Sunday, December 11, 2011

Berthoud Pass - 12.11.2011

Originally Ryan and I had been planning on checking out Geneva Basin today, but after a late night last night and low confidence on snow on Guanella Pass we decided to go for an easier option.

Driving up the pass, I was excited to see what looked like good snow in Floral Park and Hells Half Acre. So, we started out with the quick skin up to the top of HHA. Sure enough, the snow was quite nice at the top, but as soon as the pitch rolled over it turned into the worst snow I have skied all year: six inches of facets on top of rocks and logs.

After surviving HHA, we headed over to the west side:


As we reached the top we saw this interesting slide. I don't know what happened here. Skier triggered? Did they decide to ski on the slide bed surface? Weird.


To our south Russel shoulder looked like it was holding some of the best snow in the area:
 From the west side summit Ryan and I skied the South Chute Roll. The snow pack was still shallow here, but more supportable and stable.
 Then we wrapped around the corner to drop into the 90s. Which started with some challenging skiing through  the rocks, followed by challenging skiing through facets, rocks, and logs...
 Ryan then triggered a very small loose snow avalanche which slid on the ground or the melt freeze crust directly above it. I was not happy to be here, as just to the skiers right we observed another similar and larger slide. Slides of this size would normally not have been a worry, but here with a shallow & unsupportable snowpack and rocks everywhere there would have been no outrunning these.


Admittedly I was tempted to leave at this point, but we figured we would try one more run. We headed back up the west side ski track. The late afternoon winter light was beautiful:


Looking northeast towards the Arapahoe massif, Arikaree and Navajo:


This time we headed down through the meadows area. It was awesome: supportable snow and all sorts of fun little windlips to jump off. Remembering the conditions in the 90s the previous run, we headed farther west to Log Chute. The snow was well consolidated there, and we both appreciated being able to ski without worrying about plunging to our deaths on a rock.