Front Range Conditions: Memorial Day Weekend 2014

This Memorial Day Weekend was not as kind as holiday weekends from the past years. Clouds dominated the Front Range evenings and prevented a freeze. Evening temperatures at Loveland Pass and Rollins Pass did not break freezing. Thunderstorms kicked up every afternoon. It even snowed a bit.

Despite these challenges we sent the Front Range Ski Mountaineering team into the peaks on Memorial Day and Tuesday, May 27. Here is what they found:

Memorial Day: The R&D team worked their way up the Rainbow Road, just off of the Fall River Road, to Mount Eva and Witter Peak. They were able to drive past 10,225’ on the Rainbow Road, and high clearance 4WD could make it to a quarter mile before the Chinns Lake Road intersection. It wouldn’t matter as this intersection is on private land and there is no parking here. Parking is back at the Continental Divide Trail at 10,225’. Consistent skiing began at the Chinns Lake Road intersection. The Rainbow Road had sporadic snow, but skinning could be had in the adjacent forest. The Chinns Lake Road is snow covered the whole way and awkwardly out sloped.

The fresh snow from Sunday night made Perry Peak look like a good ski descent, but the R&D team knew better than to trust that lurking boneyard. The upper bowls of Eva and Witter were stocked full of snow. Even though a deep freeze did not occur, and the 2 to 3 inches of new snow insulated the under layers, the low angled bowls of this beautiful and under utilized basin skied great. The Welcome Couloir on Witter looked unwelcoming as a lot of loose wet slides had barreled through the couloir and left a bumpy channel in the lower half of the couloir and debris piles in the run out. The face above the couloir still looks good, though.

Tuesday: We sent the R&D team to the Mount Evans Road to scope out conditions on the road and sample the food at the Echo Lake Lodge. Word from the Echo Lake Lodge staff is that the Mount Evans Road was closed consistently through the weekend.  The road opened at 1 pm on Tuesday once the fresh snow had melted (open to Summit Lake). After some chili and club sandwiches the R&D team headed up. They report that the routes around the Summit Lake Bowl look great. The Sunrise Couloir and the steep routes on the South Face of Mount Spalding have some loose surface slides that could freeze into coral reef, but for the most part they are clean. The cornices above these routes are massive. The North Face of Mount Evans is full of snow. The Northeast Face look like crap: rock fest. The East Face (just south of the Northeast Face) looks spectacular and ready for big banking turns.

Check out the Twitter handle @frskimo for some landscape pictures of this weekend.