Joined: 07 Dec 2004 Posts: 402 Location: Denver, CO
Posted: Tue Jan 09, 2007 6:00 am Post subject: The Trifecta TR
Better late than never, right?
Photo credits: The first photo is by Summit...all others by me...which is less about credit and more about not blaming someone else for the crappy photos. More narration this time, too (which may not be a good thing).
Inspired by iskibc & co's work the day before, we decided to make our own foray into the Gores. With no exact plan, we started skinning until we could get a better look at the options. We selected what looked to be a juicy slope--a rib/shoulder of a small peak--and began our ascent. An occasional probe with the ski pole into the snow surrounding the skin track elicited excitement...12-18" of light, fluffy snow. It was going to be good.
But, as we got higher up, and started traversing to our intended descent, the winds were on the increase, and the snow...well, not so light, not so fluffy, and not so deep.
Press on or turn around? Going back wasn't overly appealing. The snow was great...but the terrain was particularly flat...it would be hard to get enough speed to really enjoy the deep. Based on the wind direction, we were hoping we could see a slightly different aspect that was a bit more sheltered from the wind, and find good turns. So, we pressed on.
When we came around to the shoulder, and looked at the other side, the wind was still pretty strong, and it looked like the face that was probably building a pretty good windslab. Turn back? Well, we might as well dig a pit. So, we found a mellow pitched spot just above a rollover to dig. Windslab indeed...and many times, we couldn't even get a column separated before it would fracture and release on a melt/freeze suncrust, from the warmer/dry spell that had proceeded for several days. I had mixed feelings about the next weak layer in the pack... while it was only a few inches, and probably would act more like a slough, there was a high probability at least that top layer would move...and maybe it would be enough to load to step down to the next layer...which would make for a large avalanche. We were also looking at that steep rollover just ahead of us, where possibly more snow could be loaded in, and the pack would probalby be even more sensitive there. Summit and I really didn't have to discuss too much...we didn't like what we were seeing, and decided to back off that line, and find something a bit more mellow. Just a bit further down the shoulder, the roll evened out to where there really wasn't a role, and the slope was closer to 30 degrees.
I made a couple of good cuts in the snow, and sure enough, the thin windslab broke loose below my cut. The slope wasn't steep, and it only really broke were I cut hard, so the path was small, and slow moving. But, it confirmed we had made the right decision. It also became apparent the pack was quite thin the further down we went. Turns were exposing grass. Again, not an issue given the slope we chose, but confirming to our decision.
So, the skiing wasn't as prime as I had hoped. I tried to direct Summit from below to go even further down the shoulder, as the pack seemed a bit deeper further skiers right. Despite condtions that were much less than we had hoped, given the snow on the early part of the skin, Summit made the most of it:
It was mostly cloudy, but the sun was peeking through and the warm air had softened up the snow to more of a cream on this aspect...
Summit, with snorkel ready for the deep we had anticipated.
Pow4Brains, Rob, Holmes, John, fortysix&2, Jim, spthomson
Pow4Brains worked hard with Rob and Holmes on Friday to put in a sled track, afer the front range's 2nd big storm in 2 weeks. On Saturday, we headed back in. Shortly after we pulled up to the winter closure, fortysix&2 and his crew pulled up. I've skied with fortysix&2 in a couple other places before, so it was fun to run into him at yet another locale.
Holmes had great ambitions that his modified SUV would be able to charge past the closure, but not too far in, they found that wasn't going to work. So, Pow4Brains dropped me at the base of mountain, and went back to shuttle some more guys up. fortysix&2 and Jim are skinning animals, and decided to work the 6 mile trek human-powered. John has a 'bile racing background, so he was going to try and blaze a trail with the beast in the deep and challenging snow, as we hoped to set a track and do some easy laps. It was slow going, having to dig out a couple of times. Then, Holmes had to leave early, so Pow4Brains had to return him to the start point. The day was slipping by, and we weren't half way up yet. John was feeling crappy after a late night of drinking, so he returned to the bottom to chill out, while Rob and I started skinning.
Much of the snow was farily wind affected, so for the most part, skinning wans't too bad. We got to the top, chilled out for 10 to get a snack, and prepared for our descent. Pow4Brains decided it was just getting too late, and he wouldn't join us for the descent. Rob and I skied the upper pitch, which wasn't too bad, considering the winds. As we readied for the next section, we spotted fortysix&2 and Jim skinning up through the trees. Despite having to skin 6 extra miles, given our challenges with the sled, they ended up not being far behind at all. They decided to not go all the way to the top, and join us for the descent from there.
Pretty good turns ensued, on a beautiful Colorado day. (I was so far away, and I'm not sure I was working the zoom properly, so I tried blowing these up a bit...but I'm working with crappy software and no experience/knowledge with photo editing):
Where's Rob? (Jim is the snowboarder easily spotted on the right)
Nice "board action" - Jim hangin 10 on the wave of snow!
Can you find Jim in this one?
Thanks to Pow4Brains for all your work with and provision of the sled, and for sacrificing turns for others. :yourock:
Monday night killclimbz gave me a call with an idea, and I was game. killclimbz has been a great partner and mentor over the past few years, having been my first bc partner. Thanks, G, for all the excellent guiding and turns over the years.
Due to our conflicting schedules, this was the first chance we had to get out together this winter. Conditions were very windy (no surprise for the IPW) at the TH, but there were few cars, and once we got into the trees, the winds weren't too bothersome. Again, snow along the skintrack was still nice and soft...probably had consolidated down to about 12", so it was looking good, but today, I was just happy to be outside and enjoying exploring a new area.
It was a pretty good slog, and as we climbed higher, we were again met with strong winds. We skinned to just below treeline, and out along the ridge to where the trees thinned. Smaller cornices lined the ridge from the strong winds. While we were scoping out lines, killclimbz was still a ways off the cornice edge, but was able to trigger a very small windslab release. It was only the top few inches...similar to what I had seen in the first TR. But, this released from several feet away, just from a little pressure on that cornice. Things were obviously tender. So, we backed down the ridge to where the trees were thicker, and the slope more mellow, and dropped in from there.
Of course, with the winds and cold temps, my camera batteries quickly fizzled (note to self: extra batteries for camera in pack), but I managed to snap a few:
killclimbz dropping in, with his dog Cody right behind
We had gotten a leisurely start, and it was a decent skin in, so we only got one more run before making our way back out. The trail was flat for the first section out for a bit...but not long enough to make it wortwhile to split the board. Here's killclimbz postholing his way out. This was his most dignified, though not most effective, method. You're welcome, G.
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