The third time’s the charm – Berthoud Pass strikes again

Lifts? We don't need no stinking lifts...knee deep in the 80's at Berthoud Pass, Colorado

There were a lot of surprised front range skiers and snowboarders yesterday because despite all the weather reports calling for a few inches tops, Monday mornings ski totals included 11″ at Loveland and 16″ at Winter Park. According to the CAIC’s morning avalanche report, Berthoud Pass received 5″ in one hour Sunday night and 12″ in three – that’s some serious snow coming down which no one anticipated. I, unfortunately, did not discover this until it was too late to get to either resort but knowing there would be plenty left at Berthoud on Tuesday helped ease the pain.

First one to the road wins - looking down the 90's, Berthoud Pass

Because of all the new snow, the CAIC  issued a avalanche warning for Monday which means natural and human triggered slides slides are likely – not the kind of day I want to be out on the pass. By Tuesday, they had lowered it to considerable which in layman terms means you can go out there but be really, really careful. Thus on the ride up I was very surprised to see tracks way out in Floral Park which is not only steep and exposed but it also has heating/freezing issues as it is southern facing. We immediately decided to pass on that and later talked to a very shaken snowboarder in the parking lot who got caught in a slide out there and was lucky to escape with only some ripped pants and some very bad memories.

The crappy view on the way up to Hell's Half Acre, Berthoud Pass

We decide to opt for the Hanging Meadow in Hell’s Half Acre which is lower angled and treed thus making for a less risky proposition. The snow was beautiful – deep and relatively light, making for some fabulous riding. While there had been plenty of visitors before us, there were still huge swaths of untracked which we took immediate advantage of hooting and hollering down to the road. We got a ride as soon as we hit the road and got dropped off at the ditch trail so we could do some Current Creek runs.

Frank enjoying the fruits of his labor on Vigilante, Berthoud Pass

The nice thing about the ditch trail is that after the tough hike up to Hell’s, the walk out to the Current Creek runs is quite leisurely and the rewards still plentiful. We started with a 90’s, which is pretty much a straight shot to the road with the top full of sweet deep untracked and the bottom still super soft if no longer pristine. It was so good that we immediately did another but this time moved over to the 80’s which had yet to be explored. I started getting flashbacks to the days when Berthoud had lifts and this was one of my favorite late day runs. There are some large rocks that sit atop the run (see first photo in this post) and although I passed for the most part today because of some avy concerns, I could see that the snow cover was getting to the point where some big fun could be had soon.

Not bad for 2:30 in the afternoon - Vigilante, Berthoud Pass

After a quick snack in the parking lot, it was back to the Hanging Meadow followed by another Current Creek. Both were fabulous and could have easily provided several more powder laden runs had we the time. As it was we felt blessed to have been out there at all – did I mention it was a warm, windless, bluebird day and even though the parking lot was full in the morning, by mid afternoon it was back to just a few happy campers. This was my third trip to Berthoud in the last month and each one has been better than the last so while I don’t see how it could get any better, I’m looking forward to trying to prove myself wrong…

One Response to “The third time’s the charm – Berthoud Pass strikes again”

  • Geoffrey Gilbert Says:

    Your post today brings to mind this song. Bluebird, bluebird, through my window. Bluebird, bluebird, through my window. Bluebird, bluebird, through my window . Oh, brother, aren’t you tired?

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