It has been unusual for me to go on the mountain on a sunny day, but Thursday paid off – and I paid for it. Since parts of Highland Bowl were closed for a day or two, I figured there was pow to be had. As I climbed to the summit, I noticed a group of 25 or so skiers and snowboarders milling about the top. Within minutes they were whooping it up after ski patrol allowed them into the coveted North Woods area.About 200 yards from the top, I noticed a propane grill looking out of place in a somewhat protected area. I suppose it’s for the Party on the Peak, when the Highlands ski patrol grills it up, from 11:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday.This was a much more pleasant hiking experience than last Friday’s 15-minute walk to Snowmass’ Hanging Valley Wall. During a whiteout with 40-mph winds, I actually got lost only 30 feet from the entry gate. I eventually made my way down Roberto’s using the Braille method.After I finished the exhilarating 40-minute stroll (climb) to the top of the bowl, I traversed the ridgeline toward the first trees. The snow became softer and deeper. The depths were approaching my knees, and the pitch was pushing 45 degrees. Once again, the bowl was worth the hike. But there was a price. You should not have trouble recognizing me on the slopes. I’m the one with the face as red as a lobster, having passed on the sunscreen before Thursday’s outing.Avalanche reportThe backcountry avalanche danger in the Roaring Fork Valley is moderate with pockets of considerable on wind-loaded areas near and above treeline. Below treeline the danger is moderate.Winds have been out of the S and SW during the last storm, so expect loading to have occurred on most E-N-NW slopes and gullies. New snow transported by the wind has formed some shallow and tender slabs with some cracking observed in this layer.Avalanche danger details provided by the Roaring Fork Avalanche Center. For more information, visit http://www.rfavalanche.org. For conditions around the state, call the Colorado Avalanche Information Center at 920-1664 or visit geosurvey.state.co.us/avalanche.
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Friends of Colorado Avalanche Information Center has contributed to the state’s avalanche center for several years to help with forecasting for backcountry visitors. It cannot hold in-person fundraisers this year so its asking supporters to sign up for an annual membership.