I used to hike Greyrock Mountain a lot back in the day when my cousin went to CSU. It’s a fantastic loop, arguably one of the finest in the Front Range foothills and what Morrison is to Denver, Bear is to Boulder – Greyrock is to Fort Collins. I hadn’t been up it since 2009 at the least and figured it was time for a reunion. My toenail fungus, which I had ignored basically since college, finally got the best of me lately. After 12 straight weeks of oral Lamisil, the fungus was finally subsiding, but the nail of my right toe had become so deformed that it started to grow in to my toe (ingrown). It eventually became infected and required a minor surgical procedure. I’m usually good with novacaine, but this go around was a little different, as 2 shots of the stuff didn’t do much. Afraid he’d inject too much, the doc apologized in advance, gave me something to bite down on and basically dug out and yanked my toenail off. I hope to never experience that ever again. Anyways, the point is, I was looking for an excuse to get out of the house, but didn’t want to commit to a massive day, specially given the forecast, so Greyrock it was.
The drive up to the trailhead at 6 in the morning is notable as it was void of traffic. A nice sunrise, some Buddy Holly and not a car, cop or speed van anywhere to be seen. I thought that by missing 70, I could evade the Gaperdom that has taken over Colorado in 2015, but I would find out later that day this was not the case. Sauron’s watchful eye is keen on I-70, but it also has a tendency to span in all cardinal directions. It took me 1 hour and 34 minutes from my front door to the Greyrock trailhead and I was on the trail soon after.
The first half of the Greyrock loop is done beside a few reliable water sources that feed in to the Poudre. After crossing route 14, then a well constructed bridge, you parallel the river for a mile, before reaching a junction where you have the choice to start with either the scenic Greyrock Meadows or the most direct Greyrock Trail – it’s completely up to personal preference. I chose to take the more direct trail, but given the intense heat of the later afternoon, I would’ve done the Meadows trail first and take the more direct, shaded trail down later in the day. Side note – apparently there is “plague” in the area, transmitted by fleas or other insects. Just add that to the rapidly growing list of shit to deal with in Colorado these days (I’m not pessimistic at all!). read more
The Sunday before last a few of us motored up to Vail Pass in search of some turns, good conversation, and a potential summit of resident Gore 12er, Uneva Peak. Brian, Jason and I met up with two of Jason’s buddies, Luke and Zach, early in the morning on the pass, where we were greeted by single digit temps but an otherwise clear, sunny day. We were also joined by J and Brandon (who had come up from Avon), and although Brandon had topped out on Uneva and explored the surrounding area numerous times in the past, he was more than happy to head up there again and show us Denver gapers around.
For a Front Ranger looking to avoid the masses and find some untracked snow, the search for new areas is eternally constrained by several factors – distance from Denver, required time on I70, ease of access, and popularity are the few that immediately come to mind. Being almost as far away as Vail itself and given the cluster that I70 has morphed into in the past several years, Vail Pass doesn’t often make it onto the proverbial radar as a logical place to earn some turns these days. But for some reason, on this day, we felt compelled to drive a little further and run the risk of getting stuck in evening traffic a little higher, all in the name of trying a new area.
We each paid the $6 per person usage fee, which I also have some choice opinions about (particularly with regards to backcountry skiers as we don’t burn any oil and tend to leave no trace in an area) but I’ll save those for another time. After a brief skin up the Shrine Pass Road on the west side of the pass to warm up the legs, we skied a short run back down to the parking lot, crossed the highway, and began the skin up towards Corral Creek and the Uneva Peak cirque.
With a firm skin track already in place we made good time up through the crisp morning air and rolling terrain to the southwest of Uneva. It was good to catch up with everyone as it had sure been awhile for some of us. Spirits were high as it was also clear that we were in for some above-average skiing. The area had received more snow than any of us realized. And not just snow, but the light, cold, fluffy kind. read more
This past Friday Steve, Jason, and I managed to finagle a day off from work to take advantage of a picture perfect state-wide weather forecast. The three of us set off from the Antero trailhead with the intention of exploring the Baldwin Creek drainage to the west of Cronin Peak. If all went well we hoped to summit Mt. Mamma from there, and maybe its immediate neighbor, Boulder Mountain as well.
Residing in the southern-Sawatch 3 miles southeast of St. Elmo, bicentennial 13er Mt. Mamma does a good job of hiding from view behind several higher peaks that surround it. It most often seems to be combined with Boulder Mountain as a summer/fall ridge run, and maybe occasionally with Grizzly Mountain to the south as well. With a long road approach and gentle slopes on its south side, Mamma seemed like a logical option for a winter ski approach. Turns out it was.
Steve was toying around with an experiment of sorts on this day – it was his first time on AT skis for awhile and the first time he’d worn his ski boots. His usual blistering pace was tempered somewhat by his POMRanian setup – heavy boots clicked into a pair of five and a half pound bindings mounted on an old pair of resort skis. Not exactly ideal for a six mile skin approach. He handled it like a champ though, never complaining and still making fine time.
We broke trail beyond the road split and pulled up to the shores of Baldwin Lake just before noon. Jason was feeling a tad under the weather as well, having been at sea level all week as well as getting over a cold. We took a look at the map and contemplated just calling it a day and skiing back down to our beer and sandals, but ultimately we convinced ourselves to keep moving as the day was gorgeous and none of us had anywhere else to be.
After working our way higher up through a grove of trees we eventually caught a glimpse of Mt. Mamma and the remaining route to the summit. There appeared to be a series of snow strips connecting the summit ridge down to the bowl below, which was definitely a tad motivating. At this point Steve was really struggling with his setup and decided to throw in the towel. Steve buddy, let me know if you want help lightening that thing up at all. read more