Tuesday, 11/28/2017, Backcountry Ski Skills Seminar Field Trips

OverviewBackcountry ski tours provide realistic settings to practice a decision-making framework in avalanche terrain. The best way to practice skills learned in avalanche courses is to apply them consistently on all ski tours where all participants share responsibilities for trip planning, working as a team, assessing weather, snowpack, and terrain risks, choosing terrain for ski ascents and descents, and formulating travel strategies. All participants practice small group leadership. The emphasis is on trip planning, snowpack and terrain assessment, and decision making. Ski descents are still a priority, but secondary. This is not a ski mountaineering course nor is it an avalanche training course. There is no fee for the seminar. Seminar director: John Raich, john.raich@colostate.edu.OrientationAn evening orientation session is scheduled for Tuesday, November 28, 6:30-8:30 p.m., location TBA. The orientation includes discussion of field trip planning and management and introduces planning tools. Leaders and assistants are strongly encouraged to attend the orientation, it is optional for other seminar participants.Field tripsSeveral field trips are scheduled over a period of 5 months, January through May, at different locations on gradually more challenging terrain at Cameron Pass and RMNP. Field trips are conducted in one or more groups of 4 with overall coordination by the seminar director. Participation on the last two field trips may require completion of an earlier field trip. Those registered for the seminar have priority. Tentative field trip schedule:January 20 - Montgomery PassFebruary 17 - North Diamond PkMarch 17 - Nokhu Ridge or Seven Utes MtnApril 7 - Richthofen Saddle or Mahler Couloir or Nokhu CouloirMay 19 - Hallett Pk or Tyndall Glacier or Flattop MtnBe aware that trip dates may be changed later because of high avalanche risk, poor weather, marginal driving conditions, availability of trip leaders, or other reasonsRegistration options(1) Seminar: Register online for the entire seminar.At the time of the seminar registration, you should indicate your preference:* Register as a field trip leader or assistant leader: You commit to lead a group of 4 on at least one field trip and participate in at least another. Field trip leaders initiate the field trip planning process and coordinate activities for their groups.* Register as a participant: You commit to participate in at least 2 field trips. You share responsibilities for planning and conduct of the trip with leaders and other participants and should be prepared to assume small group leadership roles on portions of the field trips.Seminar registration puts your name on a mailing list. You will be notified regarding field trip locations and dates prior to when they are posted in the CMC activity schedule. You sign up for specific field trips at that time.(2) Field trips: 'Register with leader', i.e. the seminar director at john.raich@colostate.edu, for each field trip after it is posted on the CMC activity schedule. Those registered for the seminar have priority to sign up for field trips.(3) Space available basis: Qualified CMC members not registered for the seminar may sign up with the director for specific field trips prior to the field trip start if there is room.

Leader: John Raich
Type: Ski, Pace: Moderate
see official page

Saturday, 12/2/2017, Backcountry Ski Tour, Cameron Pass Review of Avalanche Rescue

This will probably be the first backcountry ski tour of the season for most participants. We will therefore emphasize avalanche terrain assessment and a review of avalanche rescue techniques. You will need your avalanche gear for a practice session. Route choice will be limited by snowpack and avalanche conditions. For early season ski tours, we usually select shorter routes, mostly below treeline, on the east side of the pass. The early season snowpack usually means a relatively thin snow cover, obstacles such as downed trees, bare areas, rocks. Careful skiing at slower speeds is usually required to avoid such obstacles.For an overview of avalanche rescue:https://backcountryaccess.com/features/bca-companion-rescue-series/For an overview of the range of backcountry ski routes in the Cameron Pass area:www.frontrangeskimo.com/cameron-pass-north/www.frontrangeskimo.com/cameron-pass-seven-utes/www.frontrangeskimo.com/nokhu-crags/Be aware that much of the terrain described above is avalanche terrain and that many of the routes are advised only under low avalanche risk conditions.The backcountry tour will involve a round trip of up to 5 miles with an elevation gain of up to 1,800', usually with a portion on an established track. Be prepared to break trail for part of the route. Ascent will be moderately paced with periodic short stops. You should be prepared to ski untracked snow in variable conditions, both above and below treeline, in trees of varying density. Terrain steepness will generally be 30 degrees or less, except for short, steeper sections. You should be prepared for an outing of 4-5 hours, trailhead to trailhead. Driving to and from the trailhead adds about another 2.5 hours from the meeting location.On an established track, members of the group can ascend at a pace that is comfortable for them, as long as the fastest in the group never gets too far ahead of the slowest. When setting a new track, the group needs to stay together to communicate on route choices. It is essential for safety reasons to ski with the group in a way to maintain visual or hearing contact during all ski descents. You need to keep the leader or the leader's ski tracks in sight at all times. We will use a buddy system where you stay in close contact with another skier.Bring AT, tele, or split board gear with climbing skins. A helmet (skiing or climbing) is recommended. Avalanche gear (beacon, shovel, probe) and knowledge of how to use it, is required. Bring lunch, including a drink. Winter clothing, including wind protection, is essential.Backcountry AT/Tele ratings for this trip (see Notes below):Fitness - MODERATESkill - BLUEAvalanche training - LEVEL 1 AVALANCHE COURSE AND GEAR REQUIREDPlease read the trip description and the notes on backcountry skiing ratings below to determine if this trip is for you. Check:NOAA weather forecast: http://www.weather.gov/bou/CAIC avalanche forecast: http://avalanche.state.co.us/Front Range forecast: http://avalanche.state.co.us/forecasts/backcountry-avalanche/front-range/before you leave for this ski tour.By signing up for this trip, participants agree to allow the trip leader to share contact information with other participants.

Leader: John Raich
Type: Ski, Trail mileage: 5, Pace: Casual, Elevation Gain: 1800
see official page

Thursday, 12/7/2017, Lecture + field workshop on avalanche awareness & route selection

This workshop is designed to help those engaged in wintertime backcountry snowshoe and nordic ski trips, or winter/spring climbs, to recognize and avoid potential avalanche terrain.  The workshop will consist of an evening discussion, trip planning, and an all day field trip.The evening session is scheduled from 7:00-9:30 pm, Thursday December 7, at the leader's home in southwest Fort Collins.  This will consist of a slide lecture/discussion, use of internet resources to evaluate snow & expected weather conditions, and trip & route planning specific to the field trip.  Specific topics will include: 

The all-day field trip will take place in the Cameron Pass area on Sunday, December 10.  The specific route will depend on snow and weather conditions, as well as the experience & skill level of the participants.  The field trip travel can involve either snowshoes or skis (nordic or AT).  Whichever equipment is used, participants must be reasonably fit and able to handle deep, ungroomed snow and moderately steep terrain (up to 20 deg).  The trip is designed to help CMC trip leaders and participants that engage in snowshoe and nordic ski outings, or winter/spring climbers, learn to distinguish between avalanche terrain and non-avalanche terrain. The dividing line between these classifications is not always that obvious to those lacking formal training, and that line can vary somewhat depending on time of year and current weather and snow conditions.  Classroom lectures help, but actual experience in or near true avalanche terrain is more instructive.  A field trip planning exercise will preceed the actual trip, and the use of guides to assess avalanche risk that use CAIC rating, slope angle, and snowfall will be practiced. On the field trip we will observe actual avalanche terrain and adjacent terrain where avalanche risk is at or near zero. Wintertime hazards in addition to avalanches will be observed.  Estimation and measurement of slope angles will be practiced, and numerous examples of potentially risky (e.g. slopes, gullies, road cuts, cornices, etc.) and avalanche-free areas will be pointed out and discussed.  Clues as to what constitutes avalanche terrain versus non-avalanche terrain will be pointed out and discussed. We will finish at some of the parking areas at and near Cameron Pass to observe and discuss various avalanche paths that portray historic occurrances and which should be avoided.  

Leader: Ward Whicker
Type: Snowshoe, Trail mileage: 6, Pace: Casual, Elevation Gain: 1600
see official page

Saturday, 12/16/2017, Lake Agnes Snowshoe

We will start at the Craigs Campground pulloff and hike uphill along the road to the cabin at the Lake Agnes "Summer Trailhead". From here we will go up the summer trail if we do not have to break trail. If no other groups have gone up the trail we will go a bit further west and follow a drainage up, breaking trail up to the lake (there is one steep section a bit below the lake).Note that you will need to have snowshoes and hiking poles with snow baskets. The wind can be very cold on the lake so you will also need face protection (mask, buff, or scarf) and something to cover your eyes (I use goggles). I also recommend gaiters to keep snow out of your boots. This is a Colorado State Park, I have a state park sticker, but other drivers will also need to have one or all riders will need to contribute to the purchase of a day pass.  

Leader: Scott Farquhar
Type: Snowshoe, Trail mileage: 6, Pace: Moderate, Elevation Gain: 1300
see official page

Saturday, 12/16/2017, Backcountry Ski Tour, Cameron Pass

Route choice will be limited by snowpack and avalanche conditions. For early season ski tours, we usually select shorter routes, mostly below treeline, on the east side of the pass. The early season snowpack usually means a relatively thin snow cover, obstacles such as downed trees, bare areas, rocks. Careful skiing at slower speeds is usually required to avoid such obstacles.For an overview of avalanche rescue:https://backcountryaccess.com/features/bca-companion-rescue-series/For an overview of the range of backcountry ski routes in the Cameron Pass area:www.frontrangeskimo.com/cameron-pass-north/www.frontrangeskimo.com/cameron-pass-seven-utes/www.frontrangeskimo.com/nokhu-crags/Be aware that much of the terrain described above is avalanche terrain and that many of the routes are advised only under low avalanche risk conditions.The backcountry tour will involve a round trip of up to 6 miles with an elevation gain of up to 2,000', usually with a portion on an established track. Be prepared to break trail for part of the route. Ascent will be moderately paced with periodic short stops. You should be prepared to ski untracked snow in variable conditions, both above and below treeline, in trees of varying density. Terrain steepness will generally be 30 degrees or less, except for short, steeper sections. You should be prepared for an outing of 5-6 hours, trailhead to trailhead. Driving to and from the trailhead adds about another 2.5 hours from the meeting location.On an established track, members of the group can ascend at a pace that is comfortable for them, as long as the fastest in the group never gets too far ahead of the slowest. When setting a new track, the group needs to stay together to communicate on route choices. It is essential for safety reasons to ski with the group in a way to maintain visual or hearing contact during all ski descents. You need to keep the leader or the leader's ski tracks in sight at all times. We will use a buddy system where you stay in close contact with another skier.Bring AT, tele, or split board gear with climbing skins. A helmet (skiing or climbing) is recommended. Avalanche gear (beacon, shovel, probe) and knowledge of how to use it, is required. Bring lunch, including a drink. Winter clothing, including wind protection, is essential.Backcountry AT/Tele ratings for this trip (see Notes below):Fitness - MODERATESkill - BLUEAvalanche training - LEVEL 1 AVALANCHE COURSE AND GEAR REQUIREDPlease read the trip description and the notes on backcountry skiing ratings below to determine if this trip is for you. This is a 'register with leader' trip.Check:NOAA weather forecast: http://www.weather.gov/bou/CAIC avalanche forecast: http://avalanche.state.co.us/Front Range forecast: http://avalanche.state.co.us/forecasts/backcountry-avalanche/front-range/before you leave for this ski tour.By signing up for this trip, participants agree to allow the trip leader to share contact information with other participants.

Leader: John Raich
Type: Ski, Trail mileage: 6, Pace: Moderate, Elevation Gain: 2000
see official page

Wednesday, 1/3/2018, Emerald Lake, RMNP

This classic winter trip includes four mountain lakes, including an iconic view of Hallet Peak. From Bear Lake, snowshoe past Nymph and Dream Lakes to Emerald Lake at base of Tyndall Gorge. If conditions are suitable, we will go off trail in places on the return back to Bear Lake. This trip is good for beginner or casual snowshoers. 3/625'. 130 mi. Suggested rideshare $13.

Leader: Paul Weber
Type: Snowshoe, Trail mileage: 3, Pace: Casual, Elevation Gain: 625
see official page

Saturday, 1/6/2018, Gould X/C ski tour

This trip is a mostly an off-trail ski tour that will  start at or near Ward's cabin in Gould, CO.  The actual route will depend on snow conditions, but will take place in the near vicinity.  This area is relatively flat, with a few gentle, rolling hills.  We will likely need to break trail, which the stronger skiers can take a part in.  The area is characterized by forest and meadows, and it offers great views of the Never Summer and Rawah Range peaks.  Moose are common in the area and often seen.  As an early-season ski tour, this is a good opportunity to practice basic kick and glide skills on cross country touring skis in a wilderness setting. Lightweight cross-country touring skis are recommended.  Participants should be reasonably fit and possess basic, intermediate skills.   At the conclusion of the trip, we will have the opportunity to warm up at Ward's cabin and enjoy some refreshments.  Direct registration with the leader is required.  On-line signups are not permitted.

Leader: Ward Whicker
Type: Ski, Trail mileage: 6, Pace: Casual, Elevation Gain: 800
see official page

Sunday, 1/21/2018, Blue Lake (RMNP) Snowshoe

We will start at the Glacier Gorge Trailhead, take the winter trial up to the intersection with the trail to Mills Lake. At Mills Lake we will contine up to Black Lake. Note that often no one has been on this 1.5 mile section of trail has not been used so the group will probalby need to take turns "breaking trail". At Black Lake we will go uphill the 0.5 miles to Blue Lake, note this section of trail will be steep and off trail. Note that I am not trying to scare members I just want to make sure folks are aware of the challenges.Now that I have gotten the mandatory "warnings" out of the way I do want to say that the views from Mills Lake, Black Lake, and Blue Lake are beautiful. It will be a difficult trip but one well worth the effort.   

Leader: Scott Farquhar
Type: Snowshoe, Trail mileage: 9.5, Pace: Moderate, Elevation Gain: 2200
see official page

Wednesday, 1/24/2018, Monthly Meeting--Ski & Snowshoe Routes Colorado Front Range

Join the Colorado Mountain Club Fort Collins Group for an enjoyable evening with local author and long-time CMC member, Alan Apt.  Alan will present a photo show of great backcountry skiing and snowshoeing trails in our area, featuring his new CMC Press book, Ski and Snowshoe Routes, Colorado's Front Range (available for discounted purchase).  You may also wish to take advantage of Wolverine Farm's cash bar as you relax and learn about backcountry gems!

Leader: Anita Wright
Type: All Other
see official page

Saturday, 2/3/2018, Montgomery Pass BCX Ski

This will be a BackCountry Cross Trip (BCX) which will go off trail down through the trees. We will not be going into areas prone to avalanche so Avalanche Beacons etc. will not be required. However, you will need to have AT or tele/BCX type skis (shaped with metal edges NOT "skinny skis"), skins, and a ski helmet. You also must be able to negotiate down a 20-25 deg slope through trees off trail in the powder (note this will be a slightly more difficult than Sawmill BCX trips we have done in the past). If you have both BCX and AT skis and are uncomfortable in trees you might want to bring the AT skis (I just use my tele skis and make "snow angel" stops when necessary). The trip will start at Mongomery Pass Trailhead. From there we will go up on trail to the cut off to the left towards the bowls. When we reach the bowls we will climb up and take at least one run down (more if the group would like). We will then head down to the east through the trees off trail towards the trailhead. At the start the trees are a bit thinned out and the slope is in the 20-25 deg range in places. Lower down the trees will become a bit thicker, but the slope is a bit less. 

Leader: Scott Farquhar
Type: Ski, Trail mileage: 6, Pace: Moderate, Elevation Gain: 1600
see official page

Saturday, 2/10/2018, Gould Mountain Snowshoe or Ski

This trip will be a snowshoe hike or ski tour from CO Highway 14 to the summit of Gould Mountain.  The terrain involves considerable uphill travel, but the inclines are mostly quite gentle.  Participants can either snowshoe or ski.  Appropriate skis would be slightly wider cross-country 3-pin or nordic norm designed for off-trail backcountry travel.  Climbing skins will be useful.  If snow conditions warrant, there will be ample opportunity to make some easy turns in gentle terrain on parts of the trip.  Snowshoers and skiers will travel together most of the time, but the skiers may separate from the group for some downhill runs if conditions warrant, then wait for the snowshoers.Most of the trip will be in coniferous forest, clear-cut areas, and some aspen groves.  In good weather, distant views of the Rawahs, Never Summers and North Park are spectacular.  This peak is seldom climbed, yet the route follows abandoned logging roads and is straightforward most of the way.  The last 0.25 mile to the summit is steeper and involves more effort. Skiers may elect to walk the last part to the summit.  Because of the open clearcuts in the area, high winds could create some discomfort and the need for face protection and goggles. There are numerous alternative destinations in the area in case of bad weather.  Participants should be somewhat experienced with off-trail travel, comfortable with some moderate adventure, and reasonably fit to climb through a bit of steeper forested terrain.      

Leader: Ward Whicker
Type: Snowshoe, Trail mileage: 6, Pace: Casual, Elevation Gain: 1400
see official page

Saturday, 2/24/2018, Zimmerman/Meadows Ski

We will set up a car shuttle so we can make a "one-way" trip. We leave a car at the Meadows Trailhead (across CO-14 from the Blue Lake Trailhead) then proceed to the Zimmerman Lake Trailhead. From here we will go uphill 500 feet on-trail to Zimmerman Lake. At the lake we will pick up the Meadows Trail and follow it down to Long Draw Rd and follow the road/trail back to the Meadows Trailhead. As we near the road there may be an opportunity to do a bit of off trail skiing (we will dicuss this with the group at this point). This is not an extreme ski trip, but note that the Meadows trail is not level (it goes up and down) AND the path is narrow in portions, NOT wide like a groomed trail.Note that the trip up to Zimmerman Lake is uphill so I recommend if you have skins that you bring them.   

Leader: Scott Farquhar
Type: Ski, Trail mileage: 6.5, Pace: Moderate, Elevation Gain: 800
see official page

Saturday, 3/3/2018, Sky Pond Snowshoe

We will start at the Glacier Gorge Trailhead and go up the winter trail to the intersection with the trail to The Loch. From here we will follow this summer trail for a bit then decide if the stream is covered adequately to take the winter route up the "canyon" or proceed on the summer trail above the canyon. After crossing The Loch we will proceed on the Sky Pond Trail towards Timberline Falls. Note often this trail has not been used so there is a good chance the group will need to take turns breaking trail. At the falls we will determine weather to proceed up the steep climb to the west of the falls on the summer trail or take a wide route further east, which is still pretty steep (in the past I have come up the steep route west of the falls and come down to the east). Once above the falls the group will climb futher up to Glass Lake the climb again up to Sky Pond. Once again there is a high probability that we will need to break trail.  

Leader: Scott Farquhar
Type: Snowshoe, Trail mileage: 8, Pace: Moderate, Elevation Gain: 2100
see official page