The Outdoor Junkie | All Blogs


A Backcountry Classic with Chocolate Topping

By Ann Driggers

From the viewpoint on Highlands Peak at Aspen Highlands ski area, North Hayden Peak stands out big time. Though several miles away, a skiers eye is drawn to the broad north face, as were ski area developers in the 1930’s. Luckily, plans for ‘Ski Hayden’ fell through, leaving this beautiful ski descent to those who prefer to earn their turns and enjoy the solitude of the backcountry. I recently had the opportunity to make my first pilgrimage to this Elk Range classic with ski partner Scott McCurdy. We left the trailhead early in the morning as the day was forecast to be warm and snow conditions to become less stable later in the day. After crossing Castle Creek by shimmying across a fallen tree, we passed through a meadow and began the long climb (4,316 feet to be precise) up a steep sided drainage through dense forest. The terrain was a little tricky to navigate and we skinned a fine line between being cliffed out while steep sidehilling on the one side and bushwhacking in the bottom of drainage on the other. As Scott had been there before we managed to follow the correct route and not get into too much trouble. After the first 2,300 feet of climbing the dark forest finally spat us out at the base of the Stammberger face, named after the famous extreme ski pioneer Fritz Stammberger, who was the first to ski the steep 45 degree slope.

Stammberger Face.jpg

Another two hours of laboring and we reached the summit of North Hayden Peak at 13,316 feet. Taking in the views of the surrounding Elk Mountains, we were disappointed to see the usually snowy summits streaked reddish brown. It was sad to see even the highest and most majestic peaks, such as Maroon, Capitol and Pyramid, had not escaped the thick layers of dust from recent wind storms.

Scott launches from the summit. The dust layer is quite apparent on the highlands ridge behind.

Scott from Summit.jpg

Fortunately the dust was covered by 6 inches of snow for our descent and we made hero turns in windbuffed powder on the upper face. Lower down we threaded our way through the gullies at the side of the Stammberger, which we decided to avoid due to the funky looking snow. We confirmed Ski Hayden is worthy of its reputation as a Colorado classic backcountry ski.

Skiing the upper face of Hayden.

Hayden Face.jpg 

The signatures of a backcountry skier - skin track and turns

hayden ski tracks.jpg

In contrast to the easy skiing above, varied and challenging snow conditions dictated survival skiing in the thick forest on the lower slopes. Northerly shaded aspects were cold wintery powder, westerly and southerly aspects sun crusted and east facing slopes were almost corn snow, but not quite. Feeling quite the snow experts at this point, we creatively named it 'hominy' snow. The snowpack is still in its transition phase from winter to spring. The full impact of the recently added dust layers remains to be seen but does not bode well for the spring ski season. When we returned to the meadow we had crossed just five hours earlier, it had changed from a vanilla latte to dark chocolate milk, and the snowpack had visibly shrunk.

Is this really snow?

Chocolate Milk.jpg

It seems our snow is going a lot quicker this year than usual. But I hope not, as I have a lot more backcountry classics, such as Ski Hayden, on the list, and the spring ski season has barely begun.

Ski Hayden from the trailhead. Our ski tracks are visible if you have either really good eyes or computer screen.

ski tracks.jpg

COMMENTS

Please Login or Register to leave a comment.

Thank you Ann Driggers for sharing these pretty bestessay.org pictures. The images and story you shared about A Backcountry Classic with Chocolate Topping are simply gorgeous, in love with this beauty,

I think this is an informative post and it is very useful and knowledgeable. therefore, I would like to thank you for the efforts you have made in writing this article.  ngo registration

New web site is looking good. Thanks for the great effort.  attorney

One of many blog sites on line, I like to browsing the ones you have just about the most; everyone supply individuals a huge amount of advice of hospitality attire minor article. My organization is in need of together with seeing that you now have a heart and soul meant for informative posting, That i worked you can actually issue my family during the ideal focus. Is it possible assistance?  https://onmogul.com/stories/nutrisystem-lean-13-review-shocking-information-released-by-the-healthyusa

What we realized can be appropriate, recognize you must separate your connect involving active tangible along with brand-new. You have to be mindful if you take care of your tangible with the partitions, since in any other case you will find there’s possibility to separate. It usually is greater to have the support associated with an pro.  health administration degree

I enjoy a person’s posting. Its fine to check out draftkings promo code you actually explain in words with the soul plus resolution during this vital matter is often without difficulty viewed.

Document was aware of the fact that impact was first only just all the foreign language benefit from it also yet seemed problematic. At this time it’s definitely do- effective. With thanks for those support.  hl vision restore

I can set up my new idea from this post. It gives in depth information. Thanks for this valuable information for all,..  best driveway surface

I wanted to thank you for this great read!! I definitely enjoying every little bit of it I have you bookmarked to check out new stuff you post.  IPTV Android

One encourage plenty of online sites onto your web log My group is allowed to remain thinking about how i ever in your life discover groundwork at may.  bedava bonus veren bahis siteleri

A particular entice quite a lot of web sites onto your web site fire wood Your staff might be allowed to are enthusiastic about by domain flipping ever previously for you explore research by might possibly.  gram scales

A person stimulate ample online sites on your website check This set is definitely permitted to keep pondering buying and selling websites possibly inside your life come across ground moves during could.  click here

An fascinating discussion is value comment. I think that it is best to write extra on this matter, it won’t be a taboo topic however generally people are not enough to talk on such topics. To the next. Cheers   simply comfortable

This was really an interesting topic and I kinda agree with what you have mentioned here!  nepali movie download

I just couldn’t leave your website before telling you that I truly enjoyed the top quality info you present to your visitors? Will be back again frequently to check up on new posts.  drug and alcohol rehab in Colorado

I’m keen on ones write-up. It truly is beneficial to discover people verbalize on the cardiovascular system in addition to understanding within this significant theme is usually simply discovered. guidance check out web page.  Best 3 day detox cleanse

My spouse and i want to show you i only look at your blog along with My spouse and i still find it quite exciting along with helpful..  Jual Laptop Gaming

I have read your blog it is very helpful for me. I want to say thanks to you. I have bookmark your site for future updates.  free phone number lookup

Hmm… I read blogs on a similar topic, but i never visited your blog. I added it to favorites and i’ll be your constant reader.  granite countertops new jersey

I actually believe that it is pretty helpful plus enlightening .. Best Hunting Knife




Recent Posts
KNOWING BIRDERS…AND PHOTOGRAPHERS…AND OWL PROWLS
By Nic.Korte
Saturday, June 3, 2017

LOUDY-SIMPSON MIGRANT TRAP
By Nic.Korte
Sunday, May 14, 2017

TIME FOR A CHAT (A DOUBLE ENTENDRE FOR EARTH DAY)
By Nic.Korte
Sunday, April 23, 2017

WISDOM’S WISDOM OR HUMAN WISDOM?
By Nic.Korte
Friday, April 7, 2017

Tech Education a Must for Tech-Starved Mesa County
By David Goe
Friday, March 31, 2017


TOP JOBS




THE DAILY SENTINEL
734 S. Seventh St.
Grand Junction, CO 81501
970-242-5050; M-F 8:00 - 5:00
Editions
Subscribe to print edition
E-edition
Advertisers
eTear Sheets/ePayments
Information

© 2017 Grand Junction Media, Inc.
By using this site you agree to the Visitor Agreement and the Privacy Policy