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