Last week I took my cousin Micah backcountry skiing with me for his first time. It had just snowed 7″ at Loveland Ski Area and so we hit up our favorite spot, just east of the Eisenhower Tunnel.
We set out from the parking area around 10am. Normally there are a lot of other people, but the skin track looked relatively fresh with only 2-3 tracks.
The trail is about a mile and half back to the gully we like to ski. We got about a mile in and skin track crossed the river a little earlier than we typically would have. Breaking trail was about thigh deep, so we decided to follow the skin track. It was certainly not the best idea we had all day.
We followed it towards this very steep slope that I was super hesitant about undercutting. (I just took a Avalanche Safety Level 1 class this week and looking back on that decision I agree with my gut that it was a bad idea.) Alex wanted to continue so we went one at a time to the safe zone on the other side. Luckily no slides.
Now I was starting to realize that we were definitely not in a good area. The group who had laid the skin track was above us riding the steeper slope. (It’s never a good idea to be below stupid people). So I suggested that we cut down through the trees, back across the creek and figure out where we are, and where we’re trying to go.
Turns out that I made the right call and after a few minutes of slogging back out and around the corner we made it to the main gully that we were aiming for.
As we ascended the wind picked up and it was still snowing. Since visibility was poorer the further we ascended, we decided to just ski the bottom part of the gully. We reached a safe spot and transitioned before heading down the slope one at a time.
It was glorious! Micah said it was probably the best snow he had ever skied and Alex and I whole-heartedly agreed. The snow was perfectly light and fluffy and face shots were had all around. It was so good we went up for another lap.
The skin out was long and cold, but we finally made it back to the truck around 3pm. It was definitely a day for the books.