suggestions for spring ski routes with 6 and 10 year old

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Erik2
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suggestions for spring ski routes with 6 and 10 year old

Post by Erik2 » Mon Apr 25, 2016 8:02 pm

Apologies in advance if this duplicates earlier discussions - I searched and didn't see anything obvious, but could easily have missed a thread.

I just spent an evening exploring options for summer hikes with our 6 and 10 year old boys by checking out the trip reports, and the reports that have them most fired up are clearly the ones that include ski descents. In addition to Bill M ("wait, he runs this site for free just to be nice?"), their heroes now include folks like benners, lordhelmut, bergsteigen, etc. I told them I didn't think we were quite ready for any winter 14ers just yet, but that I'd look into some shorter spring skiing options that we might be able to try. So I'm posting to see if any of you have suggestions for good places to go for a first taste of "outside the resort" skiing.

Just to give you a sense what I'm hoping to find: I don't want to get in over our heads (or have to answer to their mom) by taking them down something that's beyond their skill set, so we're looking for routes that most of you would probably call "boring as he**". The 6 year old can do most blue and easy black runs at the resorts, but has only skiied bumps and powder a few times. The 10 year old is solid on everything up to single blacks at the resorts (Winter Park, Eldora, and A Basin mostly) and getting good in the trees, so I'm a bit less worried about him getting in over his head as long as we don't inadvertently get on anything super steep or get forced to huck any cliffs. And hopefully it goes without saying that we're not planning to hit any lines that are steep enough to be an avalanche risk in late season (which may possibly be a problem with the Loveland Pass suggestion below? Honestly not sure...)

And in terms of hiking to a route: they've both done several 14ers in summer and are strong kids, but I think a full peak climb with winter gear and skis is going to be too much for this year (or maybe just too much for their dad...). So any spots that happen to be fairly close to a road or at the end of a relatively short climb may be most realistic (we climbed 1000 vertical feet or so up the east side of Berthoud Pass on the way back from Winter Park and they loved it, although they complained that the skiing was "too slow")

Here's a list of a few spots I've been thinking about trying -

-west side of Berthoud Pass where it gets a little steeper than the "slow" east side (but just skiing back to the pass, not down the chutes on the north side, etc.)
-the old runs at (closed) Hidden Valley ski area in RMNP, or other snowfields close to Trail Ridge
-west from Loveland Pass down to US 6 (or possibly up the east side toward Grizzly, etc. with the older one)
-the easy snowslope that starts just below the saddle north of Audobon in IPW

Any comments (either positive or negative definitely helpful) about these would be much appreciated, along with any suggestions for others that we should consider. Thanks for any input!

Erik
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Re: suggestions for spring ski routes with 6 and 10 year old

Post by lodgling » Mon Apr 25, 2016 8:19 pm

Sounds like you have some good ideas already. Depending upon how the weather goes here for the next few weeks, you might have fun climbing and skiing at MJ after it closes. Not really the same experience as summiting something, but if they have favorite runs there, it can be fun to have the whole place to yourself. Also not sure about the legality of it.
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Re: suggestions for spring ski routes with 6 and 10 year old

Post by AlexeyD » Mon Apr 25, 2016 9:58 pm

Erik2 wrote:-the easy snowslope that starts just below the saddle north of Audobon in IPW
While I would agree with the characterization of this slope as "easy", I'm not sure I'd recommend it given the sheer effort (and, sometimes, a bit of avalanche hazard) involved getting to it. You mentioned "close the highway"...with the winter closure in effect, this is more like 4-5 miles from the highway with some heinous postholing likely between you and your objective.

As far as the IPW goes, Caribou Mine Site is the best option I can think of given what you're looking for. Otherwise, besides the passes you already mentioned, the ski hill at Hoosier Pass could be another fun (albeit short) option. Butler Gulch is also nice, but requires a couple miles of hiking/skinning/snowshoeing to get in.

Out of curiosity - how did your kids climb up? Do they actually have an AT setup, or did they boot/snowshoe up?
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Re: suggestions for spring ski routes with 6 and 10 year old

Post by brett.t.burch » Mon Apr 25, 2016 10:12 pm

lodgling wrote:you might have fun climbing and skiing at MJ after it closes... Also not sure about the legality of it.
Sadly this is not allowed.
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Re: suggestions for spring ski routes with 6 and 10 year old

Post by Dave B » Tue Apr 26, 2016 6:05 am

That's awesome that your young kids are interested in hiking for turns, and even better that you want to foster their spirit.

There are a lot of options to consider but I'll put my vote in for heading up Trail Ridge Road after it opens (typically on Memorial Day - If you're willing to wait) and ski some of the lines on Sundance Mountain. I think this is a great option because (1) you can gain an actual summit just 30 min after leaving the car (2) if you stick to the lines drawn below there will be zero avy concerns (3) there is no need to get up early as you can drive within .10 mile of a summit (4) RMNP and Trail Ridge Road offer some of the finest views in the Front Range and make for a true mountaineering experience and (5) there are multiple aspects to ski and explore all that give you views into different parts of the park.
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Re: suggestions for spring ski routes with 6 and 10 year old

Post by bergsteigen » Tue Apr 26, 2016 8:38 am

It might be good to start with something familiar, to see how they do. You can motivate them with, if you do well on this, maybe we can do something bigger.

Last year I skinned up Eldora the weekend after it closed. Skied down Corona, back up Corona, then over to Muleshoe, then up C and back. 7.81 mi and 3,953'. Obviously you can do only one lap. Or you can even just ski the front side. This way they can get a taste of what they can do, how to pace themselves, slightly more natural conditions (since it's been closed for a little while now) and they know the terrain. And it's close to home.

As for what are "easy peaks" to aspire to, here's a good beginner list:
Mt Sherman - South Face - D2
Mt Bross - S Gully - D3
Mt Bross - Dolly Varden - D2
Red Mountain C - North Ridge - D3
Golden Bear - NE Face - D3
Lackawanna - South Gully - D3
James Peak - East Face - D2
Mt Helen - East Face - D3
St Vrain Mtn - E Face - D2

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Re: suggestions for spring ski routes with 6 and 10 year old

Post by gspup » Tue Apr 26, 2016 8:50 am

In my humble opinion, start on the east/easy side of Berthoud. One of the hardest thing about skiing out of bounds is the variable conditions.
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Re: suggestions for spring ski routes with 6 and 10 year old

Post by SkaredShtles » Tue Apr 26, 2016 2:16 pm

gspup wrote: One of the hardest thing about skiing out of bounds is the variable conditions.
This. Backcountry snow in Colorado is notoriously fickle and generally a PITA to ski.
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Re: suggestions for spring ski routes with 6 and 10 year old

Post by pfiore1 » Thu Apr 28, 2016 6:09 pm

As per a previous post, how do the kiddos plan on ascending? Is dad going to carry most of their gear? One "backcountry" route you may consider that doesn't involve much climbing or steep descents would be the summit of Loveland Pass, you and the kids could ski down to the bottom where it hits the road then shuttle or hitchhike back up.

Another option that I love after ski areas close their lease with the USFS, is skin up a ski area and ski down. It's not a backcountry peak, but it will give you an idea as to how well they handle "backcountry" skiing with open runs. I always skin up Monarch after they close, they seem to get hammered with snow right after they close. You can skin up the slopes and ski a ski area alone. And a previous post mentioned MJ being illegal due to trespassing. I have been doing Monarch after they close for over ten years with employees still there and no one said anything, also, other people were doing the same thing. Guess it depends on the ski area.

Good luck and be safe, those kids will be bada** skiers when they get older.
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Re: suggestions for spring ski routes with 6 and 10 year old

Post by Erik2 » Thu Apr 28, 2016 8:07 pm

Thanks everyone! I really appreciate the replies. Great ideas across the board - and good call re: making sure to fully factor in the effort to carry all the gear uphill. I have fantasies that at least the 10 year old will be able to help, but the reality is that I'll probably serve as pack mule for much of it... So I think the short hikes several suggested to a summit or higher point with a relatively short ski back to the car is a great call - I hadn't thought about the route higher up on Trail Ridge, but can picture it and think that's a great one to start with, especially if the younger guy is with us.

In any event, thanks again for the suggestions!
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Re: suggestions for spring ski routes with 6 and 10 year old

Post by Erik2 » Thu Apr 28, 2016 8:29 pm

Quick follow-up as an extension of the conversation between Alexey and Brett (I know I'm being lazy and could check the resort websites, but figure some of you may know off the top of your head): Do any resorts allow uphill access after they close for the season? I'm betting not, but if any happen to allow it that's a good idea for a low risk way to see how kids do.

and Alexey, good question about the kids climbing up. We actually just got lucky the day we went up from Berthoud, and the track to the north side of the main slope was so packed from previous skiers that we could walk it without snowshoes (or at least they could - the old guy who was about 125 pounds heavier wished he'd brought some snowshoes or full AT gear, but it was at least doable that day).
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Re: suggestions for spring ski routes with 6 and 10 year old

Post by Double Oh Seven » Thu Apr 28, 2016 9:56 pm

Do any resorts allow uphill access after they close for the season? I'm betting not, but if any happen to allow it that's a good idea for a low risk way to see how kids do.
Loveland normally does. Last year we had good runs on Memorial Day. They closed uphilll access around June 1 I think.
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