The spring snowpack is rapidly changing to a summer snowpack. It is a good thing the Front Range had a significant snow this winter, otherwise the snow would be gone. Given that the transition to summer is occurring rapidly we sent the R&D team to the high peaks.
We spent the day of June 8 in the Guanella Pass area. The peaks surrounding this pass are high thirteeners or fourteeners and hold summer snow. The Front Range Ski Mountaineering R&D team spent the majority of the day on Square Top, Argentine Peak and in the Leavenworth Creek and Naylor Lake drainages. The East Face of Square Top, the Southeast Bowl of Argentine Peak, and the Northeast Face of Argentine Peak are all holding snow and good lines. The views from the Continental Divide in this area are spectacular and reveal good looking snow in the Santiago Mine Bowl on McClellan, the south facing snowfields of Edwards, and the east facing lines of Grays and Torreys. The north facing couloirs on Square Top are not connected from top to bottom. The Northwest Bowl of Bierstadt is still skiable from several hundred feet below the summit.
The Silver Dollar Lake Road still has snow drifts and downed trees that required parking at the Guanella Pass Road. The Silver Dollar Lake trail is heavily snow covered. The chutes that drop down from the north side of Square Top have deeply buried the trail, and in the forest between the trailhead and Naylor Lake there is deep and consistent snow. The trail opens up above tree line and away from the chutes. We spent a portion of the morning on the snowless Mount Wilcox. Although snow was the objective, the dry terrain of Wilcox made for easier travel up and down the valley.
A freeze occurred on the evening of June 7 which allowed for more rapid travel than in weeks past. A hard freeze most certainly occurred on the evening of June 8. This has been the challenge this spring. No hard freezes. They were absent most of May and have returned in the past week. It looks like temperatures will warm up again and these freezes will go away.
The thunder snow returned and a heavy snow storm hit the area around 11 am. This time lightning was mixed into the equation, leading to a tense descent off of Argentine Peak! This storm was a hundred times for volatile than the one that hit us on Frosty the week before.