One Weekend – Two Ski Tours

A weekend of two classic ski tours: The Sourdough Traverse and the CMC Ski Trail to Lil Raven

Over this past snowy weekend, it was again time for touring.

Backcountry Nordic is that odd, “in-between” skiing that is not quite classic cross-country with its groomed terrain…but it is not the adrenaline rush, wonderful turns and quick descents of backcountry Telemark or AT skiing.

Backcountry Nordic is hiking on skis. Where it is about the traveling in an efficient fashion over the winter landscape. More elegant than snowshoeing; Nordic skiing is fun, leads to some beautiful areas and is perhaps one of my favorite activities in the backcountry.

Now, I must confess, I am jonesing to use my downhill powder skis in such classic areas as Hidden Valley, Butler Gulch or St. Vrain’s Mountain.

But this avalanche map says it all:


Red means bad. Very bad!

So I went in for the more subtle pleasures of Nordic skiing instead.

On Saturday, my friends and I did the Sourdough Traverse. A classic ski tour of ~14 miles and 2000′ gain. It is one I have not done in a couple of years..and it was time to get back.

Six of us started at the Sourdough trailhead outsider of Nederland, CO.

We made our way up the increasingly snowy trail. The fresh powder with no tracks, and sometimes obscured blazes, made the going a little slow at times.

But we soon reached Brainard recreation area and its increased trails and noticeably more people. My buddy Garlic (pictured above) and I made the joke that we forgot our lift tickets!

We ducked into the new-ish warming hut. With no lit stove, it was more of a wind break hut.

We took a quick lunch, waited for a friend, and skied out.

A little later, it was realized that one of our friends was not feeling well. We were running out of time. A decision was made where two friends would ski out on a jeep road and we’d meet them off the main road later.

Four of us made up for lost time even with the breaking of trail.

After braking trail, we made it to Peaceful Valley. The going was quicker as the trail was broken. We glided along rather nicely.

We reached my vehicle exactly seven hours after we started. Not the quickest tour, but still a good one!

The vehicle was started, the warmth felt good and we met our friends at the road crossing as planned.  The other cars were picked up and we enjoyed a welcome meal in Ned(erland).

The following day I did a solo tour that is another classic: The CMC ski trail to Lil Raven and back.  The Little Raven extension is a bit on the steep side for Nordic gear, but with the snow conditions I even manged to do some basic tele turns. A quick seven mile tour with wonderful winter conditions.

The winter season will be over before we know it.

In the mean time, I’ll try to get out as much as I can. And hope I get to use my tele skis at some point. 😉


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