Today was one of my coolest experiences and opportunity in the back country! My friend Chuck invited me to go a skin with him and the director of COBS (Colorado Outward Bound Schools). I knew this was going to be a great trip no matter what happened and I was going to learn a lot. With chuck knowing everyone at copper we got a sled to pull us form the bottom of copper to the access gate on the far west side of copper at 8:00 am. We got to the access gate and started off the day with a nice mellow ski down to Guller Creek. Me being the youngest and least educated of the group thought that I would be in the back watching and learning........WRONG. We threw on the skins, I took lead, and off we went towards Jacques Ridge! Good thing I have been working on breaking trails and navigating because after an hour and half of breaking trail threw deep dark timber some how I put us out right on top of the ridge,BOOOYAA!
We put on some new layers knowing that we were going to be above treeline for the next few hours. Getting to the high point on the ridge was not to bad, you just had to stay away from the edge because of the fairly good size cornice all the way across. We made it about 1/4th of the way across the ridge before we ducked behind some rocks and had a quick lunch. After lunch it was back into the wind and new challenges. We had to skin across some very exposed faces, then we ran out of snow and had to do some rock/dirt scrambling up to the top of Jacques Peak! We didn't stay on the top for long but got a quick summit shot off then it was time to ski! We had some awesome turns down the east ridge back to the Copper Mtn boundary. We got back into the ski resort and enjoyed are very mellow ski back to the bass of Copper.
Planned on getting up at 5:30 and being at the trail head at 7, but when you wake up and its -13 degrees outside it doesn't sound fun! I turned my phone off and fell back asleep, woke back up at 7 and still -2. I slowly got out of bed, had a bowl of cereal and coffee, got in the truck and drove to Breck. I picked Mt Helen for several reasons, one was that it is east facing but never steeper then 30 degrees. The avi problems are mainly on east facing slopes, so I have stayed away from them all year! With that in mind i wanted to find out what the snow was really like on east facing slopes but in a safe zone. I also pick Helen because it has some great views of other gnarly lines for this spring. I left at 9:15 and it was 7 degrees. I made quick work to treeline but then i bonked! I don't know why but the wind has always scared me and being by myself i was not really feeling it. I stopped hydrated, ate and pulled out my inclinometer to measured the slope. There is something to be said about this little guy! You spend hundreds of dollars on avi gear but for some reasons not a lot of people will pay 20$ for this little tool! Being above treeline i never hit a slope over 25 degrees, perfect for a solo mission. Also as you can see form the picture the top 300 yards of the peak is mostly rock hahah. It was a easy call for me to keep going and know that i was safe.I think i had to worry more about hitting rocks and not ruining my skis then an avalanche. Got to the top, got some great views, to cold and windy to sign the summit log but that's not why i came. I got back to treeline and that's where all the fun began. I skied an awesome gully that was 28 degrees with a nice 4-6 inches of fresh, made the trip worth it! If you ski Mt Helen the best skiing is in the trees! There was not enough snow for me to dig around in and find out what the snow is like on that aspect thought. This means i wasn't able to find out what the snow is really like on this aspect but i can tell you that if you don't have a inclinometer there pretty sweet and worth it!
Well today was a solo test day for my knee, I wanted to ski something hard but nice and short. I had no idea where to go until i was driving home and I saw tracks down Wichita. I had to decide on that or the NW passage on Atlantic. I promised to ski the NW passage with some friends so I found myself driving to Frisco at 7:30. I started hiking at 8, and should have done a little more research on this line. I guess you can skin up the back side pretty easy, it's just steep and takes a while. I decided to go straight up the son of a bitch. I zig-zaged up the front side trees on looker's left side. Then at the choke point in the middle of the face where the lower and upper couloirs split I threw the skis on my back and started to kick steps. Straight up I went and next thing you know hour and half later I was standing on top. Lots of people think this is a dangerous way to hike but with the avi levels down in the green, no post holing or whooping / shooting cracks I felt safe enough to go for it. At the top I geared up and dropped in. It was still nice and early in the day so not much had warmed up and I had some nice mixed pow with hard corn. I got to the bottom and was happy my knee was feeling good and I made it! All in all maybe if you hike the back side it is easier and more fun but in all honesty I think there are better lines / skiing to be had with easier hikes.