Berthoud Pass Training Day – 2014/01/11

Yesterday was about as good as it gets. Despite a forecast for particularly unpleasant weather, Hans and I went out as we were in need of a training day at altitude. We chose a low-angle, somewhat wind-sheltered area up at Berthoud Pass with the intent of cranking out 3,000′ or so of skinning, plus the ability to test out a couple things. It started out gray, snowy, and windy; we weren’t sure how long we would stick around, but at least we were out.

After breaking trail for 1,000′ from the car, we were treated to a decent (if not wind-affected) ski down to our chosen transition spot. Despite keeping one ski on to avoid sinking in, Hans punched in pretty deep and was forced to take both skis off to climb out of a hole.

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How not to deal with an avalanche

This video is absolutely horrifying. It started off alright – they kept an eye on the person caught in the slide and knew about where to start looking. From there, it turns in to an absolute junk show. Know your gear, know your search procedures, and most importantly, know your parters. It’s a miracle this man survived.

FOBP On-Snow Days

This past weekend was a busy one, as it was time for the Friends of Berthoud Pass on-snow days. I was again lucky to have groups full of enthusiastic, competent people who were ready to learn a bit of snow safety.

Things started off with breaking out in to groups and going over gear for an hour, before watching a staged burial scenario put on by a couple more-senior FOBP members.

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Attempt on Uncompahgre Peak

I don’t usually post anything for failed summit attempts, but I’m making another exception for this one. Some friends drove down to Lake City on Friday night, nine of us in all with myself, Marc, Baba, Carl, Eric, Rob, Rob, Fritz, and Sarah. After a couple hours of poor-quality sleep, we woke up for a 2:15am start. We knew going in that avalanche conditions were going to be a concern, and it was worse than expected.

We covered the four miles to the summer trailhead in about two and a half hours. The entire way, the snowpack was collapsing, whoomphing, and cracking. Given that, we had to make reroutes even while simply skinning up the road. As we gained more elevation, the failures became less frequent but more intense.

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Pyramid Peak Attempt

It’s not often that I’ll put up a post about an unsuccessful summit bid, but last Saturday was such an enjoyable and educational day in the mountains that I have to. It was an ambitious plan – drive from Denver, hike all the way in up East Maroon Creek to the base of Pyramid, climb it, and ski back, all in one continuous push. We were moving at 1:45am, covered the first few miles very quickly, and started running in to difficulties involving creek crossings and bushwhacking by 3.

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Silverton Avalanche School Level 2 – Part 1

This past weekend, I joined Friends of Berthoud Pass on a trip to Silverton for SAS‘ Level 2 avalanche course. I wasn’t planning on joining them for this trip, but someone else had to drop out and I filled their spot on short-ish notice. Chris, Gary, and I left Denver late morning on Wednesday, planning to get over Red Mountain Pass with a little daylight left, and get settled in Silverton in time to get a decent night’s sleep. We made it, and beat all but one of the eight others joining us.

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