Archive

Posts Tagged ‘Skiing’

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 …

Sneffels Half Loop Caught on Camera

Wednesday, March 14th, 2012

Racer Marcel Medued kept an accurate account of race stats–or rather his Garmin did. Photo courtesy of Summer Ruckman

Post-race Corona with racer Rick Murray and Joe Ryan, in the background, looking for his own. Photo courtesy of Summer Ruckman

Racer Jaimie Palmer dons a cardboard visor in true Sneffels Half Loop fashion: practical, raw and nothing fancy. Photo courtesy of Summer Ruckman

Top Five Finishers: (left to right) Pat O’Neil (fifth-5:49:30), Scott Simmons (second-5:25:44), Brian Smith (first-5:25:39), Billy Laird (third-5:39:56), and Janelle Smiley (fourth-5:45:36). Photo courtesy of Summer Ruckman

Post race burger and beer party with grill meister Andy Krueger at the helm serving up racers Joe Ryan, Lance Waring and Baker Bent. Photo courtesy of Summer Ruckman

After the race, Baker Bent slipped into something more comfortable, or did he? Baker’s dressed in his girlfriend’s skinny jeans. Race organizer Nikki Campbell looks on in wonder. Photo courtesy Summer Ruckman

Word on the Trail: Current Snow Conditions

Wednesday, March 14th, 2012

NOAA 7-Day Forecast: Sunny.

March has been what the Colorado Avalanche Information Center calls just plainly “unusual.” Ridgway’s high temperatures this week should reach the upper 50s and near the same in our neighboring mountain towns. Spring has sprung.

The snow is still holding on the trails and “now’s the time to go high,” says Joe Ryan. Spring skiing should be shaping up and while the avalanche danger has dropped, springtime snowpack and wet avalanches are a big concern. Caution is still advised. And trips into the huts are a nice safe alternative.

 Friday

Mostly Sunny

Hi 55 F

Sneffels Half Loop Coming Right Up

Monday, February 27th, 2012

Are you ready to race? Hard to believe March is upon us, and so too is the Sneffels Half Loop backcountry ski race.

We’ve got the details covered, you only need to show up gear-ready. Bring a sleeping bag and pad for a good night’s rest at the Ridgway Elementary School gym the night before race day. We’ll have a spaghetti feed that evening before race day at the school, and transportation to the race start the day of.

After the race, there could be no better nourishment than burgers and beer at the True Grit in Ridgway. Because you deserve it.

Join us March 10!

How Pre-GPS Homo Sapiens Followed Trails

Saturday, February 25th, 2012

As we enter the modern navigation era of GPS tracks, Google Earth files, and Spot devices, we also want to help our more modern guests with some of the tried and true navigation practices of days gone by. What would you do if your GPS fails? Here is a synopsis, from most to least obvious, of how we have found our way around the mountains for many years.

Trail Signs: It is easier than you think to pass a wooden sign on the side of the trail when your mind is wandering and your eyes are fixed on the trail ahead or the mountains above. Trail signs may refer to the name, number, or destination of the trail so it is helpful to have a good topographic map with you.

Trail Markers: Trail markers of various sizes and colors can be found in many areas along the trails. These vary from blue diamonds with reflective tape in the center, to painted mettle strips hammered into trees, to orange flagging. Trail markers are less reliable than Blazes (see below) as they often fall off, are torn down, or fade in the sunlight.

Blazes: Blazes are etched into tree bark and are the shape of a lower case ‘i’. They are often found about head hight (when there is no snow) and on both sides of trees to mark the trail from both directions. In the San Juans many of the blazes are old and the shape is often contorted, but once you train your eye to find them, you will see them all along the trails. Learning to see the blazes is well worth your time as they are the most prolific and universal trail marking.

Cairns: Cairns are piles of rocks that people have built alongside a path to mark it. Most Cairns will not be visible in the winter but you may encounter a few along windswept alpine ridges. Be aware that Cairns are easy to build and not all who build them are marking the best path.

The Path Itself: Sometimes the path can be hard to see with new snow covering it. Look for an indented ‘snake’ where the snow has been compressed by previous travelers. Also remember to look up, as the path will often be discernible by the space between the trees above.

All of these will help you stay on the trail and find your way with nothing but your eyes. We also advise that you bring a good topo map and compass and know how to use them. GPS and other modern tools can be extremely useful, we just hope that our guests don’t rely too heavily upon them. Besides, following a trail without one can be invigorating and force you to be more aware of your surroundings, the majestic San Juan Mountains. Stay tuned for more on how to make a reliable tour plan.

By Kelly Ryan

Storms Start Rolling through the San Juans

Tuesday, February 14th, 2012

“The deepest accumulations will be in the San Juan Mountains,” reads the Colorado Avalanche Information Center’s forecast today. We’ll take that.

The last few weeks we’ve seen several feet of snow fall in our corner of the state and across Colorado. And while a weak system exits our region after last weekend’s storm, the next series of stronger Pacific storms will begin Sunday.

With all of this new load, still the snowpack remains very unstable. Avalanche danger is high and widely varying, precarious conditions exist. And sadly, Colorado had its fifth avalanche fatality in the side country of the Telluride Ski Area on Sunday.

According to CAIC, this recent storm “translates to an inch or more of water loaded onto a weak snowpack.” We’ll take that, too–into serious consideration.

Be safe out there.

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.