A Weekend of Skiing in the Roaring Fork Valley

Last Friday, I headed up to Glenwood Springs to see friends Andrew and Katy and spend a couple days skiing in the Roaring Fork Valley, something I haven’t done since I was a kid. Lauren was along too, but was attending the Rippin Chix camp at Aspen Highlands. Look for some photos of that from her in the coming days. We got in to Glenwood mid-afternoon, went for a walk, had dinner, and watched Andrew’s hockey game before calling it an early night.

The next morning we drove to Highlands and took a warm-up lap before hiking the bowl.

Forty minutes later we were on top, with beautiful views all around. Pyramid and the Bells are looking particularly good this year.

It’s worth mentioning that the Aspen Power of Four ski mountaineering race was going on this day. When we were on top of Highlands, the racers in first place were only about 15 minutes behind us – and they were on their third mountain for the day already. The race covers 11,000′ of climbing, and for some reason I couldn’t find anyone interested in teaming up. Oh well, maybe next year. We dropped to Northwoods, and found some pretty decent snow left from the previous day’s storm.

Andrew appears to have a tendency of blowing up as he passes a camera.

The snow was remarkably good for not having snowed much. Advantages of being several hours away from Denver, I suppose.

The stream of racers heading up got heavier as we took a few more laps.

The skiing was great, and we took off to Ajax after lunch, though I didn’t take any photos there.

It was back to Glenwood for dinner, hot springs, and getting ready for skiing the next day. After grabbing breakfast and a map (which would prove very useful), we were off to Marble, where large avalanches recently hit the quarry road.

We originally had the idea of heading to Mount Justice, but bagged that idea when we showed up to low clouds and snow, and instead decided to look for some glades that looked good on Google Earth. We got to a trail sign, compared it to the map, and headed right.

There was an occasional skintrack as we continued to head east of south, and the sections we followed involved more use of trees than I’ve ever used for skinning (though not for vertical climbing).

What you don’t see is the 20′ dropoff to the right of that tree, nor the two switchbacks separated by about a step and a half immediately above where Andrew is in that shot.

We found some nice looking glades, and ventured onward, continuing to head east of south.

When we got to the clearing we thought was Marble Bowl, we checked the map and determined that all our efforts to turn east had been fruitless, and we’d been going almost due south the entire time. Right in front of us was Mount Justice. We probably could’ve made the summit, but we’d been moving slower than expected, I was tired, and heading up in to a whiteout didn’t hold a lot of appeal. We studied the map and planned our return route for several minutes before skiing down, to make sure we didn’t drop on the wrong side of Anthracite Pass.

There were a few fun pillows scattered around.

The snow was perfect and creamy, with only a couple crusty spots.

Every so often we stopped to check our bearings and confirm that we were headed the right way.

Eventually we got back to Marble Bowl, and skirted the edge of the trees. I went over a small pillow that looked good for the direction Andrew was coming from.

Stomped it!

And with that we were back to the road.

It was a great weekend, and I can’t wait to get back to that part of the state.

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