“Mud Season” the dreaded time of year where many people hang up the ski gear, and spend a couple weeks at lower elevations waiting for the higher elevations to dry out. As backcountry skiers, this is one of our favorite times of the year- the snow pack stabilizes and steeper lines higher in the mountains are ripe to be skied.
On a whim, we decided it was the perfect weekend for a snow camping adventure. The weather looked warm with just a slight chance for thunderstorms. So we rallied, packed quickly, and set off for our first snow camping experience.
Making our way from the dry valley floor we finally hit the snow with the warm spring sun beating down on us. Clipping into our skis is familiar and comfortable as we glide along, snow crunching beneath our skins. As we make our way out of the forest just to the edge of tree line the impressive peaks emerge with endless ski decent options, and no one else around for miles. We picked a camp spot just below the cirque we intended to ski and dug out a flat spot for the tent.
After setting up the tent, stoke levels were very high. We decided to ski a short lap below our tent before we ran out of light for the evening. Cruising down wide-open glades on top of great corn snow was a fantastic reward for a long day with heavy packs.
We ate dinner and watched the sunset over the Continental Divide while scoping lines for the next day. Temperatures stayed relatively mild and we were able to stay comfortable outside our tent even after the sun went down. As we entered the tent, perfect weather turned bad as the wind started howling. It was relentless throughout the night. The wind, combined with a camp at 11,200 feet, resulted in a restless night.
Slowly, we made our way out of the tent to brave the wind in the morning. We set off up the cirque in search of an exciting line to ski. Clouds overhead kept the snow from turning sloppy on us, so we opted to shoot for the impressive couloir that looms over you as soon as you enter the valley. A mix of skinning and boot packing found us sitting on top of the line as the sun just started to pop out of the clouds making for excellent conditions. Smooth, fast, and fun skiing was had down the couloir, and back to camp for the end of an epic day.
We returned to camp, celebrated with a beer gazing back towards our line, and packed up camp as thunder, lightning, wind, and snow threatened above. What an incredible weekend jam packed with fun in such a short amount of time.