Winter in the park 2015

Note: I took mainly portrait photos for various reasons. I used some of Andrew’s more camp-focused photos to tell the story. All my photos can be found at the end of the trip report.

As in years past, I against assisted Andrew Skurka with guiding a winter fundamentals trip. 

A chance to instruct on the basics of winter ski travel, hydration, staying warm and dry and other aspects of winter backpacking that are a bit more complex and/or intense versus traditional three-season backpacking.

More so than the past trips, this trip had some true winter conditions. Cold and clear one night with temps down to -5F…and three-four inches of fresh snow the last day.

A true chance to experience not only the more difficult conditions of winter backpacking, but also to see the beauty that can be found in the winter  backcountry as well.

As with previous years, the trip started with some “classroom” work at the trailhead. My contribution was explaining ski, bindings and boot types, the trade-offs of such and other concepts such as waxable vs wax-less skis.

Photo courtesy of Andrew Skurka

After the trailhead lecture,  it was time to get some ski practice in on the flat and open Bear Lake.

Moving on two thin planks, with a free heel no less, is a concept new to many people and is not necessarily intuitive. The gentle area allowed the basics to be understood at least a little bit.

But it was time to leave the trailhead area and start up the single track.

We soon created a knob and started our first real descent in the ample powder.

Very forgiving for any new skiers.

A little ways later, we made our first camp for the night. The skies were clear. The temperatures we cold. It was a true winter backpacking experience.

Group snow kitchen. Photo courtesy of Andrew Skurka.

The temperatures would go down to -5F that night. I think the group, overall, was quite pleased how it was possible to thrive in the low temperatures.

The following day was brilliantly sunny with plenty of eye candy at Bierstadt Lake.

A great place to warm up in the sun…and to practice Map and Compass 101.

After this lesson, it was time to head to our second camp.

The gray skies above promised both oncoming snow and a warmer night.

Photo courtesy of Andrew Skurka.

“Warmer” does not mean warm however. 🙂

The morning was still cold..but a hot breakfast warmed us up in many ways.

Photo courtesy of Andrew Skurka.

After breakfast we skied into the cold morning.

Photo courtesy of Andrew Skurka.


We soon reached a high point where it would be downhill back to the trailhead.

The local population greeted us on the way to the top.

At the top, some scraping of skis was done before we made out final descent.

A faster descent was made back to Bear Lake.

Photo courtesy of Andrew Skurka.

Back at the trailhead, we made it back to the cars. Piled in and enjoyed a post-trip repast at the always popular Oskar Blues.

Photo courtesy of Andrew Skurka.

All in all, a good trip. Based on the feedback, I think our clients felt the same way.

Winter is beautiful.  It was a treat to show people new to the winter backcountry just how enchanting Colorado in winter can be.

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