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Wolf Creek backcountry

 
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ryangarnett



Joined: 05 Nov 2007
Posts: 6
Location: Colorado Springs, CO

PostPosted: Mon Mar 10, 2008 12:29 pm    Post subject: Wolf Creek backcountry Reply with quote

Hey all,

I was wondering if anyone would be able to point me to guide books, maps or websites of some backcountry skiing around Wolf Creek Pass. I am hoping to go this weekend and I was wondering about some of the areas and the trailhead areas.

Thanks,

Ryan
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FCBrian



Joined: 03 Sep 2006
Posts: 239
Location: The Fort

PostPosted: Mon Mar 10, 2008 12:37 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Ry_guy? You're well versed in Wolf Creek guidebooks. Laughing

Ryangarrett, search the forum for "lame vibe."

b
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ryangarnett



Joined: 05 Nov 2007
Posts: 6
Location: Colorado Springs, CO

PostPosted: Mon Mar 10, 2008 12:41 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hey Giggidy Giggidy....

I think you may have the wrong Ryan. I do get called Ry_Guy and I did live in the Fort for a while....but its not me.....

Thanks for the search stuff
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FCBrian



Joined: 03 Sep 2006
Posts: 239
Location: The Fort

PostPosted: Mon Mar 10, 2008 12:44 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Nope, not you. Ry_guy is someone else on this forum. He'll probably fill you in on Wolf Creek bc skiing.
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ryangarnett



Joined: 05 Nov 2007
Posts: 6
Location: Colorado Springs, CO

PostPosted: Mon Mar 10, 2008 12:59 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks FCBrian....
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Ry_Guy



Joined: 17 Oct 2006
Posts: 176
Location: Fort Collins

PostPosted: Mon Mar 10, 2008 1:53 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Below is some information I copied off the web last year.

Use at your own risk...

See this for further details: http://www.telemarktalk.com/phpBB/viewtopic.php?t=32925&highlight=

Ry





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Description
Wolf Creek Pass is known for it's deep, stable snowpack. In most seasons it has double or triple the snowpack of the northern or central Colorado mountains, and they often have a 50-60 inch base by Thanksgiving. Wolf Creek Pass unique in Colorado in that the best skiing is in the trees. Normally, the forests in Colorado below timberline are too thick to ski through. But at Wolf Creek Pass, in the Rio Grande National Forest, the US Forest service implemented a tree harvesting program, affectionately called the STEP program by local skiers-Selective Telemark Enhancement Program. Instead of clear cutting, the Forest Service removed enough trees to "thin" the forest. To the joy of skiers, the thinning created perfect glade skiing. From a distance, the forests look like any other Colorado forests: thick and impenetrable. But up close and on skis, you can see that these forests are perfect for skiing. Just enough trees to keep the sun and wind out and plenty of space to initiate turns.

Wolf Creek Powder, Photo by Gordon Banks
Another unique feature of Wolf Creek is that most of the runs start from ridges that run northeast. As a result, you can find excellent runs down the north-facing slopes of these ridges. The north-facing slopes on the ridges are refrigerated snow magnets. Very little sun hits these slopes between November and February, and they are protected from the prevailing winds. The trick to skiing these ridges is to ski down the ridge until you see a good line down the north side and then ski it to the drainage below. Once you hit the drainage, you make a flat traverse back to the ridge and repeat the process. The maps below show an example of routes that drop into the drainage and then traverse back to the ridge. Don't worry about following these routes exactly. There are dozens of possibilities on all the ridges. You will have to determine for yourself which lines you like the best. And keep in mind that the south faces of these ridges can be good if you get to them before the sun or warm temperatures create a crust.

Finally, there are a couple methods of doing these runs. One method involves skiing from the top of the run all the way down to the exit onto highway 160 (set a shuttle car or hitch hike to get back to your car at the Pass). The other method involves yo yo skiing the top sections of the runs and then skiing back out the Lobo Overlook road to your car at the top of the Pass.

Note - The north side of Wolf Creek Pass is off-limit to snowmobiles according to a voluntary agreement between skiers, snowmobilers, and the Forest Service; the snowmobiles MUST stay on the Lobo Overlook road. If you see snowmobiles, or snowmobile tracks anywhere other than the road, please file a Backcountry Experience Report Document (BERD) on the BSA web site. If you have a digital camera, please take pictures of the snowmobiles or snowmobile tracks:

http://backcourntyalliance.org/act/berd/berd.php

Getting There
From South Fork or Pagosa Springs, take HWY 160 to the top of Wolf Creek Pass and look for a parking lot on the north side of the road. If this lot is full, you can park in the lot on the pass summit about 1/4 mile to the west on the south side of the road.

Route Directions

Route 1: Lobo Overlook

The Lobo Overlook slopes are moderate, open slopes and a great place to practice your downhill turns. Plus, you can combine this tour with the Powerline tour for an all day outing.

From the Wolf Creek Pass parking lot, the route follows a drainage north-east up to a saddle. This unmarked trail is usually broken, but if not, follow the right side of the drainage. When the trail reaches the road, turn left and follow the road for about a quarter mile until you come to a powerline going up and left (north-west). Follow the powerline up until the slopes open up and then take the easiest way to the top. From the top, ski down the direction you came up. There are many variations depending on the steepness you want. See Wolf Creek North Side Map for details.

Route 2: Powerline

The Powerline run is a perfect introduction to this wonderful area. The route follows a powerline cut starting on an unnamed peak (11,503') north-west of the Radio Tower (11,364') on the north side of the pass. Don't let the powerline feature turn you off to this amazing descent. After a gradual 600' climb, the powerline drops 1,800' back to highway 161 on the east side of Wolf Creek Pass. This is a great tour for beginning skiers because the slope angle is moderate and the powerline cut is, for the most part, free of trees.

Follow the same approach as Lobo Overlook. When the trail reaches the road, it crosses it and heads east, south east (140 degrees) up to the unnamed peak. If the trail is not broken, follow the trail shown on the map. If the trail is broken, follow it even if it doesn't exactly follow the trail shown on the map. There are many variations. When you reach the top of the peak, you will see the powerline. It's all downhill from here. Follow the powerline down to the north-east. Warning: this run follows moderate terrain; if you find yourself in extremely steep terrain, you went the wrong way on the powerline. If this is your fist time, you might want to stick close to the powerline, but you will see that the fall line is sometimes better to the right or left of the powerline. See Wolf Creek North Side Map for details.


Route 3: Powerline Ridge

As I said, the Powerline is a good route to start on because once you find the powerline at the top, you just follow it to the bottom and the exit on highway 160. But you will find much better fall lines by staying on the powerline ridge until you are at the 11,000' level and then look for ski lines to the north. There are endless possibilities. Pick a ski line, ski it to the drainage, and then traverse back to the ridge and repeat the process.
Follow the same approach as Lobo Overlook. When the trail reaches the road, it crosses it and heads east, south east (140 degrees) up to the unnamed peak. If the trail is not broken, follow the trail shown on the map. If the trail is broken, follow it even if it doesn't exactly follow the trail shown on the map. There are many variations. When you reach the top of the peak, you will see the powerline.

Ski down the powerline about 300' and then traverse right until you reach the powerline ridge. This is easier said than done. The tree are very thick in this area and it's easy to get disoriented. Unless you have the route in a GPS, it will probably take some trial and error to find the ridge. In any case, ski down the north side of the ridge. When you hit the drainage, traverse back to the ridge and find another line. At about the 10,000' level, the slope angle becomes less steep and it's more efficient at that point the ski to the drainage and then out the drainage to the highway.

Route 4: The Mainline

The Mainline is very similar to the Powerline Ridge and The Plunge Ridge, except that it has lower-angle slopes on the north side. This makes it a great place for intermediate skiers, or for situations when the surface snow is fast. This is a GREAT route with runs that seem to go on forever as you slalom between perfectly-spaced trees. Note that if the new snow is deeper than 12 inches or is slow, the routes off this ridge are too low angle to get moving.

Follow the same approach as Lobo Overlook. When the trail reaches the road, it crosses it and heads east, south east (140 degrees) up to the unnamed peak. If the trail is not broken, follow the trail shown on the map. If the trail is broken, follow it even if it doesn't exactly follow the trail shown on the map. There are many variations. When you reach the top of the peak, you will see the powerline.

From the powerline at the top, ski northeast, just to the north of the avalanche bowl the drops to the snow shed on highway 160. You are aiming for one ridge to the skier's right of the powerline ridge. The Mainline ridge is very indistinct at the top and is heavily forested, so it is very difficult to determine if you are on it. Once you are on the ridge, stick to the north side for the best snow.

Route 5: The Plunge

The Plunge is a steeper version of the Powerline Ridge. It starts out fairly gentle at the top, around 25 degrees. But after 200 or 300 feet, it begins to steepen. The farther you go into the drainage, the steeper is gets. I think there are some sections that are between 35-40 degrees. Fortunately, the trees and the deadfall seem to hold the snow in place. I have never seen a significant slide in here. I have, however, see a few small slides, one that carried a skier down about 50 feet.

From the Wolf Creek Pass parking lot, the route follows a drainage north-east up to a saddle. This unmarked trail is usually broken, but if not, follow the right side of the drainage. When the trail reaches the road, turn left and follow the road for about three quarters of a mile, or until you are below the big, open bowl below the Lobo Overlook. From here, there are many options to ski down. See Wolf Creek North Side Map for details.

Route 6: Secret Creek AKA Wounded Knee

I first skied this route in a raging snow storm and thought it was the best ski run I had ever done. I intended to ski it at least once more that day, but unfortunately, my wife tore her ACL when she hooked her ski on a sapling, about 20 feet above the highway.

Secret Creek is a combination of a tour and some great downhill skiing. There are some very nice, low angle glades through a area that was once burned. When I do this route, I usually make it an all day outing and make time to do several laps on the beautiful, low-angle, gladed slopes near the top of peak 11,567 before doing the final descent to highway 160.

From the Wolf Creek Pass parking lot, the route follows a drainage north-east up to a saddle. This unmarked trail is usually broken, but if not, follow the right side of the drainage. When the trail reaches the road, turn left and follow the road for about a mile. When you are due south of peak 11,567, follow the ridge down to the saddle between Lobo Overlook and Peak 11,567. Climb up the south west slopes of Peak 11, 567. From the top of Peak 11, 567, ski northeast until you can see the glades and burned area below. Once you are at the bottom of the low-angle glades, follow the steep ridge for about 100 yards or until you see a good ski line below. Like all other Wolf Creek routes described here, ski to the drainage and then make a flat traverse back to the ridge. At around the 9,950' level, you will see a logging road. Follow this road south for approximately a half mile, until you gain the next ridge to the south. The reason for this traverse is that the exit drainage below the descent ridge is extremely narrow and difficult to negotiate. See Wolf Creek North Side
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miker



Joined: 16 Nov 2006
Posts: 20

PostPosted: Tue Mar 11, 2008 1:24 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

What about The Hourglass?
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