The other day a guy sitting next to me on the lift at Eldora said to his buddy, “it would be really cool if we could ski twelve months of the year here in Colorado.” I butted in and said yes it could be done, but it sounded better than reality. Ideas always sound better on the chairlift, around a few beers, or on the chairlift after a few beers.
A few years ago a buddy of mine, Cheyenne Wills, and I decided to challenge each other to see how long we could drag out the ski season. The goal was to make at least one run every month of the calendar year. Our streak ended at 20 months of consecutive skiing. In case you’re interested and want to try it yourself, here’s how it went down.
January – April
OK, that was easy. We pretty much skied every weekend, and most of it was at lift accessible areas. Our usual haunts were Arapahoe Basin, Breckenridge, and Vail. In fact, it was not hard to find good snow, and we made plenty of turns. Lucky for us, it just happened to be decent winter.
While most of the resorts were closed and most folks were thinking of spring, Arapahoe Basin was still open in May. Actually, it stayed open that year through June. Instead, chose to hike a few peaks since the spring skiing conditions in the backcountry were great. The usual suspects were Rocky Mountain National Park, Indian Peaks, Montezuma, Loveland Pass, and Berthod Pass. The best trip we had that month was near Montezuma in the Deer Creek drainage.
Deer Creek Basin above Montezuma
The backcountry skiing was great in June, as well. The corn snow was perfect in the mid-morning hours, and we had no problem finding spots to make a few turns. However, due to procrastination, we got out only once that month and it was in Rocky Mountain National Park right off Trail Ridge Road…yeah, I know, we were lazy bastards.
Finding a few nice patches of snow off Trail Ridge Road in June. If you look behind me you’ll see a few elk we spooked on the descent.
July was unusually hot. The rivers were swollen, and Cheyenne was spending most of his time whitewater kayaking, and I was doing a lot of running. You know the saying, “there are no friends on a powder day?” The same applies for skiing in the summer. So, you should have a determined partner that will get your ass up in the mountains when you’d rather be drinking and enjoying the summer weather down at lower elevations. However, we did have a great morning on July 2 hiking to the top of James Peak and skiing the east face. This is where the novelty wore off.
Cheyenne hiking up Saint Mary’s Glacier en route to James Peak.
Oops. We almost forgot about August, but while on a trail run in the Indian Peaks, I spied a
nice decent pitch of snow on Mt Epworth above Rollins Pass. Actually, it was the only patch of snow I could find anywhere in the Indian Peaks that didn’t involve a death march and climbing gear. The summer heat was raging down in Boulder, and it was a nice relief to spend the morning on the snow. It was so nice, I think we took several runs that day.
It was a shorts day on Mt. Epworth.
September almost got away from us too. We actually waiting around til the end of the month foolishly believing the weatherman’s predictions of an early season dump that never materialized. So, we searched high and higher for a patch of snow to get our September run, but none could be found…except a miserable patch of “snow” on Saint Mary’s Glacier. It felt downright silly at the moment and looks even worse in the pictures. Yuk. Thank goodness that October and new snow was just around the corner.
I guess this counts as snow.
Well, October came and almost went without much snow. Facing the last week of October, we had two options a) ski Saint Mary’s Glacier again or b) the icy ribbon of death of early-season skiing at Arapahoe Basin. We chose the latter. Arapahoe Basin opened the last weekend, and we braved the crowds for our last month of craptastic turns.
November – December
Back on fresh snow, we finished up our twelve month ski season making turns at the usual suspects. In total, we ended up with a 20 month ski season which is not too shabby. In retrospect, it was a fun challenge, but I’m not sure I would do it again. I checked one off the Bucket List, but there are just too many other things to do in Colorado during the beautiful summer months.
Corsair on Peak 10 at Breckenridge.