This year, summer got off to a late start here in the San Juans. Really late. Most of Colorado if fact had a bit of a delay when it came to kicking off summer. Typically we warm up through the months of April and May, just enough to bring on mud season. And it's not unlike us to receive a little dusting right around Memorial Day. This year, the weeks leading up to and on Memorial Day weekend, FEET of snow blanketed our highest basins and peaks above 9.000ft. Needless to say, that "kick off to summer" weekend in the San Juans was put on hold a bit for tourists, campers and general summer recreationalists.
What does one do living in a town where Memorial Day weekend kicks off all the summer events and festivals? Well, there's Mountainfilm. That's mostly an indoor venture, chalk full of documentaries about the environment, nature, action sports, adventure, excursions etc...
There are always some good, eye-opening films. But why stay indoors and watch other peoples adventures when you can go out and make your own? I was pretty much over with winter by this point, seeing as it was hot all of March and snowing all through April and May. Really just wanting it to warm again so I could get back to paddle boarding. But there I was, sitting in "the Buck" about to go listen to a director's discussion when I got the text. Every now and then, even when you say you're done, a little bug hits and you just have to go! Backcountry skiing on Red Mountain Pass with all that fresh new snow? Yes, please!
On Sunday, May 24, 2015 with only an afternoon of planning, I was off to meet a couple friends from Grand Junction in Ouray. Sitting at just over 11,000 feet with ample parking, Red Mountain Pass sounded like an excellent idea, mostly because we wouldn't have to hike a few thousand feet through mud and slush just to get there. We can take off right from the car and venture anywhere we desire.
Off we went. Call it a reconnoissance mission if you will. We spent most of the time just wandering around, scoping out anywhere and everywhere we felt we would be safe for us to ski and prospecting future ski trips. We even got to hitch a ride from where we skied down about about a half mile back up the pass to the car. Awesome! It was a special and unique opportunity to be able to skin right out from the car on Memorial Day weekend. Celebratory drinks were a must, and what better place to enjoy post-ski cocktails than at the Montanya Distillers tasting room in Silverton?