It’s Good Weird Out There

With one day of epic (read: frigid) adventure behind us and 14 new inches of snow at Berthoud we were determined to make Sunday a memorable one, and in that we succeeded. We woke up at the crack of 8 to head to the pass. Expected it to be more crowded than it was, we were skiing by 9 and didn’t cross a track until afternoon and those were our own tracks from earlier.

First lap of the day was on the shop chutes where we quickly found out it was too deep to ski anything that flat. Next up, the skin track on the west side was set and the skiers left half of Mainline was completely untouched. We quickly fixed that.


Next up I wanted to explore the meadows and flume, obviously having forgotten the lesson we learned on our first run. We had been over there a month prior and knew there was a more decent base on that aspect than really anywhere else we had seen yet this year. Again, too deep to ski anything this flat. We spent 20 minutes dragging ourselves across the meadows and into the trees where things steepen above the aquaduct.

Meadows IMG_0010_2

Once things got steeper it started to get fun, but also a little touchy. We found deeper, better snow than we could have ever hoped for, I would guess ~20 inches in some places. Flume, above the aquaduct, is broken up pretty well into steep sections punctuated with flat spots. We skied one at a time from safe spot to safe spot not really trusting the stability underfoot.

Upper Flume Upper Flume

Below the aquaduct Flume looked even tastier. However, I took one hard ski cut across the top of the slope and away she went (link to CAIC Observation Report). Sliding almost to the ground on a nice bed of month old sugar snow garbage. Whenever you’re around an avalanche it’s a sobering experience, as small and harmless as this one was, it was still enough for us to call it a day on the exploration front. We skinned back out on the aquaduct trying to kick down sluff onto the rest of the chutes in the 90′s as we made our way back hoping to trigger anything else that might easily go, but nothing did. In my opinion, it’s better for this stuff to go now, because as long as we have this layer of garbage underneath everything else it’s just a matter of time until these slide in a bigger way.

Lower Flume - After Slide Lower Flume - Pre Slide Lower Flume - Crown

Once back at the parking lot we decided to just stick with car laps on the north side of the pass for the rest of the day. Our runs down Hells Half Acre and Shop Chutes, while short, got more and more fun by the lap. As we packed out some of the flatter spots it made it easier to carry enough speed for the runs to have a nice flow to them.  It’s hard for me to believe that at the end of the day 90% of the tracks on Hell’s Half Acre and Shop Chutes belonged to us.

Diesel Betsy and Silo Shop Chutes

Hells Half Acre Shop Chutes Shop Chutes

Final word of advice, be careful, it’s weird out there! Anything that is at all north facing likely has a 4-6 inch bed of faceted sugar underneath this new snow and is just waiting to go. While a slide right now likely wouldn’t bury you, it could certainly end your season (or life) in other ways.

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