It doesn’t get any better then this….(but warmer may be nice)…
Jason & Carrie Leonard joined us right after Christmas to work off those extra holiday calories. And, as a gift to Carrie, Jason thought her first backcountry ski trip would be a great way to cap off their Crested Butte holiday vacation. Right he was……
The 3-mile ski to the hut was exhilarating and gave us a great tour below the Snodgrass Glades that we would return to ski on our way out. We arrived at the hut by about noon, under mostly cloudy skies and some light snow. Once there we stoked the fire in the tiny wood stove, pulled out some crackers, cheese, and salami, and put our feet up for a bit. Then, after lunch we took a tour of the mellow slopes below the stunning rock walls that make up the East face of Gothic Mountain. Here, Carrie learned the ropes about skinning, climbing, and made her first powder filled backcountry turns ever!! To her own surprise she did quite well. Then Jason and I proceeded to go for one more set of turns before dark on the opposite side of the valley, and found some excellent snow in some beautiful aspen glades.
Then back to the hut for dinner, drinks, and some relaxing by the wood stove. While Jason cracked open the 2 liters of wine he brought, Carrie & I made a great lemon cream chicken and fettuccine dinner that stuck to our ribs and helped keep us warm throughout the night. Despite the -25 degree temperatures just outside the hut door, we were warmed by the light of the wood stove, plentiful food, good drink, and holiday cheer.
The next morning we awoke to frigid temperatures, but brilliant blue skies and abundant Colorado sunshine. Over hot coffee, and bagels and eggs we admired our tracks out of the hut window from the day before, and made plans for the ski out that day. The snow was like styrofoam on the way out, as the cold, cold temperatures had rung any remaining moisture out of it, and Jason & I were treated to true Colorado champagne powder skiing on the slopes of Snodgrass Mountain.
After our first 800′ lap, Jason was unstoppable and was heading for the skin track before I could ask him if he wanted to take another lap. For being a flatlander from Oklahoma, this guy’s got a set of lungs on him, and he continued to just truck on uphill motivated by his unquenchable thirst for untracked powder. Our next run was longer, and the snow impossibly better, as it was “cold smoke in the shade” all the way back to down to the road. This 1200′ run, and the disappearance of the sun on such a frigid day, made us both tuck tail and head up the 2 mile ski out to the trailhead, where warm food, and cold beers awaited.
Overall, this first hut trip of the season was a huge success, as the hut is in great shape, and the skiing phenomenal. It was so good, Jason & I are goin’ out again after we catch our breath, and let our extremities thaw out for a day. Looking forward to many more of these this season, and again with Jason & Carrie in the future……..Thanks Guys………Happy Holidays!
–Jayson Simons-Jones (Guide)