Thursday, January 11, 2007

What I Love About Colorado

The Third Flatiron above Boulder, Colorado, has been streaked, climbed in moonlight, climbed in roller skates, and now it has been skied. Well, sort of. Stefan Griebel and Bill Wright are two of the most active "Satan's Minions" featured in the most recent Climbing magazine for their early-morning scrambling outings in the Flatirons. With all the snow we've been having locally (three major storms in two weeks, and a fourth hitting now), the Flatirons are loaded with more powder snow than we've seen in decades. Recently, Wright got the idea to ski the 1911 Gully, a huge gash on the left side of the Third Flatiron (just out of sight on the far left of the formation in this picture). Only one problem:
The 1911 gully is bottomless and topless. In order to ski the gully before work on Wednesday this week, they first had to hike nearly to the top of the Third, climb a 5.2 route, do two long rappels into the gully, and then rappel out of the bottom when they were done, all this for a couple of hundred feet of mediocre skiing. "I’d love to say that the skiing was exquisite," Wright wrote on his web site. "It wasn’t, but it was...a really fun, totally ridiculous outing."

It's just that ridiculousness that makes me love Colorado. Anyone who lives here has easy access to some of the best skiing and climbing in North America, and yet some people still can't get enough, so they dream up stunts like this. You can read all about it and see more photos at Wright's web site. That's Wright jumping in for first turns in the photo above.

Speaking of epic skiing, all these storms have helped Chris Davenport and friends tick his 50th and 51st (out of 54) ski descents of Colorado 14'ers, Little Bear and Crestone Needle in the Sangre de Cristo Range. Little Bear was looking a little bony, to say the least, and one of the skiers took a scary, brusing tumble, but they all made it out OK. Aiming to be the second person ever to ski all the 14'ers from their summits, Davenport originally set the goal of completing them in a season (January-June 2006), then in all of 2006, and now he'd like to complete them all in a single year, which gives him less than two weeks to complete Blanca, Longs, and Shavano. All three are usually skied in the spring, when there's more snow, but there is a big storm under way right now, so who knows? He might just pull it off.

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