2004-05-25: Winter is a sick puppy! 2004-05-29 Loveland Mountain CO 2004-05-30-Quandary Peak 2004-06-05-Mount Cameron CO 2004-06-07 Buckskin Gulch CO 2004-06-09 Mount Democrat CO 2004-06-10 : Nameless Ridge, Little Aniken Couloir 2004-06-11 Wheeler Mountain 2004-06-13 Fletcher Mountain, CO 2004-06-17: 4th of July Bowl, Breckenridge 2004-06-19: Horseshoe Mountain, CO. Back to The Matt Duffy Chronicles

2004-05-25: Winter is a sick puppy!

Movie: Hoosier2.AVI
Movie: HoosierMatt.AVI

I live on one of those dirt roads in the upper right hand corner of this map. You may recall a post I made about this mountain on May 5th - it's the one on which I can see my tracks from the end of the driveway.

I hope you've opened that Topozone map in a seperate window because I'll refer to it several times. The run I chose for this day(May 25th) starts at about the base of the "I" in Summit County, above Crystal Lake. It's pretty steep for about 650 vertical feet before mellowing onto the apron for another 200' or so.

Winter and I walked from the Hoosier Pass Rest Area along the road leading to Magnolia Mine. From there it was a short, easy skin up the ridgeline. Somewhere along the way, we caught up with two random guys who were going for the same line - Victor and John who live in Breckenridge.

They descended it first, taking videos of each other while I held on to the harness of one very anxious dog. Around the first corner they disapeared rather quickly and so I waited until I could see them re-appear far below on the apron.

There was a small cornice to drop at the top, prompting me to throw a snowball for Winter to chase and stay out of my way. It landed above the line next to mine, which wound up having a factor in Winter's choice of descent. That line dead-ended above a huge cliff band, or so it looked.

When I dropped my little cornice, I was later told by my two new friends that Winter dropped a bigger one, catching about 5 feet of air. Then she proceeded down the parallel, seemingly dead ending line toward those cliffs...

Here's a shot that John took looking up from the bottom with Winter's line marked in red. Mine is the obvious one to lookers left(northstarline1.jpg)

But to back up a bit, here's a quick clip that Victor shot of John descending into the upper reaches: (Hoosier2.AVI)

A nice clip of some good turns and some heavy, wet sloughing. The following is a clip of me skiing the couloir and if you watch a 2nd time and pay close attention, you'll see Winter as a roaming black dot running down over the rocks the red line indicates; then re-appearing on the snow below them. (HoosierMatt.AVI)

The end of the clip shows her approaching the cliff band; what you don't see is what she did next. She found a line through them that was less than 2 feet wide, curving like a sickle through those rocks and it had to be 20 degrees steeper than the line that I skied.

When I reached John and Victor on the flats, they told me something that made my heart sink. "Dude, your dog just ran to the top of that cliff band and disapeared!" Keep in mind that from the angle were were looking, there was no apparant way down other than to tumble over the cliff.

I yelled to her with my heavy heart, just about ready to start running back to the base of the cliffs to find her. Then, what seemed to be a miracle happened. She popped out of nowhere in a dead sprint coming straight at us below those dark colored rocks. I was ecstatic. We cheered her on, yelled "good dog, GOOD DOG!" as she aproached with that giant pink tongue hanging out and that content doggie smile she so often wears. She had just nailed a line too sick for any human to consider.

As we walked down to Crystal Lake, where Winter went swimming to cool herself off, we got a view of that narrow, curving ribbon of snow through the cliffs and finally understood how she survived. But it was more than survival; it was living at a level I couldn't and still can't comprehend. How TF did she do that? You saw the snow sloughing down on John in a much wider path. What she dealt with and nailed must have been much, much more serious sliding. My guess is she rode down a wave of heavy wet snow, curving around a corner, possibly banging against the side of the rocks. SICK!!!

I told the tale when I got home, but no words were quite adequate enough. I hope that these have been, because I think back now and still am totally amazed. Winter has come quite a long way since the scared little girl I saw at Berthoud Pass last year above a line that pales in comparison.

From Crystal Lake, we shuffled along the snow covered, flat road back to the Bronco parked atop Hoosier Pass. Including the drive to and from home, the entire loop took 2.5 hours. A pretty exciting thing to have so close to the front door.

Last modified June 22 2004 04:24 PM

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