Archive for the ‘Local News’ Category

Record Highs in March Turn to Winter in April

Monday, April 2nd, 2012

March wasn’t exactly abundant in precip like it can be. But rather wind and sun defined Southwest Colorado’s weather last month with all-time record high temps recorded across the state. Today, however, winter makes a comeback with some moisture in the air and snow on the ground. Winds are accompanying this storm still with gusts reaching 30-40 mph.

What will April hold? Perhaps winter conditions. It wouldn’t be unusual for decent snowfall in April and May and …

San Juan Snowpack: Be Aware Out There

Wednesday, February 1st, 2012

Early season snow that evolved into a layer of large, weak faceted grains is lurking beneath the surface on nearly all aspects and elevations. The Colorado Avalanche Information Center states that while the new, upper snow layers from recent storms are gaining strength, those faceted layers beneath are not, making for a dangerous snowpack. So be on high alert in the winter backcountry and hone your avy skills with this quintessential case study, digging pits and studying snow crystals out of danger’s way.

Faceted grains are not our friends

Never taken an Avy I course? Now is the time. Matt Wade of Peak Mountain Guides is offering an Avy I hut-based trip at our Ridgway Hut, Feb. 23-26. The perfect winter classroom, and with this season’s snowpack, the perfect snow study.

Winter’s comeback in the San Juans

Monday, January 23rd, 2012

Winter made a comeback to the San Juan Mountains over the past 10 days. Overall snow totals vary area to area, but approximately three feet fell in the past three storms.  Snow above the huts is plentiful and trail access in and out is in fine winter shape. Of course, with these pulsing storms with high winds and heavy snowfall, comes high avalanche danger. High water content in the last storm should help settle out the season-long growth of faceted weak layers, but that is to be determined by Mother Nature. So while we wait…travel to the huts is a perfect alternative to poking around in high avy danger. Be safe out there.

Burn Hut

CAIC hosts two fundraisers—support your avy info center!

Wednesday, December 14th, 2011

The Colorado Avalanche Information Center reported the Northern San Juan Mountains received anywhere from six to 16 inches in the past 48 hours. And it’s still snowing. Red Mountain Pass and Silverton were favored in this storm and control work on the pass produced nine avalanches, five hit the highway.

Current CAIC Danger Rose for the Northern San Juan Mountains

This information is invaluable to backcountry users and is made possible by careful observation by the CAIC. So show your support this week. CAIC is hosting two fundraisers for folks on either side of the Sneffels Range.

Tomorrow CAIC will be at Ouray Community Center and Friday at Telluride’s Sheridan Opera House. Art Burrows will present his book Fifty Classic Ski Descents documenting iconic ski mountaineering tours of North America. A silent auction will follow and libations will be served. Doors open at 6:30 p.m. and tickets are $15 at the door.

Pacific storm approaching the San Juans

Monday, December 12th, 2011

The National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration, NOAA, is calling for snow for the San Juans beginning this afternoon and continuing through Wednesday afternoon. This Pacific storm could bring snowfall accumulations ranging from six to 12 inches in the high country … where the huts are located! Cross your fingers and think snow!

Hut approaches are in stellar condition

Monday, December 12th, 2011

Wondering what the snow conditions are like up high in the Sneffels Range? The double track road approaches to the huts are snow packed and fast, making simply the journey to the huts an athletic and visual experience—taking in the Mount Sneffels Range views from these approaches are unbeatable. A true San Juan Mountains experience. Once you’ve reached the hut, explore the terrain surrounding. We have route descriptions and GPS coordinates for surrounding tours.

Mount Sneffels seen from the road into the Blue Lakes Hut

But, as always, be prepared for early season dangers like hidden obstacles and unstable snowpack. And, as always, be backcountry aware and prepared for winter travel.

Willow Swamp & Mount Sneffels Range on Route to Blue Lakes Hut


Regional avy classes are filling fast

Wednesday, December 7th, 2011
Digging a pit in the Silverton area.  Photo by Matt Lanning

Regional avy courses are filling fast—is yours booked? Check out Silverton Avalanche School, Southwest Adventure Guides and Peak Mountain Guides for Level I and II courses. Classes begin mid-December and run through the winter. Best to take a Level I or II, a backcountry ski  or rescue course early in the season so you can put your knowledge to the test. After avy school graduation, come stay with us for half price at one of our five Sneffels Range backcountry ski huts. A perfect classroom for avy observation, digging pits, studying snow crystals, and practicing safe ski touring protocol.

Cold snap hits after the storms

Tuesday, December 6th, 2011

The San Juan Mountains welcomed another series of winter storm pulses since Saturday, and the end result? An average of about a foot of snow blanketing the region. As the skies cleared last night, the temps dropped and we saw our first cold snap of the season. Temperatures in Ridgway plummeted as low as -10. Telluride and Silverton saw similar below zero temps. Burr…

Telluride’s Bear Creek

What’s been left in the wake of the storm is inspiration to get into the winter backcountry. The Colorado Avalanche Information Center reported the Red Mountain area received about 8-10 inches, Telluride about 16 inches and Silverton, as is the norm, gladly received the most snow accumulation, about 16-20 inches.

Don’t forget to check in with CAIC forecasts and travel safely in the backcountry.

Kickoff the season in San Juan Mountain fashion

Thursday, December 1st, 2011


Regional ski resorts got the bullwheels rolling last week and got skiers and riders lapping up groomers.This weekend take a break from the groomed and try advanced, ungroomed terrain at our neighboring Silverton Mountain ski area. Opening day is Saturday and is followed by Silverton Mountain and Venture Snowboard‘s famous kickoff party at the Grand Imperial in Silverton. They’re hosting live music, door prizes and a raffle for Venture’s limited edition Ska Brewing Euphoria board.

Silverton Mountain plans to open 30 of its advanced runs with a 30-40 inch base already in place. Word is the north shots are skiing really well.

San Juan Mountains-style ski conditioning

Thursday, December 1st, 2011

It’s time to get those legs in shape for winter, and plan your San Juan Mountains ski destinations for the winter. Want to make some free turns at Silverton Mountain this year? Well, you’re going to have to stomp for it. Silverton Mountain’s annual bootpacking kickoff begins this weekend and is offered the weekend of Dec. 10 and 11. Duct tape your pants to your boots (keeps the snow out) and join Silverton’s ski patrol on the ski area to pack out the snow. Each day you work, you’ll receive a ticket for one day of unguided skiing.

With your body getting into ski mode, come trek up to our huts and make some turns on this side of the hill.