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Morning photo: Avalanche control at Breckenridge

The wind giveth and the wind taketh away …

Wind-transported snow can be a magical dream or a nightmare.

Story and photos by Matt Krane

*For more info on avalanches, snow science and avalanche safety, attend one of the upcoming public Breckenridge Ski Patrol info sessions, the third Thursday of each month (Feb. 16, March 15, and April 19) at the Ten Mile Room in The Village at Breckenridge.

SUMMIT COUNTY — One of the most superb skiing experiences at Breckenridge has always been the velvety flat, steep ‘windblown’ surface that often develops during post-storm wind cycles. It’s developing right now in Horseshoe Bowl, but to put things in perspective, less than a week ago the T-bar was not yet open to the public.

A fracture line is visible on classic convex avalanche from lower Peak 7 terrain, groomed snow in foreground.

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Morning photo: Colorado road trip

Apple blossoms, bluegrass and honeybees on the West Slope

When Crested Butte alumni get together at Appleshine Farm for the 'Blossom Party', you're gonna find a plethora of Eurovans, the occasional 'Motor-coach (careful! keep the kids away from the parking brake!), and Saab wagon...not to mention the odd late-50's Ford pick-up.

Story and photos by Matt Krane

SUMMIT COUNTY —Three hours from Breckenridge, a good bit of it in 75 MPH Interstate zones (90 doesn’t feel so fast, there), is a land full of apple blossoms, greening cottonwoods, temperatures in the low eighties, and SO MUCH oxygen, you can get dizzy.

In barely more than 24 hours, I’d transported myself to what felt like the tropics. Cottonwoods were getting past the leafing-out stage, every bunch of apple blossoms had honey bees doing their dance. The thick aspen forests atop the Grand Mesa were budding-they will not be far behind. I had the pleasure of reconnecting with old friends from the Roaring Fork Valley, and all kinds of new ones from Crested Butte, among them some fine musicians. Knowing many of the same songs, I had no problem slithering in as a sideman/vocalist/soloist on the ’36 National ‘Resophponic’. In fact, within hours, I became known, not so much as M. Krane, but as ‘the Resonator.’ Thanks to Cresson and Marion, kids and dogs of all shapes and sizes, and new friends. Until the fall. Continue reading

Morning photo: First sunny day in April

Brilliant Breckenridge backcountry

Amy Z. lappin' up Little Baldy Bowl.

Story and photos by Matt Krane

Elapsed skinning time to Little Baldy Summit— 1:25 for me, anyhow. Autopilot boot-top winter snow turns two thirds of the way down. Blew past a skier and two boarders building a big kicker. I was listening to a 1974 Grateful Dead show, ‘Big Railroad Blues’ at the time, definitely in a groove. They were definitely caught off guard. If I hadn’t been fiddling with my large camera so much on the way up, Leslie Ross and Amy would not have caught up to me on the pitch. A great surprise to find good friends to share some rarified air, long-needed sun, and some great vertical. if Father Dyer Peak wasn’t in the way, I think I might’ve been able to see the house i grew up in back in Los Angeles.” If you’re on the Summit Voice home page, there’s more, after the break … Continue reading

Morning photo: Spring snow!

March (snow) madness

Matt Krane's pooch, Warren, proudly wears a sprinking of graupel (rime-coated snowflakes) that heralded the start of our big March snow storm. PHOTO BY MATT KRANE.

SUMMIT COUNTY — The morning photoblog includes several images by Matt Krane who was clearly enjoying the big spring snowstorm that brought stellar powder skiing and will help boost the snow pack for the all-important April 1 survey. If you have some seasonal shots that you’d like to share with Summit Voice readers, send them in to bberwyn(at)summitvoice.com or post them to the Summit Voice Frisco Flickr group (they don’t have to be taken directly in Frisco, it’s just to show that the group is centered around Frisco). Establishing an active Frisco Flickr group will help Summit Voice establish a stronger online social media presence — a good thing for independent journalism in Colorado. Contact me at the above e-mail of you have questions. Meanwhile, enjoy the rest of our March Madness powder shots! Continue reading

Morning photo: SoCal!

Change of pace …

Imagine our surprise, first off, that the air was so clean in the Los Angeles Basin that you could touch Catalina Island, and second, that our free upgrade from Budget stepped us up to this 12-cylinder red rocket! There's one in every other Malibu carport. (we wish... we actually drove my mother's '97 Camry)

SUMMIT COUNTY — For a little relief from the Summit County scenics, Breckenridge ski patroller, photographer and fishing guide Matt Krane shared a few pictures from a recent visit to California, with images of some notable buildings reflecting his passion for architectural photography. Contact Krane via email at mattkranephoto@hotmail.com. Continue reading

Krane: Breck ski area to expand backcountry access

Matt Krane.

* Editor’s note: Breckenridge ski patroller Matt Krane is contributing occasional posts describing life at Breckenridge ski area from the perspective of a patroller. In this latest installment, Krane talks about what it took to get the mountain open after big December snows, as well as plans for expanded backcountry access.

By Matt Krane

I was planning to write a bit more frequently than once a month, but when the the snow came so fast and furious, we all on the Breckenridge Pro Patrol found ourselves opening up the entire mountain, and I mean WALL-TO-WALL, by Christmas Day, pulling extra duty and hours in the process. It’s not often that we see abundant snowfalls during such warm, moist Pacific fronts, but this is the Christmas present that La Niña has gifted us with. It is literally dumbfounding to look up at the vast above-treeline expanse that is Whale’s Tail/Peak 7 terrain and see none of dirt ridges and rockfields that define much of the terrain up there. To ski through these pitches in superb north-facing dry Colorado powder (the Tail, George’s Thumb) and not see anything but snow for your next twenty turns is equally impressive.

A happy Breckenridge ski patroller with a five pound air-blast charge preparing for an avalanche control route.

Because a heavier, warmer snowpack is not our norm, the patrol and our ever-vigilant snow safety department and avalanche technicians spent countless hours and hundreds of pounds of high explosives on successive days to open upper Peak 7 by the week after Thanksgiving. A temperamental mountain with a storied history, Peak 7 has been skiing absolutely superbly top-to-bottom. more than a few multi-charge ‘airblasts’ were utilized to help confirm the mountain’s great shape before opening. Many townsfolk commented on the number of blasts they were hearing, not to mention the inward flexing of their windows, and the occasional piddling of their canines … indoors. Continue reading

Skiing: Breckenridge patroller Matt Krane shares his views

When he's not patrolling, Matt Krane can be found chasing fat fish in waters far and near.

Editor’s note: Breckenridge ski patrol veteran Matt Krane has agreed to write some semi-regular posts with updates from the mountain and some thoughts on the daily the life of a ski patroller. I’m hoping he may even be willing to answer questions from readers, so feel free to post any questions in the comment area or e-mail them to bberwyn@comcast.net.

By Matt Krane

The tremendous amount of snow which the Breckenridge Ski Area has received since late October has staff mountain-wide very busy with the largest Thanksgiving week opening possibly in history.

Just two weeks ago during Ski Patrol’s four-day fall orientation, we were climbing lift towers in shirtsleeves. Opening day was a powder day with hike-to skiing in the Front Bowl. We opened the T-bar less than a week later on a sunny day after 20 inches was measured on our upper snow stake. The base was truly amazing; those 20 inches skied like 30 inches; every other turn in the Bowl was a ‘cougher’, and there were hundreds of smiling faces, incredulous that so much incredible skiing had been opened so quickly. The accolades and thank-yous we received in line, in the huts, on the hill, myself — working on ropes on the T-bar line — were a great boost to morale.

A Breckenridge ski patroller assembles five-pound explosive charges in preparation for avalanche control work. ALL PHOTOS BY MATT KRANE.

So much work goes into a big, early opening like this, not the least of which is avalanche control work, which then begets rope work, sign deployment, and more rope work. Continue reading

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