It Begins – A Mellow Day at Berthoud Pass

While some parts of the state have been absolutely hammered with early-season snow – Crested Butte for example – the Front Range has has a bit slower start. I finally got my backcountry season kicked off this past weekend, and was pleasantly surprised.

Sophie has had some pretty bad balling and clumping issues in the past, so I picked up a jacket and booties to help keep her happy. Long reviews short: the Ruffwear Cloud Chaser worked great but needs to be taken in a bit at the waist and have a pocket added for Sophie’s TX600 beacon, while the Ruffwear Polar Trex booties all fell off inside of a minute despite being sized correctly and tightened as much as possible.


The weather was about as nice as could be asked for, to the point that I was skinning in a t-shirt until we were past treeline.


The stats from my GPS put me at a bit under 4 miles for the day. I’d be surprised if Sophie ran less than ten miles around us while we skinned.


Lauren is back to snowboarding primarily, and finally got out to the backcountry on her Never Summer SL Split. Another long review short: she’s a big fan.


We took in our surroundings when we hit treeline, and went over our plan again – head up Russel, find a mellow spot on the Current Creek Bench to descend, and take a look at Y chute which had reportedly avalanched the day before. Everyone was still good with this plan, so we pressed on. I threw my skis on my back and booted the last few hundred feet up Russel, while everyone else skinned to the top.


It got a bit cooler, to the point that I had to put a hat and softshell on to stay warm, but it was still about as nice a day as you could ask for. Sophie was plenty comfortable on the summit of Russel.



Sophie is ordinarly an excessively happy dog. Today was no exception.


Moving along the bench went quickly, and Sophie continued to put in the extra miles.



Gary dug in the snow a bit and found the typical Colorado problem snowpack – slab over depth hoar. We had planned to keep our line choice mellow and this reinforced that decision.


Barely visible is Chris skiing. We weren’t the only ones with this line in mind.



Here comes Gary, with Cody right behind.




My running partner and I were color coordinated this day. I think we looked pretty great together, but I was just happy that she did so well skiing.


Ski season is finally in full swing, and I’m looking forward to many, many powder days this year.

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