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!