A few questions re: summer skiing

Info, conditions and gear related to skiing or riding Colorado Peaks, including the 14ers!
Ed Gnar
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A few questions re: summer skiing

Postby Ed Gnar » Thu Jun 17, 2010 3:16 pm

Hello friends,

I’m writing an article on where you can still ski in North America, and was wondering if you could answer a few questions regarding summer skiing on the 14ers. First, about how many of the 14ers are still skiable into late June and July? Which would you say are the best to ski (top 5 maybe)? Which are the most accessible for skiers? Also, what are some other good places (<14K feet) for summer skiing? And lastly, do you have any advice for people skiing the 14ers in the summer?

Thank you,

-Ed Gnar
Last edited by Ed Gnar on Thu Jun 17, 2010 5:05 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Nathan Hale
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Re: A few questions re: summer skiing

Postby Nathan Hale » Thu Jun 17, 2010 4:14 pm

I'm not the type to ski the peaks very much, but I can be of some help.

I think some people would quibble about what you mean. If you're looking to get a summit ski descent that starts getting pretty difficult by late June, but if you just want some turns there are lots of options.

Castle Peak and Snowmass have decent sized snowfields that last well into August, and Castle's is actually a permanent snowfield, though it can get littered with rocks later in the year. I'll let some more hardcore skiers speak up with any others. As far as < 14K, the obvious answer is Saint Mary's "Glacier."
But for now we are young, let us lay in the sun and count every beautiful thing we can see.

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Re: A few questions re: summer skiing

Postby Carl » Thu Jun 17, 2010 4:34 pm

Summer skiing hot spots in Colorado include:
- St. Mary's Glacier, as Nathan said (.5 mile hike from paved lot)
- 4th of July Bowl on Peak 10 above Breckenridge (4wd accessible)
- Montezuma Basin on Castle Peak (4wd can get you within a mile)
- Rollins Pass (4wd gets you close)

If i'm trying to ski a 14er, I want to do it from the top. This is difficult come July. La Plata comes to mind as one that is often skiable late in the season. Castle and Conundrum too (as Nathan said). Snowmass also comes to mind, though not from the summit. Personally, I've never skied a 14er in July. I think my 14er ski season has ended as of last weekend with a Grays repeat. It's been pretty darn warm this year with little new snow, which certainly didn't help extend things. Can't complain though, got 12 or 13 new ski descents in, the closest one to Denver being North Maroon, together with starting a new job. One of my more memorable late June descents was Maroon Peak a couple years ago http://www.14ers.com/php14ers/tripreport.php?trip=4459&parmuser=wesley&cpgm=tripmain&ski=Include. Matt (pioletski) and Ben (benners) really rocked it this season with upwards of 25 new 14er ski descents. I'm exhausted just thinking about it. Also great to see the first female finish the 14ers on skis and for Jarrett (Easy Rider) to become the first snowboader to get them all. Was a good season.

Edit: I went off on a tangent at the end there and forgot your last question. Three pieces of advice 1) start early, a wet slide that doesn't rip to the ground might not bury you, but it can take you somewhere fast (e.g. over talus) where you don't want to go, 2) don't fall, because if it's summer, there are almost always rocks at the bottom and on the sides that you're sure to encounter should you loose control, and 3) be prepared to walk a ways to get to the snow, e.g. if driving to Rollins Pass from Denver, a snow drift can block the road 2 miles from the skiing even in July!
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Re: A few questions re: summer skiing

Postby bergsteigen » Thu Jun 17, 2010 4:52 pm

Another good area for summer skiing <14K occurs in Rocky Mountain National Park. I've skied Sunshine Bowl off the Trail Ridge Road in June.

A couple 13K and 12K peaks are possible, including Mt Toll in the Indian Peaks Wilderness. 13ers Paiute and Audubon via the Crooked Couloir are also good ones in the same neighborhood.

14ers past June are nigh impossible from the summit, like Wesley mentions.

Last year was my first time skiing every month of the year. July - Sept were the hardest months to get in. I utilized St Mary's Glacier for it's easy and short hike in.
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Re: A few questions re: summer skiing

Postby CR0SS » Thu Jun 17, 2010 7:39 pm

In Colorado I think Montezuma and St. Mary's glacier are the two main places for skiing year round. There accessibility makes the limited snow worth it. As for skiing in late June there are to many places to list. This year you can ski all over right now. A lot of people stop skiing in June because of the snow. Summer snow is a completely different animal. The surface of the snow will be anything but flat.

Here is a short video of me skiing Montezuma Basin last September. The uneven terrain made for very fun conditions.

For most people I think it comes down to one questions as others have said. Are you talking about going skiing or checking peaks off a list? Your answer to this question will drastically change the time frame in which things are skiable.

Tips for summer skiing:
Know how to read the snow and what it is doing. Wet slides do happen. CAIC has some basic info for what to look for in spring/summer snow.
Do not leave the avy gear at home you still need it.
Watch the weather a few days before a trip to see what the snowpack might be doing.
Start early, constantly keep an eye on the weather.
Leave the good skis at home.
Keep the skiing mellow, know your limits, you are a long way from help if something happens.
It might be warm but have the gear with you for a severe change in weather.(I was snowed on every month last year)
Have fun, you can get a lot of vertical in over the summer if you want.
Sierra Club, helping to confine humans within city limits one acre at a time.
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Re: A few questions re: summer skiing

Postby ajkagy » Thu Jun 17, 2010 7:48 pm

lots of snow still in the indian peaks...

descents off apache/toll/st vrain glaciers...you name it, they've all been fantastic right now

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