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San Juan Skiing: Ski the Rockies

January 18, 2013
Training for Mount Rainier’s Liberty Ridge
January 25, 2013

Ski lines as far as the eye can see. For today, this one will do!

The avalanche hazard is fickle as ever in the San Juans.  However, for those who know where to look, there is terrific alpine and tree skiing to be found. Yesterday, a few of the SJMG guides went for a tour in the Commodore Basin area near Red Mountain Pass between Silverton and Ouray, CO.

We skinned up the east ridge that forms the north edge of the basin. The ridge narrows and steepens to the point that we took our skis off for a bit and chose to boot our way up instead. Eventually we put the skis back on and skinned to the summit of point 13,510′ between Trico and Telluride peaks (not the ski area which is on Palmyra Peak).

This is why we came

We enjoyed a combination of alpine hard-pack,  powdery trees and surprisingly little breakable crust as we skied the roughly 2,500′ shot back to the road. Not to shabby for a crack o’ noon start that exemplified why the San Juan winter is so idyllic. World class terrain and convenient access create an unbeatable winter playground here.

…and it was good.