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Archive for the ‘Colorado Ski Conditions’ Category

Colorado Hut System: 10th Mtn Jackal Hut Backcountry Ski Trip

Sunday, March 24th, 2013

This guest post comes from Josh Whitney, a Boulder, CO-based pro mountain biker, cyclocrosser and lover of all things alpine. Josh occasionally contributes his trip reports, reviews and inspired mountain ramblings from the Rocky Mountain West to Tahoe Mountain Sports. His blog at josh-whitney.com blends bike racing and mountain adventures with musings on his day job in business, technology and sustainability.

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The stoke meter on winter 2013 hit the red zone over the second half of February in Colorado, and has been full gas ever since. (more…)

Colorado Ski Conditions Check-In: Monarch, Silverton

Friday, January 7th, 2011

Matt Samelson of Boulder, Colorado, brings us this second update on Colorado ski conditions. Though Matt resides some 1,500 miles away from our brick-and-mortar store at Lake Tahoe, the former Couloir magazine editor is a loyal online TMS customer. Look for his series of Colorado Ski Conditions Check-ins on our blog this winter.

The central and northern Rockies had been getting hammered for more than a week. Then the Colorado snow pattern normalized just after Christmas. The snow spigot turned south and the San Juans got absolutely crushed. My brother Mike was turning 30 on December 29, and the plan was to ski Silverton the next day, Thursday. With Siverton only open Thursday to Sunday, there was going to be some serious snow awaiting us. And then it really started snowing.

I had just mounted a new pair of 22 Design Axl bindings to my Moment Belafonte skis. Now I know that the free pivot climbing tele binding is old hat for most folks now. But I hadn’t experienced — hadn’t even tried them out. Because I knew that when I did, I would need a pair. Well, I finally gave them a trial run up the shoulder of Mount Royal toward Peak 1 in Frisco, and I was right; I did need a pair of them. The free pivot through deep snow was smooth, and making steep kick turns was effortless. It felt just like an AT setup without the indignity of having to lock your heels for the descent.

En route to Silverton, Mike and I caught up with our friends Garth and Sandy from Gunnison. They are on the snowpacking crew at Monarch, and a plan started brewing. Garth and Sandy seem to be friendly with most everybody in the Gunnison Valley, which is a good way for plans to get hatched. Sandy agreed to meet us on Monarch Pass for a quick tour, and Garth headed to the resort to snowpack. But after one lap near the power line off the pass, Garth called. About an hour later, Mike, Sandy, and I joined the regular snowpacking crew at the base of the resort. One release form and a chair lift ride later, we were climbing into the back of a cat.

I had heard stories and looked at the topography from afar, but had never ventured into the Monarch snowcat terrain before. It’s impressive. Lots of chutes.  Nicely spaced trees. And amazing snow that day. We tromped around with the crew for a couple of hours, made a couple of nice turns, and generally had a great time poking around the area. And it was still snowing.

Originally, Mike and I were going to fire down the road to Telluride to catch up with our brother Scott and other family members in preparation for the “big day” at Silverton. But when we got to Gunni there was a fresh 9 to 10 inches, a 12-pack of the champagne of beers in the house, and it was dark. So we called it, and set the alarm for 5 a.m.

But Mother Nature wasn’t done. It kept snowing. And when that happens in the San Juans, roads start closing. Which is exactly what Red Mountain Pass did . . . for three days. So we didn’t make it to Silverton. “Settled” for the consolation prize of skiing with family at Telluride. But that just means we’ll have to go back in the spring when unguided skiing at Silverton kicks off again.

Colorado Ski Conditions Check-in: Central Rockies Colorado

Thursday, December 23rd, 2010

Matt Samelson of Boulder, Colorado, brings us this update on Colorado ski conditions and the general stoke in the Central Rockies. Though Matt resides some 1,500 miles away from our brick-and-mortar store at Lake Tahoe, the former Couloir magazine editor is a loyal online TMS customer. Look for his series of Colorado Ski Conditions Check-ins on our blog this winter, and look for him on the Colorado slopes in his new TwentyTwo Designs Axl bindings.


I woke up on the morning of the winter solstice to an email from a close friend who lives in Gunnison.

“Sorry to be such a douche, but this is gold. This is language from a professional forecaster: Confidence remains high that this storm is an epic . . . The snow will continue to pound the mountains and will be relentless.”

The NOAA forecaster may enjoy the adjectives, but the prognosis wasn’t that far off. As of December 21, Crested Butte had received 53 inches and the town of Gothic, just eight miles north of CB, had a storm total of 82 inches.

Now, I will gladly admit that I’m a homer. Born and raised in Colorado, I’m always excited when Colorado is in the crosshairs of the jet stream. I lived in Tahoe long enough to see what a real storm is, so when there’s a chance that Colorado could receive the crushing blizzards that Tahoe and Wasatch regularly get, I’m cheering loudly.

The Pineapple Express has been cruising through Colorado for the past 5 days. But it got a little warm yesterday, and Colorado took a turn for Tahoe:heavy, wet snow,puddles in town at 9,100 feet. Mid-December sure is sloppy. And, at least for the moment, the Pineapple Express has a distinctive Coconut Express feel to it with that hard layer on top of two feet of new snow.

Just in time for the pre-holiday rush, the roads iced up nicely. I-70 closed because a truck carrying explosive gel was rear-ended by an industrial-sized tow truck. Explosive gel. I don’t really know what that is, but it sounds sketchy. Normally such a truck would be routed over Loveland Pass, but blowing snow and wind had closed the pass… again.

So the roads suck, and the heavy snow is a foreign concept for most here. But for Colorado this is about as close as we get to the “If you can see it, you can ski it” mentality our friends on the West Coast have.

Which all leads up to some amazing resort skiing. Lines in Blue Sky Basin would fill in by the time you lapped it. Montezuma Bowl is 100-percent open. The snow in Whale’s Tail was pretty much hero snow ─ several inches on top of a solid base. All without a crowd anywhere. After the wretched ski season Colorado had last year, it’s nice to be off to reputable start this year. And so it begins. New Axl bindings are mounted, Element Belafonte skis are waxed, car is packed and it’s time to catch up with some family in Frisco and then head off to Telluride and Silverton.

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