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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jan 2014
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    Gaperville, CO
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    Spring and Summer Lines in CO?

    This is the first year I'm attempting to ski every month in CO with a knuckle-dragging buddy of mine. We've both toured a bit, but are novices when it comes spring and summer touring. Looking for suggestions on where to start researching / planning for our June-September outings.

    We're looking for lines that are:
    - within an evening drive from Denver (5-6hrs max),
    - are likely to have good conditions sometime between June-September,
    - do not require technical climbing for the approach or entry (we're both rock climbers, but have no real snow / ice experience),
    - relatively mellow (likely have a well-trained pup with us),
    - as-long-as-possible descents.

    Bonus points for: aesthetics, climbs that would be enjoyed by hikers/snowshoers (our SOs).

    We've got a high-clearance AWD vehicle for approaches / camping. We're willing to hike in to base camp, overnight, ski the following day, and hike out. But ultimately we're weekend warriors so anything with a 2-day+ approach is out.

    Recommended lines/areas for us jongs to research? Ideally we'd get some geographic variety -- something down in the San Juans, Maroon Bells, Gores (too steep?), Front Range, Ten Mile etc.

    Off the top of my head:

    - St Marys snowfield
    - 4th of July bowl (Breck)
    - various things off Loveland Pass
    - Angel of Shavano

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jan 2010
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    Chautuaqua Park has this sick line off "Ski Hill" knob. Better bring the whippets.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Dec 2006
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    June - Sept is a big range.

    In June, most of the state should still be in. Depending on the weather/dust events/where snow falls the next month and a half. But you should still have a lot of options.

    By late June and into July, you're going to find that the areas with the deepest snowpack are what's still holding snow. Note deepest snowpack isn't the same as most snowfall. The ranges of the state that get a lot of windloading from a consistent direction - like the Front Range - will tend to still be holding the most snow on lee aspects late in the season. So the east facing stuff in the Indian Peaks, RMNP, etc often have the most options for skiable snow later in the summer. The catch is that steeper faces hold snow better than mellower ones as they get less direct sun, so as the summer goes on, there are less and less mellower lines that will still be in. Off the top of my head, some stuff that's pretty reliable in June and July and not too steep would include Mt. Toll and Radiobeacon. There's a ton more that I'm not thinking of right now.

    By August and September things are usually pretty grim. There will probably be a few lines left up in the IPW in early August. You're typically going to have to walk a long way for pretty bad skiing by that time of year. Sometimes you can ski fast grass in late Sept. But the standbys that get used by most turns-all-year types are St. Mary's (mellow) or Skyscraper Glacier (not mellow) or the "glaciers" in RMNP. August and September are the months I typically skip, and I'm about 50/50 for skiing in July.

    Edit to add: Independence Pass has great skiing with a lot of options for the first few weeks after it opens (usually around Memorial Day).

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jan 2014
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    Adrenalated -- thanks a lot. We're pretty aware that its gonna be shitty skiing and long hikes come Aug/Sept. For this one year its a novelty thing. Future years I'm sure I'll just dip out early July.

    Helpful to get a few names. We figured that the later it goes the more grim it gets. While I'd like to start mellow, steeper lines as we go on is fine. We'll just leave the dog and SOs at home/on another hike from time to time.

  5. #5
    Join Date
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    Quote Originally Posted by doebedoe View Post
    Adrenalated -- thanks a lot. We're pretty aware that its gonna be shitty skiing and long hikes come Aug/Sept. For this one year its a novelty thing. Future years I'm sure I'll just dip out early July.

    Helpful to get a few names. We figured that the later it goes the more grim it gets. While I'd like to start mellow, steeper lines as we go on is fine. We'll just leave the dog and SOs at home/on another hike from time to time.
    Flip through my site here for some ideas: http://www.adrenalated.com/TRIP-REPO...g-Trip-Reports
    Also look through goldenboy and MBSC's site: www.14erskiers.com
    And Fritz Sperry's: www.makingturns.com
    www.14ers.com is obviously pretty 14er specific but you'll find a decent variety of ski trip reports there. You can filter TRs to only show ski reports and only from certain months, so that may help.

    If you can find a copy for a reasonable price, the now out-of-print guidebook Front Range Descents was a great resource for summer skiing. So are all of Fritz's books, and Ben and Brian's Climbing and Skiing Colorado's Mountains. Some of the climbing guidebooks like Dawson's 14er books, Dave Cooper's Colorado Snow Climbs, Gerry Roach's 14er and 13er books, at Roach's out-of-print Indian Peaks book are also useful. For the climbing books, you can often do the routes backwards of how they recommend (ie, they'll tell you to climb the snow and descend a trail, so climb the trail and descend the snow instead).

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Nov 2002
    Posts
    4,877
    Lots of good info above. In my opinion, summer skiing isn't mellow. The slide for life potential is real. Managing the snow conditions vs. the weather can be very tricky. Even yesterday, I had a down climb>dig out a shelf and don't drop you skis>very firm snow above exposure experience that was significantly more difficult that anything I got into this winter. And that was on what is basically a roadside run.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Sep 2005
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    PRB
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    16,557
    Yeah, I skied Skyscraper one year and was all relaxed, traipsing through the tundra, gearing up, and dropping in. And suddenly it was "holy shit this is steep and icy and what the fuck am I doing since I haven't skied in 2 months!"
    "fuck off you asshat gaper shit for brains fucktard wanker." - Jesus Christ
    "She was tossing her bean salad with the vigor of a Drunken Pop princess so I walked out of the corner and said.... "need a hand?"" - Odin

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Mar 2010
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    2,604
    Quote Originally Posted by adrenalated View Post
    June - Sept is a big range.

    In June, most of the state should still be in. Depending on the weather/dust events/where snow falls the next month and a half. But you should still have a lot of options.

    By late June and into July, you're going to find that the areas with the deepest snowpack are what's still holding snow. Note deepest snowpack isn't the same as most snowfall. The ranges of the state that get a lot of windloading from a consistent direction - like the Front Range - will tend to still be holding the most snow on lee aspects late in the season. So the east facing stuff in the Indian Peaks, RMNP, etc often have the most options for skiable snow later in the summer. The catch is that steeper faces hold snow better than mellower ones as they get less direct sun, so as the summer goes on, there are less and less mellower lines that will still be in. Off the top of my head, some stuff that's pretty reliable in June and July and not too steep would include Mt. Toll and Radiobeacon. There's a ton more that I'm not thinking of right now.

    By August and September things are usually pretty grim. There will probably be a few lines left up in the IPW in early August. You're typically going to have to walk a long way for pretty bad skiing by that time of year. Sometimes you can ski fast grass in late Sept. But the standbys that get used by most turns-all-year types are St. Mary's (mellow) or Skyscraper Glacier (not mellow) or the "glaciers" in RMNP. August and September are the months I typically skip, and I'm about 50/50 for skiing in July.

    Edit to add: Independence Pass has great skiing with a lot of options for the first few weeks after it opens (usually around Memorial Day).

    Excellent info and I would like to add that the Brainard Lake area (IPW) is incredibly beautiful and should have good lines through July this year.

    Look towards Blue Lake and Isabelle Glacier

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Sep 2010
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    Golden/Breckenridge
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    Isabelle has pretty short pitches, iirc? And is a long walk.

  10. #10
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    Dec 2006
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lindahl View Post
    Isabelle has pretty short pitches, iirc? And is a long walk.
    Depends... we skied around 2000'-2200' on the Apache Couloir down to one of the upper lakes in mid-July several years ago. Queen's Way is similar when it's in. Obviously stuff gets shorter later in the season as the lower pitches melt out. Navajo Snowfield at its shortest is usually around 800', so pretty typical of summer lines in CO. They are all pretty long walks, though.

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Jan 2014
    Location
    Gaperville, CO
    Posts
    1,681
    This is exactly the sort of discussion and beta I was hoping for. Thanks all.

    As for summer skiing not being a walk in the park. I figured. Idea is to start easier while we refine our team dynamic. Luckily my knuckledragging friend is level headed for a former Snowbird lifty.

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Nov 2003
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    Quote Originally Posted by adrenalated View Post
    They are all pretty long walks, though.
    Most years you can 4wd right to the base of Montezuma Basin in Aspen, mid to late summer, if you can get across the creek.

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Jan 2010
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    In the swamp
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    4,707
    Quote Originally Posted by adrenalated View Post
    Flip through my site here for some ideas: http://www.adrenalated.com/TRIP-REPO...g-Trip-Reports
    Also look through goldenboy and MBSC's site: www.14erskiers.com
    And Fritz Sperry's: www.makingturns.com
    www.14ers.com is obviously pretty 14er specific but you'll find a decent variety of ski trip reports there. You can filter TRs to only show ski reports and only from certain months, so that may help.

    If you can find a copy for a reasonable price, the now out-of-print guidebook Front Range Descents was a great resource for summer skiing. So are all of Fritz's books, and Ben and Brian's Climbing and Skiing Colorado's Mountains. Some of the climbing guidebooks like Dawson's 14er books, Dave Cooper's Colorado Snow Climbs, Gerry Roach's 14er and 13er books, at Roach's out-of-print Indian Peaks book are also useful. For the climbing books, you can often do the routes backwards of how they recommend (ie, they'll tell you to climb the snow and descend a trail, so climb the trail and descend the snow instead).
    Really like your site and TRs!

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Apr 2012
    Location
    Golden
    Posts
    1,645
    A friend of ours is going on 75+ months straight. Her Aug-Sep is usually St. Mary's. Close, easy to get to and always has snow.

  15. #15
    Join Date
    Aug 2014
    Location
    CO
    Posts
    136

    Spring and Summer Lines in CO?

    Live in St. Mary's full time so that's my go to spot. To state the obvious, the skiing is ungodly terrible and the snow is severely sun cupped.

    Early July, 2014 after a good snow year



    August 2015, still a little bit of pitch to ski, not much vert



    This is the only portion remaining by September, the bottom portion on that top pic (the only part which actually has any pitch to it) is now gone. When I skied it in 2014, the bottom still had snow, but it's melted since. There's not much left but for what you're looking for it will suffice.

    September, 2015


  16. #16
    Join Date
    Sep 2005
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    PRB
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    Indy Pass is a great way to get your June skiing in.
    "fuck off you asshat gaper shit for brains fucktard wanker." - Jesus Christ
    "She was tossing her bean salad with the vigor of a Drunken Pop princess so I walked out of the corner and said.... "need a hand?"" - Odin

  17. #17
    Join Date
    Nov 2003
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    none
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    5,355

    Spring and Summer Lines in CO?

    Indy will be nice this weekend!
    Camping at Weller or Difficult is an inexpensive way to enjoy Aspen and it's an easy ride into town.

  18. #18
    Join Date
    Jan 2015
    Posts
    106
    Flip through my site here for some ideas: http://www.adrenalated.com/TRIP-REPO...g-Trip-Reports

    ^ nice site, thanks

  19. #19
    Join Date
    Jan 2014
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    Gaperville, CO
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    1,681
    Good beta all. This weekend is out due to SO wanting to bike tour on the Western Slope. Next weekend is back to game on. Looking at something in the Park of Indy pass.

  20. #20
    Join Date
    Oct 2003
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    9,300ft
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    Remember to keep your avalanche eyes open, even this time of year.

    Make sure you now how to self arrest on summer snow.
    Quote Originally Posted by blurred
    skiing is hiking all day so that you can ski on shitty gear for 5 minutes.

  21. #21
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    Get up an out early.

  22. #22
    Join Date
    Jan 2014
    Location
    Gaperville, CO
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    Slowly ticking off lines recommended here. Appreciate all the beta. Given the really warm weather we've been having its been mostly 1 lap days as snow has gone to crap my 10am. Hopefully it cools down after this week.

    Headed up to some FS roads of Guanella Pass this weekend with BC gear in tow.

  23. #23
    Join Date
    Mar 2016
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    36
    Anyone been up to anything on Squaretop recently? I'm hoping to do an overnight backpacking trip and ski either Naylor Lake Chute or the East Slope.

  24. #24
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    Jan 2014
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    Quote Originally Posted by patagonialuke View Post
    Anyone been up to anything on Squaretop recently? I'm hoping to do an overnight backpacking trip and ski either Naylor Lake Chute or the East Slope.
    No idea now, but was planning on overnighting by Silver Lake (basin west of Square top) this weekend and taking ski gear. (No idea if decatur has anything worth skiing, but what the hell -- the gf wants to go on an easy backpacking trip.) If we get good views of the lines I'll hollar back.

  25. #25
    Join Date
    Mar 2016
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    36
    Quote Originally Posted by doebedoe View Post
    No idea now, but was planning on overnighting by Silver Lake (basin west of Square top) this weekend and taking ski gear. (No idea if decatur has anything worth skiing, but what the hell -- the gf wants to go on an easy backpacking trip.) If we get good views of the lines I'll hollar back.
    Sweet, we're planning on doing Naylor Lake Chute Sat morn and maybe the East Slope Sunday, maybe I'll see ya up there. I'll be the one with the ridiculously heavy backpack and giant 2 piece fly rod on my back.

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