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| | |-+  November 6, 2016, South Diamond Peak (11,781'), CO
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Author Topic: November 6, 2016, South Diamond Peak (11,781'), CO  (Read 1570 times)
MW88888888
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November 6, 2016, South Diamond Peak (11,781'), CO
« on: 11/07/16, 09:16 PM »

South Diamond Peak (11,781’), Cameron Pass
Day 5
November 6, 2016


Number of ski trails “open" in Colorado: 1 (at A-Basin).

Trails, not ski areas. 

They might open another trail this week.  That is, if it gets cold enough for (yikes!  Am I in NJ?!?) snowmaking.

***

There are subtleties that I have grown to love with backcountry skiing, certain rituals and esoteric games that over the years I have grown to recognize, reflect on and cherish.  The Mutual of Omaha’s Wild Kingdom Driving Safari on just about every early morning drives is one of those games.

What strange creature, pray tell, will I see this morning?

***

It was a very active morning.  I think perhaps because of hunting season, and the hunters driving all the critters out onto the low lands, or perhaps the unusually warm (70s, 80!) weather and lack of moisture?  Whichever, all the animals were out on the road - young, old, singles, groups.  Which is typical on my usual alpine o-dark-thirty cruise up into the mountains.  As all alpine climbers and skiers must be, I am a seasoned wildlife driver through years of dawn approaches.  But this day - wow!  The herds. 

There was even a "first" for me, as a full-grown, shoulder-tall quarter horse came trotting out on to the road, looked at me, and proceeded to run down the centerline for a couple hundred yards in a full gallop, veered right, and trotted out into the fields on the side of the road.  I’ve seen elk, moose, mountain goats, big horn sheep and the random dog do that, but never a domestic horse.  It certainly cheered up my morning to see such a beautiful creature - just hope she was ok and found herself home.   

***

A thing denied is a thing desired.  I learned that at an early age growing up in Vermont.  My sisters were old enough that my parents bought tickets to the local ski area for them, while my brother and I were left at home to our own devices, and not so quietly seethed.

And by the time I was old enough to get in the car to join in all that fun, we moved to New Jersey, the lousiest ski state outside of Virginia.  Where we also moved for a time.  How’s that for a poke in the eye from the spoke of the Karmic Wheel?

And so, now as it was then, I do stupid things to fill my days when I can’t get my fix of skiing.

In the last month here in Colorado I’ve been on three 14'ers chasing the snow.  And how high I’d have to go….

***

It is always a pleasure to drive up to Cameron Pass.  It's a two-lane back road right from my house into the foothills to meet up with the Poudre Canyon highway, a highway only in the sense of the route number, the two-lane blacktop a quiet respite from the horrors of I70.

There were no other cars in the skiers parking lot when I arrived at 630 am, or when I left at 9 am. 

***

I saw a map on Friday on Opensnow, a skiers rag-site, showing the Colorado Mountains at 10% of normal snowpack.  What that means, of course, from a practical standpoint, is barren ground where the sun shines and a meager inch or two on North Faces, with a few chosen sites with enough chutzpah to offer up enough snow to be called a “slope”. 

When your game is skiing and not paying, I had to choose one of those slopes or the day was a bust.  I had to choose wisely this year. 

***

Another first!  I have never hiked up to the crest without need of skins or snowshoes - but this day, well, all the way to the crest, to the very summit of South Diamond!  The slope below the summit had 2-3” of new snow from Saturday’s “storm”, and 6-8” of windblown “base”.  Trees, brush, grasses, rocks and other debris poked out randomly.  All of this was on an 600 VF north facing slope that was blown in from the Continental Divide, everywhere else was barren ground.   

It was not ideal, but it would have to do.

I skied right from the summit, traversed the small car-sized cornice to my chosen finger of fattest snow and let ‘er rip.

It was soooooo sublime.  So freaking sublime.  The cascading 2-3” of snow came down with me as I carved the turns, mindful to stay light, to feel the terrain beneath the snow, to keep my tip up!  I hardly noticed the meager snowpack, cruising to the bottom of the face and out onto the transition tundra before I stopped.
« Last Edit: 11/07/16, 09:30 PM by MW88888888 » Logged
Zap
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Re: November 6, 2016, South Diamond Peak (11,781'), CO
« Reply #1 on: 11/08/16, 08:05 AM »

Alone in the wilderness! Wink
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