11.22.2005

Adventure filled weekend

Well Vail certainly opened with a bang this year! Last year they had one run, but all the recent snow allowed them to open with 72 runs, 11 chairlifts and a total of 1015 acres! For Vail that is only 20% open, but that acreage is more than 3/4 of the resorts in the US even have available. They have a lot of great runs on the front side open, including a couple of the steeper runs like the North Rim and Prima. Even some of the cliff areas were open, which at this time of year to have enough snow to open cliffs is a lot of snow. I didn't go over any myself, but there were a couple of good small rock jumps. Some areas had stumps and rocks exposed, but for the most part the snow was really good, and there was a lot of variety of terrain to spread everyone out across. A lot of the other resorts opened a lot of terrain this weekend for the first time all year, and things are already getting close to where they were mid-December last year. Lets just hope that we can keep getting snow to reinforce the base we already have!

Sunday was looking like a good day to climb, and I had been talking to some people on the climbing forum I belong to about getting together for a November hike. One woman, Tracy, and I had been emailing back and forth about ideas, and ended up planning a trip to a Centennial Peak neither of us had climbed before. We headed towards Mt Ouray, which is a 13,971' gentle giant of a peak about 100 miles south of me. Down in that part of the state there certainly was a lot less snow, and neither of us even used snowshoes for the hike. Unfortunately the snow covered much of the trail and route finding was a little tedious. It took us close to 4 hours to get 3 miles and 3,100' of climbing in, a pretty serious climb, but not enough to summit. We still were a mile away and another 1200 feet from the summit. The size of this peak was deceiving from the trailhead and we ended up having to turn around due to time. It was 1pm already and she was hoping to get back to Denver by 6 to pick up her kids. It was nice to have someone to climb with for sure, and especially at this time of year its safer to have a partner than to wander up by yourself. Unlike the summer when some peaks see over 50 people a day, winter conditions tend to keep most people either at home, or skiing. A lot of people think its too cold, but with our warm sun as long as it is a relatively calm day it can feel as warm as summer with the right clothes. In fact, with proper planning it can be safer in winter than summer as long as you know which routes are safe from avalanches because there are no thunderstorms to worry about, and all the loose rock is covered in snow!