Still Fat and Fab on 4/25
This just might be the busiest (and best?) winter I’ve ever experienced in the San Juan mountains.
I’ve documented many seasonal highlights, both in words and pictures, on this blog since winter began. In addition to the 136 on-snow days noted below, it’s important to mention some additional highlights and milestones:
The first real snow storm of 18-19' took place Oct. 2nd & 3rd. On October 5th, I attended the Colorado Snow and Avalanche Workshop in Breckenridge which got me super stoked for winter. Yet, although pre-Thanksgiving turns were available, I just couldn’t tear myself away from chasing elk and deer until late November.
It seemed that every day off-piste in December, January and March were epic powder missions. Compared to my paltry 70 days of on-snow exploits in 17-18’ the riding this season has truly been all-time. But the avalanche danger and resulting incidents and accidents in our range will be remembered forever as well. The SAS accident in Senator Beck still has me reeling although I hope to publish a reflection on that event sometime this summer.
The San Juan Mountains experienced a historic, natural avalanche cycle in March. This never before witnessed, 300-year event closed Red Mountain Pass for 19 days and led to work cancellations including a three-day OPUS HUT trip, a three-day yurt trip and one day of private ski guiding. My late Nov. start combined with the loss of these seven days in March undoubtedly contributed to falling short of the 150-day mark.
But, I still managed to log 10 yurt/hut trips. Additionally, 18-19’ was the first season of operations for the Red Mountain Alpine Lodge. I've spent many, many nights. working out of this facility which has added an exciting new dimension to my winter work. Guiding out of the RMAL also got me stuck behind pass closures for a total of five days and in-trouble with CDOT more than once.
This season, I found time for additional engagements like facilitating KBYGs, participating in guest speaking events, offering numerous newspaper, radio and television interviews, publishing weekly blog posts, providing a substantial amount of content for online marketing and outreach, conducting product testing for a variety of gear companies, honoring relationships with sponsors, leading numerous trips for ski industry media and equipment manufacturers and continuing to serve on the Friends of the San Juans Board of Directors.
This winter, I continued leading custom, tactical trainings for military and law enforcement groups and volunteering for Search and Rescue. I also got involved with teaching both Industrial and Professional Avalanche training courses. But the majority of my professional, on-snow work continues to focus on ski guiding, avalanche
education and safety trainings for recreationalists .
Check out the data below to see how the math shook out:
There's most likely more on-snow adventures in store for me following my upcoming AK expedition. It definitely could be a season that extends through late June/early July up high in the San Juans. But rather than project those on-snow days now, it's time to focus up on what's next: