With three quarters of a day left in my temporary bachelorhood, I loaded the skis on the car and headed for Meadow Mountain. For a pretty mellow mountain, I’ve had decidedly mixed results being 1:3 on previous winter ascents. Usually extreme wind is the problem. But this time, the weather was flawless and I was hoping to finish off the BC ski season in style.
The first mile of trail looked like it was packed pretty well and I opted to just hike it. This turned out to be a good idea as there were plenty of blow-downs and bare spots to contend with. By the time my tips were getting caught in the overhead branches a little too often, I was able to switch to skins and climb the steep bowl, sweating mightily in the hot sun. Above the bowl, I wound through the trackless, dense evergreens before breaking out above tree line on the moderate slopes below the saddle.
The view from the saddle is the main reason to climb Meadow: after three miles of steep approach, you reach the ridge between Meadow Mountain on the right and Mt. St. Vrain on the left. This is also the southern rim of the incredible Wild Basin and the awesome panorama to the north and west appears suddenly over the course of a dozen strides. The snow also completely vanishes. The weather was fine and I had plenty of time, so I stashed my skis and set out on foot over the tundra aimed for Mt. St. Vrain, feeling grateful for my soft leather boots rather than stiff plastics. Unfortunately, St. Vrain appeared a lot closer than it was and I began to think better of my plans. I had places to be and people to pick up at the airport, so I turned around, bagged the unnamed minor summit (Pt. 11478) between St. Vrain and Meadow with excellent views of Mts. Audubon, Paiute, and the Indian Peaks to the southwest, then began my descent.
As usual, the descent was less graceful than it could have been. As usual, I fell a lot in the rapidly-softening powder. But for once I felt like maybe, just maybe, I did a couple of bona-fide decent backcountry turns. As I got lower and lower, the terrain became more and more constrained and the snowcover thinner and thinner. The rapidly-dwindling snow back on the trail convinced me to that hoofing it was the better part of valor, but I still managed to ski the last half mile to the car through aspen glades.
It was a glorious day in the mountains and a good way to finish the season in style. Or is the season finished after all? Regardless, I am satisfied and ready to move onto summer pursuits.