On short notice pdiddy and myself were able to put plans together to hit Wolf Creek Pass the weekend of March 26th. Things solidified the Wednesday before so we loaded up Friday and cruised down to his cabin on the West side of the pass. pdiddy is a lucky guy to have this cabin. Makes it more like a hut trip with running water, electricity, showers, and cars...
pdiddy getting the fire going.
Other looks at the pad.
The room below.
It had been snowing on the pass the past few days. Close to 16" had fallen since Wednesday. Big surprise it was snowing again when we woke up. Even so, spring has sprung at the lower elevations. Minus the new snow it was all grass at the cabin.
On the pass it was a different story.
We had an interesting time getting my car in and out of the lot each day. For some reason the forest service is not plowing it out as they used to.
One of our main objectives was to hit Gibb's Creek. With the poor visibility and the snow, it just wasn't the day to do it. Clear skies were forecasted after Saturday so we did the Lobo Overlook stuff.
Retards hiking in...
There was fresh snow on top, but the base underneath was solid. We decided to hit up suicide bowl. pdiddy getting it on.
More pdiddy ripping it up.
Maybe not this time...
We got on down by the creek drainage. So it was time to head back up where we came from.
The next run was as good as the first.
I even got into some of the picture action.
Yep I forgot to buckle my helmet. Good thing there is soft snow. One of the coolest things about the Lobo overlook drainage is down low in the trees it steepens for a few hundred verticle. Going form pleasant 30 degree slopes to around 45 degrees. Lot's of little cliffs, mushrooms, and chutes. I wanted to hit the cliff line, but pdiddy found a nice chute. It looked fun too. Of course it had slid in the last day or so.
Solf slab slide, and everything in it was soft. pdiddy slayed it.
We decided to ride on out to the highway from here and call it a day. Big mistake. The snow just got super heavy and wet as we got lower and lower. Coming out at just under 10k ft sucked. After that experience we decided that winter was still around up high, but not much below 11k ft.
Next up Gibbs Creek...
The next day broke with mixed clouds and sun. Definitely a lot warmer.
Maybe 5" had fallen the day before. Being a spring snow it had stuck to the trees in weird ways.
A look at our tracks in Suicide Bowl as I passed by underneath.
It looks innocent enough, but that thing slides a lot mid winter.
Then we got out to the ridge overlooking Gibbs Creek. Ok wow.
The lines back here are mind boggling. Everything on that headwall is over 40 degrees and lot of it tipping 50.
This one here with the cliff is one of my favorites.
We didn't hit that this time, but it's now on the list.
The skin out was a treat.
Mixed skies, cool light, and a knife ridge to finish it out with.
Making the way out to that highpoint in the distance.
pdiddy topping out.
And myself lagging way behind.
Up on top was great.
I managed to kick off a few hundred pound chunks of that cornice. The top layer of snow would break loose but nothing underneath. Again a solid base. So a quick discussion about sluffs, we started to take turns watching each other make turns from safe zones.
piddy dropping in.
Even more turns.
My turn. Damn I like the whiteroom.
The trees were around or over 40 degrees through this shot. As I came down I saw a chute to my left and another straight down where it really steepened. This was getting up towards to the 50 degree stuff I had read about, but still not quite there. Since pdiddy was behind me, I pulled up above the roll that lead into this chute. I call back up to him saying it looked fuckin' killer. pdiddy dropped in coming down to me.
and then blew right buy me I continued to take pics.
^^^Notice the snow on the left at the top of the chute? Look at it again in the next pic.
pdiddy screamed something out and then I realized "Shit! That whole thing is moving" I put the camera down and watched. "Crap, crap, crap, crap, crap, this is not good, fuck..." This is a narrow chute with lots of trees surrounding it. pdiddy was getting thrashed in here. I was just keeping my eyes on him. He was getting slammed by tons of snow. Every so often he would dissappear under it completely. I was sure I was looking at a burial situation here, with the good possibility of serious injuries. It seemed to take forever. Maybe 30 seconds, but man it was a long time to wait. I am sure pdiddy even thought worse of it. Somehow he managed to get his skis below him and scoot out to where he jammed them up against a big pine. I yelled down checking his condition. The reply back was fine but he had lost his poles. Holy fuckin' crap that was scary!
After pdiddy got clear of the slide path I rode down it to meet up with him.
A look at the fracture above. Top left of the chute.
and the slide as it ran below over a small cliff.
I gave him my poles to ski with and we headed on down the slide path looking for his. One was found the other was a goner.
At least the snow was still soft in here.
Another look at the debris
and a lucky skier.
A look at the cirque to the right of where we came down.
and the slide again.
I took a few more shots then hello what's this?
That whole damn cirque slid! Definitely a wet slide event, but still a warning. As if we hadn't of had enough.
We broke for lunch pdiddy considered himself very lucky. One of those nine lives used up. He knew he should have stopped by me. I am sure a slope cut would have gotten that chute to slide. It was only the top layer of new snow. It just happened to be a lot deeper in the chute. Go figure. Great snow, steep angles, it's just too easy to fall into the powder fever trap. Regardless a lost pair of poles is a small price to pay for that experience.
The skin out was fantastic though.
After we topped out we tucked our tails between our legs and got out. Getting drunk in shorts on the cabin porch watching the sunset was never any better.
All in all it was a great trip and a good reminder that you want to let sleeping dragons lie.
Wow - that's scary stuff. I'm glad pdiddy got out of there safe and sound. That whole bowl sliding is pretty nuts, too. Could have been a lot worse. I'm not a big of a fan of that dragon metaphore because it make avalanches sound kind of mythical. But they are real and they can f*ck you up, no problem. Anyway, such a good reminder to take your time and consider each slope before riding it.
Joined: Fri Feb 17, 2006 10:10 am Posts: 1176 Location: Denver
Glad you guys made it out ok gary. Looks like some great turns up there, that terrain is amazing. Pdiddys cabin is pretty pimp too. I would love to own a place in that area some day. The south san juans hold endless possibility. Ever been to the Rainbow hot spring?
I haven't been to the rainbow hotspring. We did make it to the Pagosa Brewery though. Damn good beer at that place. I think it's worth further investigation. By the time we could even think about going to the hotsprings, hanging on the couch drinkin' a beer was more appealing. I know pdiddy has been to them.