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Playing it Safe

By Ann Driggers

During the last 10 days a significant amount of snow has fallen in the high country, adding a heavy load to and burying an old and rotten layer at the bottom of the snowpack. This has created a precarious and hazardous situation in the backcountry. The avalanche danger is rated high by the Colorado Avalanche Information Center meaning both natural and human triggered avalanches are likely. Indeed, two people have died in avalanches during the last week in the Elk Mountains. Now is not the time to push the envelope. The Grand Mesa, while not immune from avalanches, has plenty of low angle terrain to satisfy powder hounds who seek to avoid exposure to the current high danger. It’s also a quick and easy drive from Grand Junction. Today the clouds finally broke after almost two weeks of snow. It was an ideal day to hit up one of my favorite areas for backcountry skiing, the Big Top. Here, my fellow members of the circus and I, found enough powder to keep us clowning around all day long.

Krissy and Mike Steele skin towards a run down Dumbo.

Skinning to Dumbo.jpg 

Twyla Gingrich plays in powder on low angle terrain.

Lapping it Up.jpg

As today was the winter solstice, these north facing slopes were long in shadow and short of sun. After four laps of the skin track, the sun dipped below the horizon. An early end to a perfect day of playing it safe.

Grand Mesa Sign.jpg

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