Colorado Backcountry: Loveland Pass - Gilbralter

berthoud booter lines
berthoud booter lines
Photo: Dave B. Rider: JP Location: Gibralter Rock Drop

Loveland Pass - 01.01.05 - (right click - save as)
Loveland Pass - 01.01.05 - (Mirror Link)

Colorado Backcountry: Vail Pass

Photo: Dave B. Rider: JP Location: Vail Pass

Dave (iskibc), RJ and I met up at Vail Pass on Friday before sunrise. The last adventure the 3 of us went on was the first day of the season this year (Jones Pass) after the huge dump in October. Looking like another epic adventure we geared up and hit the trail. We made our way up the snowmobile access road and near the top broke east for those sweet cliffs and pillows above Vail Pass Lakes. Dave is a very strong backcountry skier and hiker, he broke trail most of the way and found us a nice spot to break before our first line. You can see from the video that there is plenty of snow around, we found a couple feet of powder on most lines. We took turns dropping this steep section with small pillows and cliffs, landings were complete whiteroom. We started a nice skin track back up the ridge to the top, on the way up we noticed a sweet face that looked pretty safe. We decided to track it up and set up basecamp here for a while. Probably 4-5 laps later we moved on down the ridge to some steeper untracked areas. We took turns taking laps, hitting fresh lines and filming each other from a couple of different cameras and angles. Around 3pm, snow started to fall.. we had one more line in mind and made our way back up. After shredding said line, weather was starting to turn and so we dropped and started to make our way down to the pass lakes. Still a few miles of hiking to get back to the cars, we are spent. It was a long day with lots of deep powder turns, fun drops and steeps. This is a great spot to go backcountry skiing or snowboarding, although it is a lot work if your like me and don't use a split board. According to Dave's GPS we logged around 9 miles total.

Backcountry Gear: Osprey Switch 55+5 Review

The Switch 55+5 is the second pack I've owned from Osprey. Osprey is a Colorado based company with excellent product and support. I also own a Switch 25+5, which I use everytime I go out into the backcountry. It is last years model and is showing some wear and tear. Osprey encourages owners to warranty thier gear if they have problems due to wear or defect - this helps them improve next years design. I've heard the warranty and exchange program is top notch. I'll report back as I might try and send in my 25.The Switch series is designed for snow fun, and it is designed right! Store all your over night gear, stoves, gas, laterns, sleeping bag, thermal pad, and still have room for plenty of food and snow safety gear. I find the real beauty of this pack is the easy access to my snow science gear and Avalanche rescue gear. I store my BCA shovel, probe, and Link Link snow saw in the outer pocket. The pack is actually 2 packs in one, with a main base camp pack of 43 liters and a detachable outter pocket (700 cubic inch) which can be used for day trips from camp or short hikes.

The hydration system is interchangable between the larger pack and the day pack. Also, another great benefit is my bladder from the Switch 25+5 fits perfectly in the Switch 55+5. Options for A-Frame ski carry, diagnol ski carry, vertical snowboard carry and horizontal snowboard carry come standard. The design of the main pocket storage area allows you to place the pack in deep snow and open from the back allowing easy access to the contents inside and keeping snow out. The pack has a really nice suspension system placing most of the weight on your hip. Allowing for extended slogging and hiking with less fatigue.

This is my new hut-to-hut and multi-night backcountry snowboard pack. I'm very happy.

Colorado Backcountry: Loveland Pass - Five Car

UPDATE 12/31/05: Ffej's extreme workout video posted, check it out. This is the video from the 5 car area a week or so ago. Deep snow on the pass and lots of having fun. This video is hilarious!

5 Car - Ffej's Extreme Workout - (right click - save as)
5 Car - Ffej's Extreme Workout - (Mirror Link)

I met the vangina crew up at the Pass around 6:45am. After 20" over the previous two days conditions are deep. We waited for Mike and JJ to show up and started to shuttle the monster 4x4 van up the mountain. We hit some of the main chutes down from the summit and the pow was amazing and very untracked. Loveland Pass was closed during the storm so we pretty much had first dibs. We rode our favorite spots and decided to head over to the Gilbrater rock drop. Now this drop is the shit, a very large rock about 25 foot high sitting on the side of a really nice north facing chute with a great landing. From the top it feels like you are jumping off the end of the world, and with such a great landing and deep powder conditions you can go as big as you want. We all dropped it a few times and continued on with the day. The van crew had to take off around noon so I met up with Ffej, Jordan, Chris and Cash. We shuttled a few laps of powder and decided to head back over to the rock drop and have some fun. We each dropped it a bunch more times until we mashed out the landing. So much fun.

Colorado Backcountry: Bard Creek Dawn Patrol

Saturday Mike and I met up early. Dawn patrol and scouting for new locations was the plan, we had started hiking by 5:45am. Mike had scoped out a line last year on Mt. Bethel and the ridge to the northwest behind it. We didn't have enough time to make that but we decide to head back into the drainage and see what we could find. Mike had to be on his way out by 10am so are options were limited. We followed the creek back up into the basin and noticed some really nice north facing bowls with open trees and tons of powder. We pointed the snowshoes that direction and started breaking trail. We zig zagged back and forth up through the trees toward our destination, once at the top we geared up, did a quick beacon check and rode down to find a nice spot to dig a pit. Around 11800ft we found a spot for the pit, open trees, north facing, and around 32 degrees slope angle. 4-5 layers, we saw the same conditions as the previous week at Loveland Pass. 2-3ft of depth hoar, below a very weak layer about 3" thick. On top of that, various layers from the storms cycles and large slabs. We got easy shears on the layer roughly 18" below the surface. We decided to ski the mellower slope angle and denser trees to our left vs. the open bowl. The snow was deep and really fun, a bit heavy but you can't complain about powder. Back down in the drainage basin we started the hike out, happy to have found a great new spot. We wished we could have stayed longer and explored some more of the terrain. All in all we logged about 5 miles total and fresh tracks all the way back down.

Colorado Backcountry: Berthoud Pass - Current Creek Headwall

Current Creek Headwall 12/10 - (right click - save as)

We had huge plans to slog up to the hut after work on Friday, camp the night and ride bright and early. We got to the current creek parking area around 5:30pm and started to gear up, it was quickly apparent that there was no way we were hauling up all the firewood we brought. We cut the load in 1/2 and piled it into the duffle bag, I took first shift dragging the thing though the pow and up the trail. Dragging this US Marine corps duffle bag through the snow with 50+ lbs of firewood was not easy, we were about to give up and Alex had the idea to strap it to his snowboard. 500ft later, that wasn't working. We decide to forget the wood and try and find the hut, it's around 6:30pm, 5 degrees F, we start the hike up the trail. Navigating via GPS through waist deep snow it was a long journey. We learned a lot of things about our gear that night and never made it to the hut. We got within 300ft and decided to turn back. It was almost 8:30pm and we still had to hike out. Plan B, camp out at Mary Jane lot and have a nice fire -- attack in the morning.

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