|Page Type:||Trip Report|
|Lat/Lon:||39.93567°N / 105.6822°W|
|Date Climbed/Hiked:||Feb 7, 2015|
ROUTE 1: Eldora ski resort to Fraser
Updated route description:
Ski traverse from Eldora ski resort to Rollins pass to Winter Park (Fraser). I have now mapped out a distance of 16 miles, 3150’ gain and 3710’ loss of elevation. It took more than 12 hours.
This passage is a locals' favorite and finds use by those training for the Crested Butte to Aspen race (which is at least 2x the distance, so traverse over and back again for the full effect).
The safest route (minimal avalanche danger) is to follow:the Jenny Creek trail starting from the Nordic center at Eldora ski resort (i started at 5:45 am at 9,315'); to Guinn mountain (arrived at the Arestua hut at11,000’ at 8:30am); to the high road above the old railroad (the steepest section at the start of the ascent of Hell hill is 25 degrees - considered borderline for avalanche risk - the snow is however usually swept thin by the wind); then the auto route over Rollins pass(typically wind scoured, expect to pack your skis for ~1 mile, do not follow the older lower road/former railroad route, i arrived at Rollins pass at 11:30 at 11,809'); to the Middle Fork of Ranch creek (i arrived at 1:30pm, the drop point is often packed by snowmobile traffic leading one way down the valley,the steepest section of the Middle Fork valley is 27 degrees which may be bypassed by taking an established switchback); to the Denver Water Board road(arrived at 4 pm); to the trails at Idlewild to Fraser (arrived at 5:45 pm at 8,986' - follow the often tracked Burnout loop to the South Fork trail for quickest travel).
One variation is to traverse and ski down the Middle Fork valley but go left along the Denver Water Board road, then bushwack to ski down into town from above (using the land from the former ski resort). This involves some ascent along the well traveled by snowmobiles Water board road.
Descending Buck creek at the Riflesight Notch and Trestle (rather than the Middle Fork valley) is a faster route down, that leads across fromWinter park ski resort. Or follow the longer but safer snowmobile packed Corona Pass road, which should go quickly on Nordic skis.
The King lake valley might also be used to access Rollins pass (is a fast descent on skis, if you are headed back this way). Heart lakeand Rogers pass might be used to traverse to Winter park by the Jim creek valley (much greater risk of avalanche).
Trip report for Sat 2016/3/19:
We found it snowing driving up Coal Creek canyon into Eldora. Eldora reported 3'' of snow for Sat 3/19, with 12'' from Thurs 3/17-Fri 3/18. The wind forecast was increased the morning of Sat 3/19 (with the jetstream lingering longer in CO than predicted in previous days). Looking back, the morning of weather forecast for James peak (windchill of 0°F) was true to the trip.
Because of the recent snow in 2016, we did find nearly continuous snow coverage through the entire route (which is unusual on the highroad near Rollins pass). I appreciated having my AT skis (greater flotation)with the big dump of fresh snow. In my opinion, however, this traverse is well suited to Nordic skis (with wax) or Tele skis (also bring wax), as it is easy to bypass the short steep downhill section (27 degree incline) in the MiddleFork valley - just take the switchback. There is typically enough one-way snowmobile traffic down the Middle Fork valley to pave a path to follow through the snow. I would expect you can probably save at least an hour of time through the trip by picking Nordic or Tele skis.
It's a good idea to make sure you have the stuff to coverall exposed skin on this trip, including balaclava, buff, and ski googles (make sure it fits your helmet and covers your face). That is no bullshit suggestion either - i got frostbite (blisters) where the wind got through to my belly because my jacket rides too high when i put my camera under my jacket to keep the batteries going. In particular the ~3.5 mile section between Guinn mountain and the drop into Middle Fork of Ranch creek usually features strong wind. Typically the ~1 mile stretch of high road above Rollins pass is wind scoured. Indian peaks is notorious for wind!
We drove up to leave Emily's car at the Trailhead inn inWinter Park. That way we could stay at the hotel Saturday night and drive back Sun morning directly from the hotel. Randi's Pub is right across the road from Trailhead inn, for food. A better spot to stay would have been the Vasquez Creek inn,because the road from the trail from the old Idlewild ski resort comes outright across from there.
We left home in Arvada at 5 am to get started from Eldora at 6:25. We reached Jenny creek (after the downhill) at 7:35; the tree tunnel (JC10)at 8:11; the ruins of the miner's cabin (JC12) at 8:57; and the Årestua hut at9:47. We took a break to rest and also attend to the cabin, leaving Årestua at 11:04. We reached Rollins pass at 1:57 and the drop point to Middle Fork of Ranch creek at 3:06. We took a break to warm up(BREAK) and left the drop point at 3:46, reaching the Denver Water Board road (MFRC12) at 5:04; Friendship drive in Winter Park at7:08; and unpacking at the Trailhead Inn hotel at 7:48. The Daylight Savings time change started the previous weekend.
My pack was 29.5 lbs starting at Eldora, including 3 liters of water.
Trip report for Sat 2015/2/07:
The snow was well tracked and packed from Eldora to Guinn mt. There are signs for the Jenny Creek trail, plus it seems like the Arestua hut gets a lot of use now. Follow the ridge from Guinn mt to Hell hill. It is typically wind scoured there - so the snow is wind slab, but pretty thin(relatively safe Avy danger). Be advised that the slope above Yankee Doodle lake has some historical nasty (and fatal) slides, if you are thinking to sneak in some turns. The road to Rollins pass was mostly wind blown, but may haves now packed from snowmobile use. West of the Divide was a thin snowmobile packed path until the hill just above Middle Fork. The area at the drop-off into Middle Fork was well packed form snowmobiles (Avy safe). (Rented)snowmobiles are discouraged from using the Middle Fork valley, so i found plenty of unpacked powder. It gets steep (equivalent to black runs at a resort)in short sections, so i was glad to have the powder to slow my Nordic skis. The untracked snow below the Water Board road seemed like walking through 2 feet of wet cement on my skis. Sinking in with every step, it wore the Glop Stopper wax off of my skins. There is sort of a path from the Middle Fork valley to the Idle wildtrails along the forest boundary.
My pack was 30.5 lbs at the start of the trip. 5 Gu's used during trip.
A little weird to get back on real food (from a diet of sports gels and candy bars all day to keep going) back in Fraser. It gave me the hiccups!