Riding the Drift 4-21-2013

Curt ascending Flattop

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.

Dug a pit to the ground and found a winter snowpack.

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