Life: Spring Skiing in the Backcountry

The ski season might finally be over—though I’m sure some of you out there would like to argue that point. There’s still a ton of good snow up high…but I’ll be traveling for the next two weeks and don’t know what conditions will be like when I return. These past few weeks have been brilliant, however, so this post is dedicated to a few of the good moments in the backcountry.

Buffalo Peak’s Silver Couloir is one of Colorado’s classic skis. This 12,749 peak isn’t super high, but it’s visible from I-70 in Silverthorne, so its one of those I gawk at every time I drive through Summit County. The Silver Couloir is pictured at right—it’s the widest couloir, at lookers right.

Unfortunately, the day we skied the Silver Couloir, the weather conditions weren’t as great as they were on the day I took the blue-sky photo above, a few days later. Skies were overcast, and it was snowing as we skinned in.

After an icy, steep section, we topped out to low visibility and howling winds.

Despite the difficult climb, Marble the Superdog, made it to the summit with us.

The skiing this day had my stomach in knots. Conditions were a little on the sketchy side, and there no escape from the Silver Couloir. It’s tight and steep. We took turns descending safely, not taking a break until we found this nice lunch spot back in the forest:

A week or so later, my friend Tammy met me up at my cabin for a day of exploring in the San Isabel National Forest. I wanted to ski Buckeye Peak because it defines the skyline from my deck—and I had a route in mind. I thought it would be possible to ski a nice loop up one gully, traverse around to the nearby 10th Mountain Division Hut—the Sangree M. Froelicher Hut—and then descend another gully below the hut.

As it turned out, this route was indeed possible—and it was brilliant, especially since it’s literally in my backyard. The view on the top of Buckeye was spectacular—we could see all of the fourteeners in every direction—giving Tammy here a big reason to smile.

This day on and around Buckeye Peak was a good one, mostly because I think it increased my connection to this place. Now I can stand out on my deck and remember being up there with a friend, finding our way through a new area, topping out to see the surrounding peaks, and then coming down to the cabin where I live for hot drinks and snacks.

Yes—I still believe: Adventure Begins in Your Backyard.

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