Bluebird at Berthoud Pass

This has been an exciting week. Last weekend I found a bargain on a pair of skis I’d been eyeing for ski mountaineering season, and ordered them. On Monday, I ordered a pair of Dynafits – reportedly the most amazing backcountry bindings ever made. It all arrived Wednesday, and was in the shop that afternoon. Friday night the skis were ready. Saturday I got a pair of new skins trimmed for the new skis. And today, I was blown away by their performance. My skis with bindings are half the weight of my old setup, the touring performance is spectacular, and they ski better than any other binding I’ve ever been on (including the Dukes). It’s simply amazing.

Today was another fun day up on Berthoud Pass. The drive up was quicker than expected, and I was up at the pass ready to go about 7:45. Franz was running late, so I tagged along with a couple guys in the parking lot most of the way up Russel. At 9 they turned to head to the top, and I dropped into the trees to get back to the road, so that I could meet up with Franz. They were getting ready as I got back to the top of the pass, and we headed out.

Cast of Characters:

Brandon, and Hans’ girlfriend Mel in the background
We leisurely skinned up to Russel, enjoying the incredibly warm weather. It was so warm that I dropped two base layers at the car after the first lap, opened the vents on my pants, and strapped my jacket to my pack. Once we made the top of the ridge, we poked around and found a fun north-facing line off the bench. Just before we dropped, we saw two guys skiing down in the cirque together, ripping under the cornice and hucking a couple small rocks. We all thought out loud “wow that looks like fun!” immediately followed by “…that’s not a smart way down.” Keep in mind that the CAIC warned specifically to beware anything near cornices today.

Brandon ripping:
Mel enjoying the soft snow:
Hans at the top of the line, with Volkswagen-sized chunks of cornice debris in the foreground. I’m glad I wasn’t underneath when that fell:
And Hans tearing it up:
Immediately to the north from there is XYZ Chutes. We went down Z, a fun line to get to the trees in the 80s. Hans led off with style:
Then Mel threw some snow around:
From here it’s into the trees of Current Creek and eventually out to the road. I had a blast on my freshly waxed/scraped/brushed skis. It turns out Hans had never waxed his skis, and the warm snow did something I’ve never seen before – it stuck to his bases, and got thicker as he kept moving. He had a few inches of snow on his base when Brandon and I turned and made our way to the road.
It was nearly 1pm at this point, so we called it a day. I was absolutely amazed by the performance of the skis and bindings today. I can’t wait to take them out again.

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