You could see the still fantastic snow cover on Peaks 7 and 8, with Horseshoe Bowl and Whale’s Tail still all white after 439 inches of snow, and still an 80” inch base (almost 7 feet of snow) at mid mountain on April 25, 2014.
As usual for spring skiing, we had slept in to avoid any early morning ice and crust and to give the sun time to warm up the snow. As we were approaching the top of the Kensho Chair on Peak 6, I tried to talk my friends into hiking up to the top of Peak 6. The snow looked delightful and the hike did not appear to be too long. I had no luck convincing my friends, so I took off on my own, hoping to meet up with them later.
It took me a while to get to the top of Peak 6.
It was longer and steeper, especially at the top, than it had appeared. Everybody passed this almost 65 year old man, going up, but I got lots of kudos for even trying. The last section was very steep,; I threw my skis up over the edge, and basically crawled over and on top:
The views from the top were phenomenal:
I could see 4 skiers ahead of me along the ridge, and I could see where they would be dropping off into, how steep it was, and the rocks and cliffs below them:
Here is a zoomed in version of this same photo, where you can more clearly see the 4 skiers, and the extreme terrain at the top of Peak 6. Above the furthest 2 skiers, you can see the tops of both Peak 7 and Peak 8. Following the ridge line down Peak 8, you can see the cat trail traverse from the top of the Imperial Chair that goes into Whale’s Tail and over to Peak 7. Above the closer two skiers on the Peak 6 ridge line, you can see Peaks 9 and 10 (you can see the zig zag trail that hikers take to the 4th of July Bowl on Peak 10). This picture is a very interesting perspective of all of Breckenridge’s 5 summit peaks:
Although I am a certified ski instructor and have skied extreme terrain many, many times, my fear of heights began to kick in. I was alone, and I could not see over the edge. I had planned my drop off point from below, to be in a wide open bowl, without rocks or cliffs, but I still could not see over the edge. As I worked my way closer to the edge, I could finally see over it, and familiarity returned, and I felt reassured.
Some of the next pictures of where I dropped in came out in black and white (sensitive camera phone):
With a whoop and a holler, I dropped in, immediately steering my skis hard right and up to slow down, finally slowing down enough to make the first of many wonderful turns. The snow had softened just enough that my trusty Nordica Patrons had no trouble turning in the variable conditions:
These skis are almost mini snowboards, and perform phenomenally in powder, and also in variable and corn snow conditions. You can rent these skis from our affiliate partner, Christy Sports. They have 9 separate rental locations in Breckenridge and offer a 10% discount to Summit Vacations guests.
My friends had been tracking my very slow progress up the hike as they made 3 or 4 runs off the Kensho chair. They caught up with me after I had descended down into the bowl; I had stopped where the blue, intermediate run Delirium started. In the the last several hundred yards of that run, the snow had turned choppy. The previous half mile of snow conditions in the bowl were delightful.
They told me that they saw me drop off the ridge line, and that I looked like a pro, making s-shaped turns down into the bowl. Of course that made me feel good.
We skied Delirium and the corn snow was wonderful all the way down to the base of the Independence Chair on Peak 7. We rode that up and skied the blue intermediate Claim Jumper down to the base of Peak 8, and the outdoor patio of the One Ski Hill Place for lunch.
After lunch, we cruised down the blue, intermediate run, Crescendo, and skied the corn snow bumps along skiers left. Here is a picture of me skiing down Crescendo:
We ended the day on 4 O’Clock ski run, cruising all the way down to the Lomax Placer locals trail, dropping down that into the parking lot of my chalet; we did have to walk on grass for about 20 feet, where the snow had melted
Here are my ski tips for this blog:
1. April is a great time for a ski vacations…. the rental rates are the lowest of the ski season, the snow is still great, the temperatures are warm, and the skies are usually sunny and blue.
2. If you will be skiing for 5 days or more, I recommend that you purchase a seasons pass. It will actually probably cost you less than 5 days of skiing. That will give you the opportunity to ski your normal time at Christmas or mid-winter, and then come back again in April.
Catch my next blog in May, “Skiing the Legend, A-Basin”, which will be open throughout all of May, for lift serviced skiing.