Archive

Archive for the ‘Ski’ Category

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.

Sneffels Half Loop is Back

Tuesday, January 24th, 2012

Are you ready to race? The Sneffels Half Loop is back. This backcountry Nordic ski race begins at Last Dollar Pass near Telluride and runs 34 miles to the town of Ouray finish on March 10. Racers and volunteers wanted, call 970.626.3033.

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

Racers get ready for the Sneffels Half Loop

Thursday, January 19th, 2012

It’s back … are you ready? The Sneffels Half Loop returns to pose a new challenge, 35 miles long. The course for this backcountry ski traverse runs from Telluride’s Last Dollar Pass to the town of Ouray making five aid station stops at our winter huts. AT, randonee or Nordic (not skate) skis are suggested for racers to take on the feat March 10.

 

 

Two courses will be open to racers, the Full Course and the Short Course. The Full Course starts at the Last Dollar Trailhead (above the Telluride airport) and entails 34.4 miles of rolling, arduous traverse to the finish at the Ouray Hot Springs Pool. Total ascent is 6,630 feet and total descent is 9,057 feet.

The Short Course also begins at the Last Dollar Trailhead but finishes at the Blue Lakes Trailhead (near Ridgway), running nearly 24 miles. Total ascent is 3,990 feet and total descent is 5,498 feet.

We’re looking for racers and volunteers–visit our website or call us at 970.626.3033.

Snow Conditions at the start of 2012!

Monday, January 9th, 2012

We just received about 4-5″ of snow over the weekend.  A little bit of an improvement to those conditions posted below on the 31st of December.  It is a good time to get out and do some mountaineering above the huts.  It is easy to get around up high!

 

December 31, 2011

Lower Hayden at North Pole Hut

Heard about the lack of snow around the American West!  Sounds grim around the country.  Fortunately WE HAVE SNOW!  Ski turns are happening.  While our snowpack hovers around 75% of the 35 year ‘norm’, here is the good news.

All ski trails to and between huts are ‘in’ (i.e. they have 1-2 ½ feet of snow).  For ‘Big Skis’ that like to turn here is the situation.  From tree line and above where there is no tree canopy to keep the snow from landing on the ground…this is where you need to be.  Typical in early season the high chutes, basins and cirques have 2 – 4 feet of snow in them.  The upper entry level to these ski runs still tend to be somewhat rocky and windblown so you have to be careful about this —‘not picking up rocks’.  The snow is faceted TG on the bottom 50% but skiable powder lies on top.  Fat skis of today make these conditions possible verses the bad old days of ‘toothpicks’.

We just had someone return from the Last Dollar Hut.  The Last Dollar chutes are on the west end of the Sneffels Range.  Due to that, plus their lower elevation, those skiers did not find good conditions for turns.  If you are willing to ‘walk’ a farther distance in, i.e. The Ridgway Hut, your snow conditions for turns will improve.  The reason being, The Ridgway Hut is tucked deep and back into the pure north face of the Sneffels Range with a 13,000-14,000 foot headwall above it.  The Ridgway Hut conditions are much higher, colder and more snow than those found at The Last Dollar Hut.

Get out and ski!

Ouray Ice Fest is On

Wednesday, January 4th, 2012

Ouray’s population is booming…with ice climbers. Tomorrow kicks off the 17th annual Ouray Ice Festival and conditions at the park are telling climbers, “get your axe in gear.” A weekend-long gear expo, nightly presentations, clinics (some free!) and evening soirees are all on schedule. After the weekend, come visit the huts and get your skis in gear.

 

Snow Conditions Report

Friday, December 30th, 2011

Lower Hayden at North Pole Hut

Heard about the lack of snow around the American West!  Sounds grim around the country.  Fortunately WE HAVE SNOW!  Ski turns are happening.  While our snowpack hovers around 75% of the 35 year ‘norm’, here is the good news.

All ski trails to and between huts are ‘in’ (i.e. they have 1-2 ½ feet of snow).  For ‘Big Skis’ that like to turn here is the situation.  From tree line and above where there is no tree canopy to keep the snow from landing on the ground…this is where you need to be.  Typical in early season the high chutes, basins and cirques have 2 – 4 feet of snow in them.  The upper entry level to these ski runs still tend to be somewhat rocky and windblown so you have to be careful about this —‘not picking up rocks’.  The snow is faceted TG on the bottom 50% but skiable powder lies on top.  Fat skis of today make these conditions possible verses the bad old days of ‘toothpicks’.

We just had someone return from the Last Dollar Hut.  The Last Dollar chutes are on the west end of the Sneffels Range.  Due to that, plus their lower elevation, those skiers did not find good conditions for turns.  If you are willing to ‘walk’ a farther distance in, i.e. The Ridgway Hut, your snow conditions for turns will improve.  The reason being, The Ridgway Hut is tucked deep and back into the pure north face of the Sneffels Range with a 13,000-14,000 foot headwall above it.  The Ridgway Hut conditions are much higher, colder and more snow than those found at The Last Dollar Hut.

Get out and ski!

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