Curt Honcharik, Jozef Sibik and I went up to RMNP for some backcountry skiing on Sunday. I’m certainly eager to go ski the steeps, but have been very cautious lately with the snowpack. Curt and I skied/boarded 25 degree slopes at Jenny Lind Gulch last weekend; our snowpit showed lots of instability. After hearing about the massive accident at Loveland on Sunday, our caution was justified and we decided to keep to moderate slopes.
We had a great day of skiing on the East Bowl of Flattop, also known as The Drift. Creamy snow, plenty of sun, and not too much wind. We dug a pit just above treeline at 11,300′ on an east aspect, in the sastrugi, just out of curiosity. Snowpack was about 6 feet deep to the ground, and comprised of 4′ of bombproof windslab on top of a foot of icy crusts and thin softer slabs, with a foot of facets near the ground. Overall I was surprised by how quickly the snow from earlier this week had consolidated, both up high and in the trees on all aspects…but it’s still a winter snowpack though, so be careful out there folks. We spent an hour practicing with beacons at the end of the day.
My condolences to the families and friends of Saturday’s slide.
Another alpine outing with John Mercke this week. After climbing for a few days last week at Indian Creek we met a French fellow named Francois and make plans to climb ice in Rocky Mountain National Park. I checked ice conditions with a friend who guides for Colorado Mountain School and got word that West Gully and All Mixed Up were in decent shape, each having been climbed over the weekend with no rock gear – just screws.
So on Wednesday, John, Francois, his friend Elad, and I went up to Black Lake to have a look. All Mixed Up looked very climbable, though a bit thin in the middle. I didn’t snap a photo…sorry! The Black Lake slabs are forming, as shown in one of the photos below. Very thin, though, at the moment.
West Gully was great. We climbed side-by-side in two teams of two. I took the right side, and enjoyed a pitch of mellow WI3 to belay in a niche on the right below a pillar. The pillar was short, maybe 25 feet, steep, and stout with poor protection. I equalized my first two screws together after hitting air on both, then found hollow ice above. Fun climbing: stemming, backstep/kneebar using the rock behind, pulling a steep bulge…if slightly nerve-wracking climbing above such questionable screws. I pulled the moves though and built a belay at the base of the long ice slabs above.
We cruised the slabs on a simul-belay with hero ice and good screws. Elad suffered a mini-epic routefinding on the descent, but we arrived back at Black Lake with almost enough sunlight for the hike back to the car.
All in all an excellent romp in the mountains. I am certainly happy to be back in the alpine game with a comfortable lead head.
John Mercke and I went up for a ramble in the Mt. Meeker cirque of Rocky Mountain National Park yesterday (October 30, 2012) to do some climbing and check out ice climbing conditions. Chasm Lake is solidly frozen. Overall, the mountains are surprisingly dry, and we need more snow for better conditions to form up.
We climbed the Flying Dutchman and found overall good conditions: mostly firm snow (kicking 3in deep steps) with a bit of knee-deep wallowing. The crux pitch had plenty of good ice and took two 16cm screws (one just touched rock) and some rock pro. We descended the Loft, easily on mostly firm snow.
The Loft ice is forming, but not quite in.
Dreamweaver is forming, but looks like it would involve a good bit of rock climbing.
Martha isn’t in yet. We need some more snow, sun, and cold nights.
The Peacock Pool ice is forming and mostly climbable, but thin with water flowing behind the ice. Fine for some top-roping but I wouldn’t lead it quite yet! We top-roped the rightmost flow after descending from the Dutchman and it was fun, if still a bit thin.
I’ve heard that Alexander’s Chimney is in, but haven’t climbed it.
A party climbed Fields Chimney yesterday, and we saw them coming across Broadway – so presumably the route is in enough to climb.
Meet the newest addition to our homestead: Cardigan a blue french angora rabbit. She is about 16 weeks old. Her personality is curious, not shy. She is a wool rabbit.
Event Location: REI, Boulder
Event Fee: Free
Time: 6:30 p.m. – 8:00 p.m. (MST)
Presenter: Phil Magistro and Apryle Craig
Description: Join husband and wife team Phil Magistro and Apryle Craig as they present photos and stories from their 29 day thru-hike of The Colorado Trail with an emphasis on how they traveled light. The 486-mile trail starts in Denver and ends in Durango, passing through some of the most spectacular scenery in Colorado. In addition to photos and stories, Phil and Apryle will provide tips on packing light and planning food rations. The Colorado Trail is right out our backdoor – whether you’re considering a weekend mountain biking trip, a month long hiking expedition, or volunteer trail work come see how you can take advantage of this amazing trail!
We harvested honey last Friday (Apr 27). We’re trying to replace all our sugar with honey. We have a top bar beehive. Thanks to fellow homesteaders Marc and Diana for their courageous assistance. It was a sticky mess and took days to process the honey. Email us if you have any questions about top bar hives or honey gathering.