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Backcountry ski and snowboard gear, camping


March 2001 

 

Aloft in a 757, we circled the Eagle River Valley for a few hours.  The frustrating thing was that we could see the city lights of Eagle and Gypsum, but there was a fog bank right in between (right where the airport is), preventing a safe landing.  We were diverted and ultimately landed in Albuquerque at some thing they call a "Sunport" (no kidding, click here for proof).  After one hour of sleep, and some serious negotiations with the local Sunport staffers, we managed to worm our way onto a United flight straight into Aspen via Denver.  After a scary descent and landing in unsettled weather (the Aspen airport is notoriously dangerous), we were picked up by Erin and managed to squeeze in 16,000 vertical feet of skiing at Snowmass, ending with a sweet hike up and run down Long Shot to the Two Creeks base.  The next morning, we set off for our backcountry trip to the Gates Hut between Aspen and Vail. 

 

Dana deplanes at Pitkin County Airport after an epic 24 hour journey


Rich, Erin and Steve start the climb up from the Frying Pan valley to Montgomery Flats in a serious dump.


Erin and Steve make their way through the snowy trees in Montgomery Flats.


Dana among the thin pines that populate the plateau.


After a hike up to 10,200 and then a long ski back down along Lime Creek, we finally reached the Gates Hut.  The hut is part of the 10th Mountain Trail Association, named after the ski troopers from WWII.  


We hit perfect weather on the trip.  It snowed the whole way in, which kept the sun off our backs.  It stopped snowing as we arrived, which permitted some great chill time in the sun (here on the deck) and opened up the views.  Around dinner time, it started dumping again, which set up some great powder snow for the next morning. 


Back inside the hut, we found Steve's journal entry from 1995, when he got lost trying to find the Polar Star Inn during a blizzard.  Steve's gotten lost twice on these trips.  Given his experience, he carries every item of safety gear known to man, short of an inflatable liferaft.  We like to chide him about it, but we hope we never need it.  

 

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