wreck on US 36 which cost me 40 minutes. I would like to return to Eldora, but is it an easier commute than the corridor resorts? The jury is out. Next up: Breckenridge. Later in the season: A-Basin. Maybe Monarch if M want to take a soak at the Princeton Hot Springs.

Thursday, February 05, 2009

Mountaineering Goals 2009

I'm putting it out there for all to see. That way there will be motivation for me to complete my goal. Here are my mountaineering goals for 2009:

Mount Whitney -- I plan to climb the highest peak in the lower 48 with Brian, John, and Miles sometime in July. I hope to take the Class 3 route.

Ellingwood Ridge on La Plata -- After Dalton and I turned back half way in, I must return to conquer it.

Mount Sneffels, Southwest Ridge -- Close to my western slope roots and a Class 3 climb, I will knock this one off some time while visiting family in Grand Junction.

Capitol Peak -- The test piece for knife edges could be my first Elk summit.

Little Bear-Blanca Traverse -- One of the top four 14er traverses. 5.0-5.2 free solo climbing, yeah I think I'm ready.

Crestone Peak -- The Needle is my personal favorite so far, so I want to return to the Sangres. I can knock out a few extra 14ers here too: Humboldt, Challenger, and Kit Carson.

And for extra credit: Long's Peak Keiner's Route. I will take a guided trip with CMS.

For inspiration I've included a few photos from last year's Kokopelli Trip and a few links to some awesome climbing: