Ski Season Begins!

Okay, so there is only one ski area that is open (Loveland), and they only have one lift and one run open so far, and its only open because of snowmaking… but still, its officially ski season! When I first heard they were opening on Friday, I was very excited to head over there this weekend, but when I checked out their “Run Status” page on their website, I decided that one beginner run covered in man-made snow was probably not worth it. This week we have snow showers in the forecast almost everyday, with highs in the valley struggling to get out of the 40’s most of the week. I figure this will bode well for the ski areas, and next Friday Arapahoe Basin is scheduled to open as well. Next Saturday will all likelihood be the first day of skiing for me, a week before its even Halloween! I was actually up on Loveland Pass yesterday hiking around, and the views from there of the upper parts of Loveland and Arapahoe Basin are great, it looks like there is a lot of snow up there, and I’m sure if the snow gets good enough towards the middle and bottom, they will have top-to-bottom skiing soon. That doesn’t stop people from hitting the backcountry of course. Loveland Pass had a good number of people skiing and snowboarding from it. There is a large north-facing bowl of snow just east of the pass that feeds down to a switchback in the road below. People bring 2 cars, and park one at the bottom and drive to the top to hike the ridge and ski down. The pass is also popular as a hiking spot, albeit brief hikes for most. Tourists flock to the pass, at 11,990 feet above sea level and above the trees on the Continental Divide to get their picture taken with the sign, and to take short hikes along the ridge to get a better view of the peaks surrounding them.

Seeing as its hunting season and I don’t want to get shot, I decided to not go hiking in a wooded area yesterday. At Loveland Pass the only shooting you would have to worry about would be getting caught in the crosshairs of a tourist’s camera, and mounted in their photo album. I hiked out along the divide from the pass to a point that is at 12,915 feet. From here there are a few ranked thirteeners that one can access, Sniktau to the north, and Cupid and Grizzly to the south. In fact if you continue past Grizzly along the Divide, the next two peak are Torreys and Grays, to fourteeners that I climbed last year on vacation from Chicago. I chose to head toward the 13,234 foot Mt Sniktau. This is a pretty short hike, especially when you consider the starting point is already almost 12,000 feet. It took only about an hour to reach the summit. It was really cold, and terribly windy though. It felt like a winter climb, there was a lot of snow on the ridge, and over the leeward side were huge cornices of snow. By staying below the ridge you could avoid the deeper snow, but that meant you were on the windy side. At the summit I could finally seek some shelter from the wind by climbing down part of the east slopes and sitting on some rocks that were sticking out of the snow. It was nice to get one more peak in, and it gave me some great views of the two ski areas that I will have to choose from next week, and they are looking good!