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01-02-2007, 04:39 PM #1
TR: New Year, New Adventure, New Lines 1.1.07
New Year, New Adventure, New Lines
Kya, marshalolson, iskibc
Route: S. Boulder Creek>James Peak N. Face>Haystack Mtn.>Rogers Pass lake>Pillowy goodness
It's becoming a tradition to ski something new up above East Portal on New Year's day. The past few seasons I've found myself searching for new lines high up in the James Peak Wilderness area. Each year I find more and more lines that could keep even the most highly motivated backcountry skier busy for years and years. For such a small area, the James Peak Wilderness provides some of the steepest and most challenging terrain on the front range.
After a series of big storms (3' pre-xmas, 2' pre-new year) the front range mountains have been skiing better than I have ever seen them for this time of year. The upslope storms have been rolling through on almost a weekly basis, laying down a great base and providing some amazing pow skiing from Pikes Peak all the way up to the Wyoming border.
After a few days of high pressure and some much needed settling of the new snow, we headed out of East Portal looking to ski some fun lines around the Roger's Pass area of the JPW. We arrived to an empty parking lot around 8 AM and started skinning up the popular S. Boulder Creek trail to a windless and beautiful New Years day morning. January is typically the coldest month here in Colorado, but today was a bit on the warm side for this time of year.
Early morning scenic from the skin track:
The S. Boulder Creek trail is pretty boring from the start, as the first couple of miles have very little elevation gain and thick forest for most of the way. We cruised up the well-packed trail to tree line at a fairly fast rate. The weather was perfect for skinning (not too warm, not too cold). Once you reach tree line on the S. Boulder Creek trail you get a beautiful and rewarding reminder as to why you just skinned 4 miles through dense forest and flat terrain:
We continued up along the south side of Haystack Mountain and began our climb up the north side of James Peak. This basin is filled with steep and aesthetic lines. We all talked about coming back in the spring and setting up camp along the basin floor and hitting the multiple lines strewn across the upper part of the basin.
The upper basin:
A closer look:
We spent a couple of minutes trying to figure out the safest and easiest ascent route to the divide and decided on the northern flank of James Peak. This was the mellowest way up with minimal exposure to avalanche terrain.
Kya and marshal skinning along the basin floor:
A wide angle view:
We zigzagged our way up a good 1,300' before calling it quits just short of the James Peak summit. We skinned up some of the best high alpine snow I've seen in winter here in Colorado. There was a consistent 8" of wind buffed fluff sitting on top of a thick and safe concrete hard slab. Perfect for high speed turns down a nicely pitched slope.
About midway up:
marshal pondering some insanity:
Stoke levels were on the rise once we reached the top and knew what we were about to ski. Conditions like this are rare for this time of year, as most of the time you have to deal with punchy wind slab or variable snow at this elevation. We struck it rich in the form of some soft and creamy goodness.
marshalolson working his way up and over the roll:
We walked along the divide to check out some other terrain and took our time as the weather was absolutely perfect.
Byers Peak looking good to the west:
Some fun looking terrain just to the west:
High wispy clouds slowly moved overhead with bright sunshine beaming down upon our faces. The snow capped peaks in the distance glistened from the freshly fallen coat of snow. Hawks and eagles gracefully soared overhead, occasionally swooping down into the deep basins to the north and west. The only sound in the air was that of our boots crunching in the snow as we walked along the ridgeline. The sublime nature of the day grew stronger as the hours grew older.
Looking along the ridge to the north:
01-02-2007, 04:40 PM #2
When it was time to descend, we geared up and made our way over to the top of the line. The line wasn't anything overly steep, but had a sustained pitch of around 30 degrees all the way to the basin floor. I'll take 1,300' of sustained 30 degree pow any day. marshalolson dropped in first and made some effortless high speed GS turns down the line all the way to the lower floor. As he cruised by me there was not a sound in the air as the snow was of perfect consistency and buttery smooth.
Near the top:
Pretty stoked right here:
Kya followed and gracefully etched some high speed arcs in the snow all the way down to the bottom.
Stoked and ready to drop-in, I quickly put my camera gear away and pushed down my goggles from the brim of my helmet onto my face. A couple of taps of my poles, a quick push-off with my right ski, and suddenly I was 'in it'. I was in that state of mind where everything shuts down for a moment and the only feeling in your body is that of skiing silky smooth powder turn after turn after turn. Time had stopped, sound was muted, and all stresses in life vanished. This is the moment that I long for day in and day out. This is the moment where all that hard work pays off and the only thing running through your mind and body is pure bliss. For 30 seconds or so I escaped to that magical place.
marshal on the lower apron:
I skied down to marshal and kya and high fives were exchanged as we celebrated. You could tell that we all had just experienced the same feelings and emotions of that moment of floating effortlessly down the slope. Awesome. Absolutely awesome to share such a powerful moment with a couple of buds.
We glanced over at the other side of the basin and decided to skin up and give another line a try. We worked our way up to the saddle of Haystack Mountain and then climbed our way as high as we could go to a steep east facing chute just west of Haystack. Still beaming from our previous descent, we climbed hard and fast and quickly arrived at the top of our next line.
Looking over at Haystack, our next line:
The snow on this aspect was much less favorable, but manageable. We worked our way down carefully as we found some hollow snow a couple of turns into the run.
kya slayin' it:
marshalolson with a little air:
and then workin' it to the bottom:
With one more lap in us, we decided to skin up to Haystack and give its westerly facing slope a shot. The snow looked money and it was still in the sun, so we gave it a go. We ended up finding the same great snow we found on our first run and made our way down to tree line.
Haystack west face goodness:
The sun began to set as we made our way out of the basin. One final view as we headed down:
Further down the trail we checked out some pillow drops and played around for a bit before heading back to the trailhead.
marshal working the little double:
An excellent day spent with some great friends. It was a pleasure ringing in the new year with some good company and fun terrain. I sit here at work jonesing to get back up to that area and check some more of those beautiful lines off the list.
Sunset on the way home:
01-02-2007, 04:47 PM #3
wow.. just awesome.
01-02-2007, 04:50 PM #4
Nice work D and crew.
Way to start the new year.
01-02-2007, 04:52 PM #5
Wonderful. Thanks for sharing. Happy new year, fellas.SLOWER TRAFFIC
01-02-2007, 04:53 PM #6
Just plain stoked!!!
Last edited by dblatto; 01-02-2007 at 05:01 PM."Climb the mountains and get their good tidings. The winds will blow their freshness into you, and the storms, their energy. Your cares and tensions will drop away like the leaves of Autumn." --John Muir
"welcome to the hacienda, asshole." --s.p.c.
01-02-2007, 04:55 PM #7
01-02-2007, 04:56 PM #8
01-02-2007, 04:59 PM #9
The bowl looks sick! Chutes and straightshots everywhere. I wanna go.
But yeah, awesome pics, that place looks caked. That area doesn't look like colorado.Drive slow, homie.
01-02-2007, 05:01 PM #10
Wow...what a way to celebrate the new year. Better than nursing a hangover, that's for damn sure....
01-02-2007, 05:01 PM #11
A+ work again, keep'er coming.
01-02-2007, 05:03 PM #12
Best way possible to spend my last day of vacation Nice writing dave.
01-02-2007, 05:09 PM #13
01-02-2007, 05:10 PM #14
01-02-2007, 05:11 PM #15
Great stuff as always!
This place looks fun!!!
I feel ya man! I finally got to visit that magical place for the first time this season on Friday! Only mine lasted about 10 seconds. Beggars can’t be chooser though!
http://www.splitboard.com/vids/12-29-06.mov (18mb)so many mountains...so little time
01-02-2007, 05:15 PM #16
Cool. Very nice TR. 7 years ago mrs. cowdog blew out her acl skiing those same lines, although it was march and the snow coverage was nothing like that.
01-02-2007, 05:20 PM #17....................
- Join Date
- May 2005
01-02-2007, 05:22 PM #18
It's been too long. We gotta get out sometime soon.
There are several large rocks that have yours and D-Side's names on them. The one marshal and I passed (wussed out) on definitely has the 'big mountain' kind of feel to it. A nice 40' to 35 degree landing to straightline down the apron. We both stood above it and shook our heads. Then your name immediately came into the conversation.
01-02-2007, 05:26 PM #19
there is a money 25ft tall x 20ft long drop with the cleanest LZ in town. it could easily be sent 50-60ft. so long and steep and open. after 4hrs of trekkering, i was not feeling it though (ps. thanks for waiting on my ass guys....)
01-02-2007, 05:41 PM #20
01-02-2007, 06:04 PM #21
Beautiful shots as usual!washu feeze drive me to firenze?
01-02-2007, 06:11 PM #22
I like it.Chocolate? This is doodoo, BABY!
01-02-2007, 06:30 PM #23
Cream Puff action, very nice
always sucks after climbing a line like this to choose either a) milk the turns or b) let 'em run
Looks way to fun letting them run
Last edited by Squirrel99; 01-02-2007 at 06:32 PM.
01-02-2007, 06:57 PM #24
Damn, need to roadtrip to CO this year.
01-02-2007, 07:10 PM #25
Looks like you guys had a great time. Sorry I couldn't make it. SOON.
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