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It’s A Wrap

By Ann Driggers

After last weekend's incredible ski on Mount Sopris, I was all fired up to squeeze out one more day of turns before hanging up the skis for the season. With another round of rain and snow last week it looked like I might just get another chance for some good skiing. I wasn't wrong.

Climbing high up into the Elk Mountains are Craig Burger, Kussum and Kya:

Pearl Basin in the background looked like there was still plenty of good skiing to be had. We decided to head up into Montezuma Basin however, our sights set on a ski of the north face of Castle Peak.

From afar the snow conditions didn't look too great but seeing that it had been skied recently we thought we'd check it out, plus I wanted to use my crampons at least once this year. About half way up the snow became even more rotten and shallow and it was apparent a ski descent would be survival turns at best. Having skied this line twice previously, once in corn, the other in powder, I decided I really didn't want to end my season by skiing it in rocky, rotten windblown sastrugi. 500 feet from the summit I decided to turn around and go over to the Montezuma Headwall which was covered in fresh untracked powder - a much more appetizing descent for me. Since Kussum (Craig's puppy) had yet to summit a fourteener, they dumped their skis and scampered up to bag the summit.

We reconvened down in the basin and enjoyed some splendid powder turns for well over two thousand feet.

The skiing was really, really good but with the added challenge of trying to predict the angle from which Kussum was going to rugby tackle you. She just loves to chase and play with skiers. Here, Kussum sets up for a move to take me out and I am wondering if I should try to avoid her. I learned the best strategy was to play her bluff and keep on my line - she'd eventually cave and get out the way.

Montezuma Basin holds snow well throughout most of the year so it was no surprise the skiing was good up here. In the distance however, the mountains were looking distinctly skinny for April. 

We were fortunate that we could ski to and from parking giving us a descent of almost 4,000 feet. It was a great day and with that I'm hanging my skis up for the season. Although I have never ended my ski season so early, usually skiing well into June, it's time to move on to other adventures. Trail running, backpacking, cycling, mountain biking and water sports are calling my name.

With 77 days of skiing under my belt for the season I will count it as a good one, despite the overall poor snow conditions.

Now it's a wrap. Last turns......


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