4.17.2006

Birthday Skiing and Easter Climbing

Well as you probably know, Saturday was my birthday. So in honor of it we planned a sort of birthday party at the top of Blue Sky Basin in Vail to barbeque and enjoy the beautiful spring weather we were having. Of course, Friday night and Saturday the next cold front moved through, bringing rain to the valley and wind driven snow to the mountains. It was a cold and snowy day on Vail, but unlike office ski day the week before the snow wasn't deep enough to bury all the sun-baked snow that had turned to crust. It was still a fun day of skiing, but unfortunately the weather scared a lot of party-goers away and it was a rather small group on the mountain. There were a couple of parts of the mountain that we were able to get a little bit of powder though, so that was a nice birthday treat. Vail is still open another week, so I will probably get in one more day of skiing this season on Saturday, if so that will give me 32 ski days!

That evening my friend's Ben and Erica took me out to dinner. Our choice of restaurant gives free dessert for people's birthday and I had a fresh baked chocolate chip cookie covered in ice cream, whipped cream, hot fudge, caramel and heath bar crumble with a cherry. Not a bad slice of birthday cake!

For Easter Sunday Ben and I were joined by my friend Tracy in Buena Vista for a climb of Mt Antero, Colorado's tenth highest peak at 14,269'. The road up to the peak was still snowed in at the base, so we had to hike almost 13 miles round trip with 5000' of elevation gain to get this summit. It was a very long and demanding day! The lower part of the road was patchy snow, which slowly increased to more sustained snow pack of 3-4 feet deep! In the morning this was okay, but the afternoon sun turned it to the consistency of a snow cone in places and we often found ourselves wading through the nearly waist deep snow. The upper slopes of the mountain were pretty well windblown, and we were also able to use a few snow-filled gullies to cut off some of the switchbacks and thus some of the mileage as well. In summer this peak has a 4WD road all the way to 13,100', a hideous scar of a road that cuts back and forth across the slope. The snow gullies allowed us to just go straight up which made the day much more enjoyable. Once at the top of the road, the ridge was reasonably blown clear of snow and we were able to hike mostly on rock the remaining way to the top. The summit itself had an amazing 360 panorama of the surrounding mountains. Being one of the highest mountains in the state, the views are far reaching and you can see high peaks in four of the neighboring mountain ranges. There are 54 official fourteeners, (official meaning that the peak rises at least 300' from the low point of the ridge connecting with a higher neighboring peak) this was my 24th, so I almost halfway there in only 2 years of living here. Looks like this summer is going to be a productive one, so far the spring is starting out right!