Hoosier Wave

Welcome to Colorado

My arrival in Colorado was not quite what Jacob and I had envisioned – winter was still very much alive. But at least my first weekend here would be sunny and we were excited to explore Jacob’s backyard in Breckenridge / Blue River.

Throughout winter, Jacob farms low angle powder in below tree line glades. With how cold it is up here, powder really has no expiration. But unfortunately, I had arrived right at that transition to spring, but before there was stability to ski most avalanche slopes. It had warmed up right before I came, crusting almost any slope safe enough to ski, then gotten cold and windy with some fresh snow.

As an outsider, I tend to bring fresh perspective on local terrain. By looking at a map, I suggested we try some tree gullies near Hoosier Pass. Being north facing and sheltered by trees, I felt like this was our only real hope of finding decent skiing and staying out of the vicious winds that were forecasted. Jacob had surprisingly never visited this spot, so he was down to give it a shot. One website listed a run called the “Hoosier Wave” in this area.

We began with the long 10 minute drive from his cabin to Hoosier Pass and started skinning east from the pass. It was absurd to me to start at 11,500 feet and I immediately felt the altitude, coming from sea level two days prior.

Jacob and a beautiful morning.

As we got above treeline, we were greeted by strong winds but also my first view of the alpine peaks around us! The effects of the winds were incredible. White clouds of blowing snow billowed from the peaks. Entire aspects were bare – just piles of rocks. I had never seen such windswept mountains.

Quandry Peak, the local 14er. Note the houses beneath it – wild!
Looking down valley to Breckenridge.

The winds intensified above treeline and we quickly saw that the ridge above Hoosier Pass was not skiable – unless you like rock skiing. We decided we had gone high enough to traverse into the north facing tree gullies we were aiming for.

Wind, sun, and snow.

As we skied down, we finally reached a roll and the wind died down. The snow suddenly transitioned from sastrugi and rocks to wonderful powder!

Jacob finds the pow!

We followed the gully through a low angle forest, occasionally bumping on crust but mostly having a good time. Jacob demonstrated the art of the Colorado wiggle, which makes the most of the low angle hippie pow.

Down at the bottom, we skinned back up and skied a few more of these north facing gullies. Each was a little different, but each provided fun and novel skiing. And it kept us mostly out of the wind, but still in the vibrant high altitude sunshine.

Jacob skiing down one of the longer gullies.

After sampling a few different lines, we returned for one last lap on the original line, the one labeled “Hooiser Wave”. This time, I “rode the wave” and Jacob played photographer.

Riding the “Hoosier Wave”.

We realized that it would be easier to exit out the drainage at the end of our run instead of traversing all the way back to Hoosier Pass. So we followed some backcountry nordic trails down to a neighborhood, where we met some nice locals who were willing to drive us back to our car.

This was a fun way to see the local terrain around Blue River / Breckenridge and the skiing was surprisingly good. It felt like getting my toes wet, hoping for bigger things to come on this trip!

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