I spent this past weekend getting caught up on blog and Facebook entries. Life gets so busy it gets hard to find the time to stay up to date. My husband and I still manage to get away for some adventures, and this winter has been the season of hut trips. We recently went on another hut trip, yes I know we just did one, and spent three days playing in knee deep powder in the Gore Range of Colorado.
Our hut trip was to Eiseman, which is located directly north of Vail, CO. The trail starts above the backyards of some of Vail’s finest trophy homes, and then climbs around the corner and up a valley away from the busy and noisy I-70 interstate corridor. It was a beautiful warm “spring” day and we could have been in shorts and T-shirts. No fresh snow all week so the trail was packed down by dozens of skiers and snowshoers.
The 6.7 mile slog in took us just under 3hrs. Unfortunately the group that was supposed to have checked out by 1pm was still there and didn’t appear to be in any hurry to leave. We hung out on the deck, eating lunch, and taking pictures of the amazing view to the south. After an hour we finally made our move into the hut, mostly because the weather was changing and we were all pretty chilled.
This particular trip was organized by my brother-in-law, Dan. He is a member of Alpine Search and Rescue out of Evergreen, CO so over half the group was fellow team members. The fun thing for my husband and I was getting to hang out with a totally different outdoor crowd. We spend so much time around cyclists that it was a nice change to hear the search and rescue stories and politics. Very entertaining.
We spent the next day skiing from 9:30am to 5:30pm. Another marathon aerobic workout. Despite not having new snow, we were able to find some beautiful north facing slopes with lots of powder. With most of our group trained in avalanche search and rescue, we were probably the safest group you could have possibly imagined. Everything we skied was either low angle, or extremely stable. It was a gorgeous day with hardly any wind. We hiked almost 3000 vertical feet today and burned I don’t know how many thousands of calories. Total exhaustion by the time we got back to the hut.
Monday was a shortened version of the day before. We set out even earlier and headed for the same areas we hit the day before. Unfortunately the wind had been ripping through the valleys all night and the snow had settled into a challenging wind crust. On alpine skis it’s not a big deal. But for me on telemark skis, it was a very big deal. Wind and sun crust present the most difficult conditions. It is extremely hard to initiate a tele turn, and once you’re down, there is the very real chance that you’re going to punch through, which usually ends in an ass over tea kettle face plant. Luckily I was able to avoid one of those, but I still had many near misses and linked recoveries. Not as much fun as the day before, but still a blast.
We skied back to the hut around noon, ate a quick lunch, packed, cleaned, and left by 12:45pm. The ski out was a bullet proof toboggan run down a steep narrow trail. In the shade the trail was still rock hard. In the sun it was a slushy mess. Temps were even warmer than the ski in two days ago, which made me feel sorry for the group coming in. Trying to skin uphill in warm slushy snow is a frustrating lesson in persistence. One guy had so much snow stuck to his skins, that he had given up and was walking the last mile to the hut. Brutal! We made it to our car in just under 2hrs. And then it was the long drive back home. Amazing trip and another three days of uber athletics. But we love it and we’ll be back for more next winter. Until then enjoy the wonderful spring weather. I saw some daffodils today!