Went out for a backcountry ski tour with Killclimbz to Monarch Pass on Saturday. Also joining us for the initial skin were his friend Don and Don's friend Dave? Two tele skiers who we parted ways with after the first climb. This day could have been better considering the amazing season going on at Monarch this year. The fun started when we came down from Kenosha Pass to a crazy ground blizzard. We couldn't go faster then about 5 miles per hour due to poor visibility (and it was sunny). Gary and I were shocked they even had the road open (they closed it just after we got to Fairplay). This delayed our arrival time to Monarch considerably as we didn't arrive until about 10:30am. We decided to shorten our planned tour by a few runs.
Further hampering our tour plans was the avy forecast of Considerable on all aspects/elevations with High on S to E aspects above treeline. We dug a pit on an east aspect at about 11,400' to a depth of about 6 feet without hitting bottom. Shovel shear tests produced failures on insertion about 1 foot down, then again at 2 feet depth. Even though the run we planned on skiing was fairly protected by trees, we decided to change plans (Gary had his dog with him which has a effect on what risk is acceptable). Wind loading was significant on this aspect.
We headed back towards the radio towers and skied a fun north facing treed slope. This was my favorite part of the tour, as the trees reminded me of somewhere much farther north and west...
The snow was deep on that run! Instabilities were noticed as we skinned back towards the pass and Point 11,594':
We did our final run down the west facing trees back towards the pass.
A 1/2 hour skin brought us back to the top of the pass at around 4:15. We decided to call it a day knowing we had a bit of a drive through Canon City and the springs. Unfortunately we spent more time driving then riding this time. I guess that's why the crowds were non-existent.
Joined: Tue Dec 28, 2004 10:57 am Posts: 156 Location: Boulder
Great photos as usual, Hikeforturns!
I was in that ground blizzard in Fairplay on Thursday night, coming back from Wolf Creek. Gnarliest driving ever.
Kurt and I went out yesterday, it would be fun to ride together this year. Sunday is the best day for us to go.
Ugh, that ground blizzard SUCKED! I've driven in it several times over the years and this was by the far the worst I have driven in. The snow was nice, I wish we had of had more time. I'll try to get my pix up tonight. I left my card reader at home so I have no way to download them from the camera at work.
With the warm weather this week, maybe the snowpack will finally get a chance to stabilize. One can hope...