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Colorado: A spring hike on twin 14ers

Kim Fenske hikes Shavano and Tabeguache

Kim Fenske on the summit of 14,155-foot Tabeguache Peak, with Shavano in the background.

The summit of Tabeguache Peak from the saddle to Mount Shavano.

Story and photos by Kim Fenske

Rising from the lowlands west of Salida, a giant mountain marks the path to Monarch Pass. This cornerstone of the lower Arkansas River Valley is Mount Shavano, 14,229 feet, southernmost peak of the Sawatch Range.

Mount Shavano is named after a great leader of the Tabeguache band of the Utes. Across a saddle from Mount Shavano rises the dramatic summit of Tabeguache Peak, 14,155 feet, protected by a wide ring of boulders and broken cliffs. Continue reading

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Colorado: Snowy tracks on Mt. Yale

A winter hike in the Sawatch Range

The view southwest from Mount Yale.

Story and photos by Kim Fenske

In winter, tracks in the snow tell a clear story on hiking trails. After a snowstorm, the trail is nonexistent. As days of clear, sunny weather go by, a road of footprints, ski, and snowshoe tracks form a road on the most popular trails. Continue reading

Colorado: Exploring Mt. Massive

High in the Sawatch Range with Kim Fenske

A ptarmigan in winter plumage along the Mt. Massive trail.

Story and photos by Kim Fenske

Mount Massive dominates the skyline west of Leadville in Lake County, Colorado. The 14-mile hike up Mount Massive is considered a fairly easy trail during the short summer season, with a well-traveled path to the ridgeline. The standard route begins at a trailhead near Halfmoon Campground in the valley between Mount Massive, 14,421 feet, and the highest peak in Colorado, 14,433-foot Mount Elbert.

The winter trek can be a couple of miles longer when access may be restricted on the Forest Service road leading to the base of the mountain. When the road to Halfmoon Campground is completely blocked by snow, the National Fish Hatchery at the northern base of Mount Massive provides a longer access route along the Colorado Trail. Continue reading

Weatherblog: Ready for some more snow?

Winter weather advisory, 4 to 7 inches of snow possible Sunday night and Monday.

Cooler temps, gusty winds expected

By Summit Voice

SUMMIT COUNTY — In a pattern reminiscent of last winter’s sustained La Niña, the northern mountains should get clipped by a fast-moving storm that could drop between 4 and 7 inches of snow at elevations above 8,500 feet.

West-facing slopes will be favored by orographic conditions — as the moist flow out of the west is pushed up over the mountains, the moisture will be squeezed out west and along the Continental Divide.

A winter advisory is in effect from 12 p.m. Sunday through 3 p.m. Monday, with snowfall developing rapidly along and behind a southward-moving front, with Park, Gore and Elk Ranges singled out for significant accumulations of about 6 inches by early Monday afternoon. Continue reading

Morning photo: Autumn light

Magical season

An autumn storm at Guanella Pass, Colorado.

SUMMIT COUNTY — Looking back through the Summit Voice photo archives, it’s clear that, even as the vivid hues of summer give way to more austere autumn tones (notwithstanding the brilliance of aspens), something magical happens with the light. The sun doesn’t climb quite as high into the sky, so there are more hours of the day when you can shoot landscapes with a low-angle sun. Details pop, without losing saturation and long shadows add drama. Continue reading

Colorado: More avalanches likely in the backcountry

A big wet snow avalanche in Tenmile Canyon, between Frisco and Copper Mountain. Avalanche forecasters say a sustained spell of warm weather will likely trigger another cycle of slides, some of which could be large and destructive.

CAIC reports widespread snow slide activity during the past few days

By Bob Berwyn

SUMMIT COUNTY — In addition to the May 21 avalanche death on Torreys Peak, several other people were caught in late season slides last weekend, as backcountry enthusiasts took to the hills to enjoy late-season powder.

More snow and rapidly changing weather conditions during the next few days are likely to result in more backcountry avalanches, according to a May 23 update from the Colorado Avalanche Information Center. The CAIC is not forecasting specific avalanche hazard levels anymore, but is updating general backcountry snow and weather conditions through the end of May.

According to the CAIC, two riders were injured slightly in separate incidents on Berthoud Pass  when small avalanches swept them over cliff bands. The avalanche center received reports of many more triggered and natural slides from Arapahoe Basin up along the Front Range to Berthoud Pass, as far north as the Steamboat area. Widespread avalanches were also reported from the Sawatch Range, but observers said the activity tapered off from Tenmile Canyon (along I-70) westward. Continue reading

Weatherblog: Powder, avy concerns in the high country

Wilderness Sports sponsors the Summit Voice weatherblog. Click to visit Wilderness Sports online.


A blob of blue shows Saturday's storm right over the Colorado mountains.

Snow to end Saturday night, chilly overnight lows expected

By Summit Voice

SUMMIT COUNTY — More widespread snow and high winds reported across the high country Saturday morning, as an energetic wave of moisture is pushed through the area by a strong jet stream. Heavy snow started falling overnight, with Breckenridge, Keystone and Copper Mountain all reporting 7 inches of new snow in their 6 a.m. snow reports. A-Basin reported 4 inches, with 6 inches and Crested Butte, 5 inches at Loveland, 3 inches at Monarch Mountain and 8 inches at Sol Vista — the first time I can remember seeing that area report the highest total for the day. Continue reading

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