We skied Castle Peak’s North Couloir last weekend, an early season favorite of mine. 14er ski descents are usually reserved for the spring months, but there are exceptions. Wet weather in Aspen during the autumn months falls as snow in Castle’s Montezuma Basin, and reasonably good skiing can be had up there as early as late September. The North Couloir is a bit more finicky in the early seasonbut I’ve found that the line is in most years I go up there. Basically, if the ski season is off to a good start— Aspen Mountain is opening this Saturday, two weeks early— then you can usually count on the the North Couloir to be skiable.
Christy, Joey, and I drove up the road a short way past the creek crossing and skinned from there, which made for a pretty big day. It was actually Christy’s first ski of the season, she was just fine jumping right in where we left off last spring. I had skied a little bit last weekend, and not surprising, Joey’s been out a bunch already and skied this very line back in October. Apart from some early season boot discomfort and thin snow cover, it was pretty straightforward Colorado ski mountaineering— skin the road, climb through the basin, boot the couloir, and you’re pretty much on top.
Early season skiing always gets me fired up for the winter ahead, even when the snow leaves much to be desired. Pulling the gear out of the closet after summer is always fun, but it’s also due in part to the excitement that comes with change in seasons here, something we love about Colorado. Just when you’re getting a little burned out on the summer activities you’ve been focused on (I’m good on long runs for a while), you jump back into the different activities that the next season brings. Back in June, Christy and I welcomed the idea to hang the skis up for the summer. This past Saturday we came full-circle. Summer’s gone, winter’s here, and we couldn’t be happier about it.