Friday, April 29, 2011

Jones Pass Sled Skiing - 4.28.2011

As seems to be the trend lately yesterday was again quite a show. Driving down 93 from Boulder my car overheated, which has never happened to it before, although I do have quite a bit of experience with overheated cars! We made it to Golden with the heat on full blast and the windows open. Once we started going slightly uphill up Clear Creek Canyon we quickly realized Sherman was quite ill and had Matt come pick us up. This was of course complicated by the snowmobile we were towing behind Sherman. Unfortunately Matt's car has a 1 7/8" hitch and my trailer needs a 2 inch hitch, so the drive to Idaho springs was done very slowly. In Idaho Springs we switched over to Matt's truck which required finding its hitch and moving our gear into another car a third time.

As we left Idaho Spring we heard that there had been a death at Jones Pass, and as we pulled up search and rescue was leaving. Assuming it had been an avalanche death we were especially careful yesterday. When we got back to Matt's we found out that it was actually a suicide, which was even more tragic than an avalanche death.

Initially we had hoped to build a jump to session with the sled, but all the snow was heavily wind affected, fine for skiing in but rather terrifying to land in. Matt and I did some exploring in the southern basin of Jones pass, found one really really awesome jump location, but were not comfortable with the large cornice hanging over it. Also, there was significant evidence of very recent large natural avalanche activity. Given the snow conditions and stability we decided to just lap some mellow 800 ft east facing bowls in the north basin. I'm proud to say the new ski rack works really well and that we did the trickiest tandem pow sledding we have done yet. Also, the trandem set up works quite well, but we weren't able to get up everything trandeming that we could tandeming. I think that the extra weight over the back just sinks the track too much in deeper/steeper snow.

New Ski Rack!!!!

Sled Skiing!!!!

 We never gained the ridges over the zone primarily because of our concerns with avy danger, and there are definitely limited ridge access points because of the large cornices over most of the ridge line, but I think there are 2 points that you may be able to gain the ridge on a sled which would add some incredible options to sled skiing there. Without that the options are pretty mediocre.

On a final note, I am blown away by how far the snowpack is away from a typical spring snowpack. There is several feet of unconsolidated snow sitting on top of the last sun crust, and much more in places. This is compounded with the fact that the snow down low is now starting to be significantly affected by the sun and warm spring temperatures, making the push to get into the alpine all the more tempting.