Vail pass to Frisco ski tour

Vail pass to Frisco ski tour

Page Type Page Type: Trip Report
Location Lat/Lon: 39.55813°N / 106.20534°W
Date Date Climbed/Hiked: Feb 12, 2017
Activities Activities: Skiing
Seasons Season: Winter

Backcountry ski tour from Vail pass to Frisco

Backcountry ski tour from Vail pass to Frisco with Chris, Emily, and Michael. Our route was to go north to the saddle west of Uneva peak (saddle 1 on map), to descend the bowl north of that saddle along the drainage down to Tenmile creek then head east to Frisco along the North Tenmile creek drainage.

We got the idea from a paragraph description of the tour we found online. That description seemed sufficient to recreate the route, which takes advantage of the North Tenmile creek to shortcut east to Frisco; whereas I-70 follows a longer U between the start and finish of the route. I consider it an average difficulty tour (9 miles distance, +1500' then -3000') that does not take a huge amount of experience. You will want at least advanced intermediate skiing ability for the downhill. It is a backcountry route, so bring along with your Avy gear along with at least 1 friend !

A friend instead tried passing over the saddle south of Uneva peak (saddle 2 on map) into the same drainage as Uneva pass. While the descent of that valley joins a summer hiking trail, it sounds like a more difficult route. The steep hill and dense trees before arriving at North Tenmile creek looked formidable from Tenmile creek.

The snow was great for the trip - the base was dense from the previous few days of warm weather, with 6-8'' of fresh powder on top. No significant whumpfing or settling along the route because of the warm weather. The powder made for a great descent to Tenmile creek. The descent on that bowl would probably be rated blue-black at resorts. The bowl is wide (making it easier), the other group we met that morning took a visibly steeper descent 2 highpoints NW from the saddle. There was good snow coverage with no waterfalls along the drainage below the bowl. The only hazards were located near the bottom (open holes to the stream and fallen trees). It was a pleasant (even relaxing) descent, with some tree skiing only at the bottom to avoid hazards on the stream. It was overcast through the day, and warmer in the Tenmile valley. We had to be careful not to have snow stick to skis or skins then in the Tenmile valley. At least the first half of the valley can be skied without skins, if you stay to the skier's left of the creek.

We got up in Frisco at 4:30 am, left the hotel at 5:45, left the Vail pass parking lot at 6:45, got to the saddle at 10 am, started down at 10:40, reached Tenmile creek at 11:30, and reached the Frisco lot at 1:30 pm. Total of 6 3/4 hours for an average CO pace, including nice breaks at the pass and Tenmile creek.

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