Archive

Posts Tagged ‘Snow Conditions’

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

Last Minute Last Dollar Hut Opening!

Wednesday, February 15th, 2012

What’s typically one of our busiest weekends of winter, Presidents’ Day weekend has a last minute opening at the Last Dollar Hut. We’re in the heart of winter with plenty of new snowfall and skiing into the huts couldn’t be more picturesque.

Last Dollar Hut (10,980′) sits 300 feet and 1/4 mile above Last Dollar Pass. There are direct views across the San Miguel River canyon and the north faces of the Wilson Range.

Last Dollar Hut is also our furthest hut west and closest to Telluride. So make some turns at the Telluride Ski Area and join us for a night at the huts.

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.

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

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!

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!

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