Backcountry Skiing in the West Elks – Colorado

I may have moved to Wyoming, but I still have a lot of ties back in Colorado; ties to friends and also ties to the mountains.  I am especially fond of the West Elks and particularly the Ragged Mountains, a sub range of the Elk Mountains.  The Elks are the same mountains that surround the popular ski town of Aspen, Colorado, but the West Elks are much less traveled.

It was in the West Elks where I went backpacking solo for the first time and also where I fell in love with backcountry skiing.  The tiny town of Marble is an incredible place; buried in the mountains and bordering wilderness areas on three sides, the scenery around this town with population of less than 100 will likely never change.  Also, the quarry that supplied marble for the columns of the Tomb of the Unknown Soldiers and the pillars of the Lincoln Memorial came from this secluded corner of the Rocky Mountains.

Last weekend, a couple for friends and I drove up the road to the quarry to access some of the best backcountry skiing terrain I’ve ever explored.  Powder hunting was my primary objective, but I did stick my small Canon mirrorless camera in my backpack to snap a few shots along the way…

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Mika the husky surveys the scenery as Lee pauses just before topping out on our goal for the day.

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It is hard to get a good look at your line below with cornices blocking the view.  Still, the more distant views aren’t anything to complain about!

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Cornices?  What cornices?  Mika isn’t concerned about approaching the edge and getting a better view!

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It’s a long and steep trip up from the valley floor.  The only way to get to the top is by putting one foot in front of the other; Jason is busy doing so in fine style as he nears the last pitch of uphill.

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Lee drops in along a steep ridge while Mount Justice looms in the distance.

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Lower in the bowl and out of the steepest terrain, Lee lets loose and makes big and fast turns down the mountain.

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After Lee enjoyed his run down the mountain, Jason dropped in and enjoyed the untracked powder snow.

I absolutely enjoy Wyoming, but to be plain and simple, I miss this special place…

 

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Categories: Nature, Skiing | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

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One thought on “Backcountry Skiing in the West Elks – Colorado

  1. Priscilla

    Hi there Joshua, I just found your blog while searching for information regarding backcountry skiing near the West Elks. I moved to Paonia for the winter and am curious if you have any knowledge for me on some lower risk locations in the area. I have been exploring some, but want to know if there are known places such as Huntsmen’s Ridge etc. Thank you!

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