Front Range Conditions June 15

The Front Range’s big winter of 2013-14 is finally paying off for spring ski mountaineering. Although the lower peaks are melting away, there are copious amounts of snow on the north and east faces of the high peaks. Also, the freeze has returned to the high country as well (at least for this weekend).

We sent the R&D team up Grizzly Gulch below Torreys and Grizzly Peak this weekend. A solid freeze on Saturday night resulted in good travel up the valley. We were able to drive to the Grizzly Gulch trailhead at the crossing of the stream exiting from Stevens Gulch. If we had a high clearance off road rig we could have continued driving through the three stream crossings to basin between Kelso and Torrey’s north face. Beyond here the jeep road is well covered in snow.

A massive avalanche released from the Emperor Couloir this winter and packed the valley floor with trees and snow. It may take all summer for this snow to melt. See below for some of the pictures.  

We saw several skiers on Torrey’s Tuning Fork, and reports from the Emperor Couloir is that the top did not defrost by normal ski descent time. The Grizzly Couloir is ready to go. We explored further up the valley and had great descents on the East Face of Cupid and the North Slopes of Grizzly.

On Friday we were able to get several high vantage points and catch a glimpse of what was still out there. All aspects of Torrey’s peak are in, the North Face of Evans looks great, the Continental Divide north of Loveland looks really good for this time of year (Golden Bear, Hagar, Citadel), and the various couloirs and bowls along Continental Divide between James Peak and Rollins Pass are in.  Queens Way on Apache is in good form, The Pawnee Couloir looks solid, and the terrain around Blue Lake is skiing well.  We saw ski tracks in the dust layer on Radiobeacon, Sawtooth, and a few other

 This is less than half of the debris field. It is about 400 yards wide and debris goes about 50 yards into the forest.

This is less than half of the debris field. It is about 400 yards wide and debris goes about 50 yards into the forest.

 Jackstraw debris.

Jackstraw debris.

 Moonset over the Grizzly Couloir.

Moonset over the Grizzly Couloir.

 Torrey's Tuning Fork looks great!

Torrey's Tuning Fork looks great!