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Snow Covered Mountains and Ice Covered Trees


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On 2/25/2021 at 11:18 PM, gogmorgo said:

Couple more from an easy hut trip I just did. Snowshoed in about 8 miles. Winter glamping for sure.25130563-036C-41DF-B658-9C9BC4BA39DA.jpeg.c2f0f7257047c6341487c37a52730a62.jpeg

 

 

 

Thanks gogmo for more great pics.  I love winter hiking and camping out in extreme cold.  Tell us about the current state of snow shoes.  Looks like those are improved from the clumsy things of not too long ago.

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4 hours ago, Manche757 said:

Thanks gogmo for more great pics.  I love winter hiking and camping out in extreme cold.  Tell us about the current state of snow shoes.  Looks like those are improved from the clumsy things of not too long ago.

I would hardly call the weather extreme and it’s hard to call a cabin “camping”. It dipped down to -18°C/0°f overnight but it got up to -10°C/15°F during the day. Far cry from the -40 weather we’d had a few weeks earlier.

 

As far as the snowshoes go, I’m told the modern snowshoes are pretty good, although I’ve never taken much of a liking to them. That said, I don’t own a “good” pair. 
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On the left I’ve got a modern set. They’re similar construction to a good set, but they’re essentially Walmart-grade. I bought these when I needed some in a hurry, and they’re a little small for a guy my size. It’s an aluminum tube frame, with some sort of flexible plastic “webbing”, and the strap system is similar to an early snowboard binding. There’s big aluminum cleats for traction. I haven’t used them much, pretty sure I’ve loaned them out more often.

On the right we’ve got what I think is US army surplus, but I was never 100% on that. The bindings on them aren’t as good as what the Canadian armed forces use, at any rate. As you can tell they’re a more traditional style. The frame is solid magnesium, with what looks like epoxy-coated stainless cable webbing. These are the ones I use. They’re big, heavy, don’t necessarily “float” as well because the cable cuts through the snow, but I like them better because I can throw on a heavy pack and stomp around all day, smashing over buried undergrowth, trees, logs, etc., without feeling like I might damage them. They offer slightly less traction without the big cleats the modern ones have, but if you find yourself on lake ice or a very hard-packed trail, I find the modern cleats are pretty uncomfortable to walk on. I also like the long, thin tail on the traditional style. It means you’re not actually picking up the whole snowshoe on every step, instead just dragging it along, and it’s a lot less likely to get caught on things than a rounded frame in the back. The bindings on both sets are hinged to allow for this, but it’s definitely an advantage to the traditional style. Not having to lift your feet as high or lift as much of the weight goes a long way towards endurance. I’ve done a few 20 mile days on them, but most of our party on modern snowshoes was hurting after our trip.

Truth be told, the snowshoes weren’t especially necessary for us. We hadn’t had much snow lately, and the trail is well travelled and pretty packed down. There were a few spots they were nice to have, especially on the way out – we got some serious wind the second night and there were a lot of heavily drifted sections – but most of the party either started the trip out without them or took them off partway back once we got past the worst parts. You could’ve done most of it in running shoes without difficulty. I left mine on because I didn’t feel like carrying them.

 

Here’s a couple shots from the ski hill the other day. The sun’s getting higher now, makes it easier to get shots up the valley to the south.58268DF0-F7CA-4CF7-87F3-2C2006713949.jpeg.a154ec0fdaf7057eacc40c6b11c09165.jpegC0E4FFA5-F519-4C5B-8C09-92D86C06412B.jpeg.003bab5044ed1de0b3595f1af20acb81.jpeg

These are taken in more or less the same direction, but the second one is taken from partway up the ridge in the first shot.

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New place. I’m trying to get into ski touring, just to be able to get out and explore more in the winter. This is pretty much the default beginner spot with low avalanche risk, and this trip was more about getting familiar with gear than finding good skiing, which was alright because the longer days in the sun now are making for not great snow conditions... or so I’m told.

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I’ve been house sitting for my relatives east of Colorado Springs. My view has been a little different for the past week and a half and I’m ready to go back home.

 

I assure you, there’s lots of snow on Pikes Peak right now. 
 

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I honestly prefer the mountains from further away. It’s been four years, and sure it’s cool to be on top, but I still get claustrophobic in between with them blocking out the sky. I guess I’m just a bred and born flatlander through and through.
¯\_(ツ)_/¯

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Hiked to the peak on the ski hill today. 200m or so, roughly 650’ of ascent above the highest lift. Roughly a half-hour hike, not much fun in ski boots carry 20lbs of ski, but so worth it.

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Some of those tracks are mine but I couldn’t tell you which.

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Not quite bottomless powder, I could still feel the base underneath, but yes, a foot or so of snow fell over the last couple days, and as you can tell from the small cornice up top there in the track photo, the wind pretty consistently blows it all off the top and dumps it down into that bowl. It was decent skiing for sure.

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8 minutes ago, Manche757 said:

Ever see any big critters that high up in winter?

Nothing bigger than a pine marten. I’ve had friends spot the odd wolverine. There's really not much up there above tree line, just rock. In summer I’ve seen mice, pikas, a bit further down where there’s more plant life you’ll get marmots, and whatever eats the rodents must be hanging around too, birds I guess. But up above 8000 feet or so, mostly you’ve just got lichen as a food source. Any actual plants are usually only a couple inches tall. It’s a pretty harsh climate up there, scorching in the sun and getting blown apart by wind, or most of the year $#!&ty freezing weather. 
This photo is from the end of July, we had ice pellets blowing at us intermittently, sometimes from above, sometimes below.

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This is the shaded north face of the mountain that we’re standing on, (not the same mountain I’m skiing on, but I imagine it looks similar without the snow) hence the abundant lichen. The south face with the sun on it is just bare rock. This one’s the same mountain, just on a sunnier face a bit higher up, a little over a year later in the middle of August.

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The lower slopes of the ski hill are usually closed off in the summer because they’re prime grizzly habitat, so I imagine that means deer and elk must wander up that way if there’s grizz around. The higher valleys, 6-7000’ or so, will have extensive meadows with good grazing for the handful of caribou still surviving.

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