Saturday, February 04, 2006

Deepness "Colorado's Loveland Pass!"

-Stoermer takes a face shot in a Powder frezy.

Oh mercy!
Last Thursday's snow storm turned into Friday's and part of Saturday morning's. It left just under two feet of snow in parts of the central Rockies. A-Basin reported 19" total and Loveland resort reported 22''. The area got hammered! The pass connecting the two, "Loveland Pass" closed Thursday night and didn't open till Saturday morning. This means two things to the powder hound ;
1- Nobody was able to ski/ride the the pass for a whole day while it dumped up there, leaving some two feet of snow.
2- When the pass opens, it is first come first serve!

Saturday I woke up at 4:30am and I was out the door by 6:00(I like to have a coffee). I sped up to the hill! When I got there the storm had passed and the plows were finishing up the snow removal. A line had formed at the access gate. The true hounds! Everyone with their fatty skis or powder boards.(I call mine "the gun ship".)At the front of the line, of coarse, was JP. He had been waiting since 6:00am, hoping the road maintenance would have finished over night. A true master of the craft, "Dawn patrol" I got up there around 7:30 and I was probably car number 7 waiting... the pass open just after 8:00am. The line of vehicles followed closely behind the CDOT Plow, who was doing one last scrape before the ski traffic rush. A couple people tried to pass members of the line. Crazy but understandable.
A funny thing happens to people when there is this much new snow. It's know among the powder hounds as "Powder Frenzy". I believe this to be similar to the fight or flight response. It's an adrenaline driven phenomenon that disrupts normal thoughts and focuses all your mental energy on the high speed powder turns.

Sunday, January 29, 2006

Weather Permitting...or not.

Windy conditions make it a slow go.

Saturday morning a group of us set out to scout an area near St. Vrain mountain. Our goal track had us walking 12 miles and 3500 vertical feet. This beautiful area used to be home to a ski resort called Rock Creek. The spirit of the resort is still here. Perfect, untouched powder lines were plentiful!
We started at the usual 5:45am from the "stone cup." A early morning coffee shop in Lyons, Colorado with great bean(coffee), breakfast sandwiches and, get this, Vegan Power Muffins. VPM's for short. I had my first VPM Saturday morning on the trail. Packed with calories and carbos(mostly oats and fruit) it was real tasty and powered me up the mountain.
Friday's weather forecast called for partly cloudy skies, with temperatures in the 30's, wind chill values between -1 and 9 with winds from the west at between 13 and 17 mph. Really that's not too bad this time of year, about normal. An "A-Okay" day for January...
But Saturday we found the temperatures in the teens. A subzero windchill and wind speeds that doubled the predicted values. Very Cold!
At our first high point(above tree line), between Meadow and St.Vrain mountains, we estimated the wind speed in the 30's with gust in excess of 50 mph. These conditions make traveling along ridge difficult. Not only can a gust blow you off the mountain, but wind can load avalanche zones. The extra snow can make normally safe terrain dangerous and generally no fun.

St. Vrain Mountain

The cold air would not ruin our fun!
We decided to play it safe and ride the trees on the leeward side of the mountain. It was less windy and somewhat sunny. You can see the wind blowing at the top from left to right.
My line is right...over....chair.