Saturday, February 09, 2008

Colorado Boondocking: DEEP Wolf Creek

Get the snorkel! Wolf Creek is Deep!
The national Weather service forecasted strong winds and blowing snow for the northern and central Rockies this weekend. Arctic storm systems delivered with treacherous temperatures, snow and 90 mph winds. Avalanche conditions in these areas rocket to “extreme” and most of the high mountain passes close quickly as snow and blowing snow pack the highways and create white out conditions on ice sheets. No place for vehicles. I70 (the POW pipeline) in the high-country slows to a parking lot. Traveling in the mayhem is a long, tedious, white knuckle journey that makes standing in lift lines even more disheartening. Most people skip it and track cdot reports and snow totals from home. We head south.
After being absolutely pounded with heavy snow falls last week (86 inches) on top of the record accumulation for the year (totals around 431 inches now) we find a window with perfect temperatures and bluebird skies. The same storm system clobbering the northern and central part of the state pushes pressure into southern Colorado making for clear skies and relatively warm daytime temperatures.
From the Colorado Avalanche Information Center.
The avalanche danger for the Southern San Juan zone is overall MODERATE.
Snow has ended across the state this afternoon though there are still a lot of clouds across the northern Front Range and the Steamboat zone. The bright yellow orb on the southern horizon is the sun. Enjoy it while you can, or shovel your roof, whatever your priorities happen to be.


JP and Dragon near 12,000Ft find it.
We took turns breaking trail to the alpine meadows in the nipple deep snow. It was a 17 mile journey to the “goods” at 12,000ft. With three of us rotating it took a good part of day one to cut the initial trail. Sidehilling the sled most of the way the trail got narrow and snow drifted in places. Any mistakes could mean a spring recovery or worse. We passed a resort groomer that was stuck and broke down in the snow along the way. At full throttle my sled would reach about 25mph on the ascent. With that much snow it was crucial to keep your speed and momentum, the riding took on characteristics of jet skiing on water. The long mountain track churned the powder and the engine labored up to altitude where we were treated to untouched deep Southern Colorado goodness for as far as the eye could see. Being careful to stay out of slide zones we took full advantage of the great weather and played in the backcountry until we were out of gas both mechanically and physically.

Keith pops off pretty much every feature he can. He spent most of the day in the air.

White room landing in 7 feet of fresh powder. Rider:Keith
Southern Colorado is a year around playground with some of the most remote areas in the state for backpacking, awesome backcountry and resort skiing and snowboarding, snowmobiling, pristine rivers and lakes, diverse wildlife, plenty of tall peaks, and even sand dunes. If you have never spent any time in South Fork Colorado you are missing Colorado in its native form. It is a simple, quiet mountain plains town with a little something for everybody. The surround landscapes are as beautiful as they are diverse.

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