Knee-deep in the Eldora Backcountry

Plenty of snow to go around despite the dozens of people.

Plenty of snow to go around despite the dozens of people.

After the madness of the Holiday Season, several months of frantically trying (unsuccessfully) to finish a huge paper, several weeks of (successful) intensive trail running, and a several days of prep work for teaching this semester, it was definitely time for a quick mental health break.  As usual, for the first trip of the season, I had no idea what to expect.  Thus I stayed local and erred on the side of generality with a quick recon of the Jenny Creek area (behind the Eldora ski area) on the mid-weight backcountry skis.  I’ve been up there a couple times before, but never up to the Årestua Hut in the winter.

The good news was there were several inches of new snow and more was arriving every minute.  The bad news was that it was arriving horizontally borne on a sustained 30 mph wind.  It was an efficient reminder of how full full winter conditions can be.

Snowing hard enough I've got accumulation on my hat!

Snowing hard enough I’ve got accumulation on my hat!

However, it was also a nice reminder of the tactile joys of skiing.  Down in the trees, the weather wasn’t bad and the climb up to the hut was steep but very pleasant.  Once above treeline, it was pretty fierce, but I took quick shelter in the cabin and had a nice half hour lunch.  I’d hoped to do some touring in the open glades atop Guinn Mountain, maybe even drop west down the steep terrain into the Yankee Doodle Lake area, then out via Jenny Creek.  However, watching the trees whip back and forth as snow blew in convinced me to head back down.

IMG_2617What had been an hour-long slog up on the way in, turned into a very fast descent on the packed ski track as well as some glorious, knee-deep wallowing in the steep glades half-way down.  My newly-tuned skis were scary-fast and I was thankful that powder slowed me down and provided a nice, soft cushion for falling into.  I may or may not have even managed a couple passable telemark turns!

Back on the Jenny Creek trail, I toured out on the low-angle stuff, re-installed the skins for the climb back up Eldora, then had a blazing ascent dodging resort skiers on the Bunny Slope back to the car.

Map and profile

Map and profile

It was a great start to the year and exactly the study break I needed!  Sadly, the camera didn’t capture the beauty of the day at all, and it went into deep storage for the best part anyway.  Ah well, I guess you had to be there (and you should have been!).

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