Well, this past Saturday we did ... It was awkward. It was deep. It was lumpy. It was goofy. It was exhausting and it was most definitely fun!
I live in a very beautiful, very dangerous place. Colorado's San Juan Mountains are some of the most dangerous mountains in the country in terms of avalanches. Our wicked climate and bipolar weather make for some season-long sketchy avalanche conditions. This year, like most, the snow fell early. September/October early and then didn't really fall again for what must have been a month or more. The temps rose and we fell into yet another Indian summer. It was perfect for desert mountain biking, wandering around in flip-flops, patio drinking..., but that month without snow reeks havoc on our delicate snowpack. It causes the snow that had fallen previously to become grainy and sugar-like (faceted). Then, with those pristine cold, clear, star-filled nights we get an ever so beautiful, sparkly layer of gigantic crystals (surface hoar) that grows bigger each night. Which when a hefty dose of new snow falls on that old crappy, crumbly stuff makes it quite easy to trigger an avalanche. Sometimes remotely, perhaps on accident or maybe mother nature just feels like it.
Here is an avalanche that ran this past weekend, after all of our new snow fell.
With all this in mind, know that I am uber scared, TERRIFIED of avalanches. I don't ever want to be involved in one in any way. I even went out and got my avi training and all the essential gear just in case ... But that is it exactly, JUST IN CASE! In the meantime, I prefer to get my jonesing for winter ya yas out by finding a few really mellow grassy slopes that have no way in hell of sliding. They're typically small open slopes that make for good lap after laps and perfect for sledding and building kickers on.
My go to spot to make some nice deep turns on is right between where I live and where I work. The top of Lizard Head Pass, situated just above 10,000 feet, between Rico and Telluride, right on the San Miguel and Dolores County line. For there can be an entire day of fun had up there, a good amount of exercise and a darn good view for some beer drinking!
So, in the midst of our first major, weekend-long winter storm, a few of us found ourselves making nice, safe mellow turns in some really heavy, lumpy (from the huge grass mounds...) knee-deep pow.Good times!