Wednesday, November 9, 2011

TR: Dry Gulch - 11.8.2011

Yesterday Erik and I went up to Dry Gulch, one of our favorite early season touring zones on the Front Range. Just like last week we hadn't heard the most positive reports about the supportability of the snowpack, and these last couple storms had been a bit disappointing; but we've had good experience here in the past, so we thought we'd check it out anyways.

Mt. Sniktau
Despite the fact that almost no snow fell during the "storm" the night before and it was sunny out, it was snowing lightly as we started skinning. These beautiful, light, glittery flurries would continue all day.


As is usual early season in Dry Gulch, there was very little snow on the valley floor, making for an interesting stream and willow crossing.


As we started skinning up the valley wall we encountered the snow we had been warned about: 18" to 24" of completely unsupportable snow. It was like breaking trail through 18" of new snow as we essentially skinned along the ground. Needless to say this was a fair amount of work; it took us 2.5 hours from the car to the saddle on Trelease.



But we were rewarded with great turns, the snow was soft and supportable above treeline. I had a great time watching Erik rip down through the light falling snow.

Erik in his happy place
Below treeline the snow transitioned into the less supportable snow we had encountered on the skin up. But, it deep enough that it wasn't a problem and, if anything, made for better skiing. I tapped a few rocks, but nothing to be upset about.

Mike
Erik
Reaching the bottom of our lap we switched back to our skins and set out to find our old skin track. We found it quickly, but for some odd reason decided to not rejoin with it immediately. I don't know exactly what we were thinking here (maybe something about not wanting to skin over rocks???), but setting a new skin track a second time certainly was a good workout! By about a third of the way up both Erik and I were feeling completely beat. I couldn't really place my finger on what it was, just assuming that I was really out of shape. This lap we decided to stop at treeline, where I checked the time. It had taken us only 30 minutes to skin back up, no wonder I was feeling tired!!!!

The second lap we skied just left of the first lap. It was even better. I didn't hit the bottom once and watched Erik get a several ymmuy faceshots.

Erik
Erik
As Erik pulled up to me at the bottom we both had a smile on our face, Dry Gulch had delivered again.