One good turn deserves another – Berthoud Pass Snowboarding part II

What would Jesus ride? Snowboard shrine atop Hell's Half Acre, Berthoud Pass

I pride myself on catching any resort powder within two hours of Boulder so was mighty conflicted when I saw Vail called 9” in 24, 14” in 48 on Sunday morning as I also pride myself on not getting trapped in weekend traffic on I-70. As anyone who has spent 5 hours getting home on a Sunday night can testify, I-70 can really ruin the buzz of a good powder day. So, since I was going solo and it was already snowing in Boulder further complicating the drive, I reluctantly decided to pass. However, I was now totally infected with the powder bug and thus by Monday had to go get some tracks and knowing the resorts would be long cut up I once again headed up to Berthoud Pass for some fresh turns.

Boot pack and skin trail up the east side of Berthoud Pass - always well worth the effort

Two weeks ago I posted a blog about a leisurely tour I took of Berthoud but since this time the majority of snow had fallen on Saturday and Monday was a national holiday, I knew the pickings would be slimmer and would require a lot more effort to find untracked. Sure enough, on the drive up I could see that Floral Park had been heavily tracked particularly where it opens up skier’s far left. Still it seemed worth a shot and decided to hike way out but cut back skier’s right into the thicker trees to get some freshies. It worked like a charm at the top, got that sweet powder feeling going and thus didn’t mind when I ran into a lot more tracks down low.  Got a ride fairly quickly and decided to head to my favorite Berthoud area – Hell’s Half acre.

Pick a chute, any chute...Hell's Half Acre, Berthoud Pass

Hell’s has everything I want in a ski area – gladed trees, steep chutes and lots of powder that is constantly being refreshed by the wind. I usually head to North and Sentinel chutes first as the the Fingers, Choke and Knuckle need a ton of snow to be rideable and now that no one is bombing them are incredibly avalanche prone. I generally pass on the Mines as well because besides being another avalanche trap (it seems like there’s a fatality there every couple of years) it requires a several mile (7?) traverse back to the highway which is not much fun on a snowboard. Amazingly enough, there were still some cleans lines left in the chutes particularly on the edges which resulted in a major face shot that had me quickly searching my memory for where exactly the trees below me were positioned.

What lies over that edge? Only the shadow knows...

I had such a good time on the first run that I had to go back for more and after getting an immediate ride I was hiking back up the trail in no time. While the parking lot may get busy and there seem to be a lot of folks heading out, once you get to the top, there’s rarely anyone around and you can take your time getting ready and psyched for your next run. And on my next run I definitely needed to be psyched because I found a great untracked line through the trees and rocks between the chutes which had little room for error and required a total commitment and definitely got the blood pumping – what a rush! This of course lead to another hike but sadly the third time was not the charm as this time I mostly found rocks covered with a little snow (which reminded me of a bumper sticker I used to see that read “Give Blood – Ski Berthoud) so ended up doing some extra trees at the bottom to get my moneys worth and then hiking up back to the road which is always an option. All in all, another fine day at Berthoud and enough powder to keep the jones at bay till the next snowstorm…

Leave a Reply