Generally speaking, the reports coming in from the Aspen area backcountry are at best, lousy, and at worst, dangerous. Despite the disappointing conditions and eager to get out and do something, Sean Shean, John Doyle and I took a tour to see things firsthand and we actually found everything to be a notch or two better than lousy– the skiing was better described as being ‘pretty OK”.
So what’s ‘pretty OK’? Well, we noticed no settling, cracking or whumpfing on the skin up, which was nice considering how tenuous the conditions have been described recently. And the snow we found on the descent, particularly the shady NE aspects higher up, skied great. Lower down there was a bit of a crust on the sunnier, east facing aspects and the overall shallowness of the snowpack presented a bit of a challenge– the saplings and bushes lurking just beneath the surface created random pockets of hollowness that could pull you down if you didn’t keep those tips up.
On that note, while on approach John said his buddy recently started skiing on rockered skis and his comment on them was that “They lean back for you.” An interesting way too look at the more modern equipment for sure, not that any of us would EVER be caught leaning back, but you have to think it would help in snow conditions that might be prone to pulling you under. Here’s the best shot of the day, below, capturing what happens when those tips go down and a good reason to always be ready with a camera.
Where were we? Well as much as it seems like a classic Sean move to not disclose a precise location, I happen to agree that it isn’t always necessary to announce to everyone and their brother all the special spots, especially when current conditions limit the amount of skiable terrain right now. And part of me is just afraid to be put on Sean’s ‘no call’ list if I disclose too much.
But to pass along current conditions and backcountry observations as they should be shared while not revealing which one of Shean’s Secret Stashes we visited, here are the important stats: We skinned and skied northeast and east aspects, from 9,800 feet to just over 12,000 feet, and in the 35-40 degree range– and though a bit hollow, everything was just fine.
Some more snow would be nice. With the forecast looking lean for the week we’re going ice climbing next weekend. According to the Colorado Powder Forecast though, things are about to change for the better.