Tuesday, April 5, 2011


Saturday opened up to blue skies and very mild temperatures, promising to be a day of classic spring skiing in the Rockies. Some of us were more ambitious and went straight for the summit of Homestake Peak, which fills the view from the deck of the hut. The chosen approach was to reach the ridge that extends east from the peak and skin up its long inclined run to the 13,209' summit. By the time we climbed above timberline, the wind was howling once again in advance of a weather system that was due to dump snow that evening. Those that reached the top stopped about 100' short of the summit, within very easy reach. Everyone hesitated, fearful that the hurricane force wind could turn a simple mistake into a painful slide down a 1000' slope studded with rocks protruding from the snow. Not worth the risk.

The view from up top was absolutely stunning with mountain ranges all around. The Elk Range with the top of Snowmass ski area visible. The Sawatch and Collegiate Peak Ranges to the south. The Sangre De Cristo and Mosquito Range to the southeast. The Ten Mile Range due east and the Goer Rang to the northeast. The most distant peaks being about 70 miles away. All covered in lovely snow!

I had trouble taking the climbing skins off the skis, afraid that any loose piece of equipment would be quickly swept away. But once they were off and I was turned around, it was a sweet ride back down to timberline, with carveable windblown snow covering the broad ridge line down the peak. At lower elevations the sun's warmth had softened the crusts, also making for some fine turning, being careful not to be flipped when conditions changed in the shadows.

Back to the hut for a nap. Heavy, gray snow clouds began filling the sky, making for interesting lighting. Dinner, more drinking and some fireworks I had brought along capped off the evening. Once everyone began to head upstairs for the night, I found my way outdoors onto the deck for another night of music. Snow had begun to drop out of the sky during my hour+ time outside.

By Sunday morning everything outdoors was covered in at least 4 inches of snow and it was still coming down hard and steady. The landscape was shrouded in a gray fog of falling snow. About 6 inches had fallen by the time we departed from the hut for the return trip to the vehicles. Breakfast was eaten, the hut was cleaned up, and all equipment was stuffed into our backpacks, ready for the ride down. It was a pleasure carving turns in the wet powder on the gentle slope leading down the mountain.

Back on the road, the snow still coming down heavy. Conditions worsened as I drove north over Fremont Pass. Near the Frisco exit I learned that the severe winter weather had closed the highway before the tunnel, blocking access back to Denver. The winter storm warning was scheduled to go until late that evening, effectively trapping me on this side of the Continental Divide. I found the next emergency turnoff and crossed the highway to return to Fremont Pass. I returned home via Leadville, Buena Vista and Colorado Springs, pulling into the driveway shortly after 4 PM. Back to this other reality.

My Saturday evening was spent listening to Echo & The Bunnymen perform at the Peppermint Lounge in NYC on July 24, 1982. An excellent quality audience recording. You could pick up bits and pieces of the conversations in the surrounding audience. As is the case on many live recordings and having heard it myself while attending live shows, Ian speaks in his heavy Liverpool accent and it's followed by puzzled questions of "What?" or "I didn't understand a word he said!" The band sounds great and Ian's voice is smooth as silk. Loved it! A classic show from one of the best times during their long career as a band.

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