Shelter in place at RMP
When the National Guard showed up at the Mountain Lodge hotel where I work as the last guests were streaming out in a semi-panic, I knew that it was over. My boss was just waiting for word from the GM to send us all home. Those that lived outside San Miguel county were not going to be allowed back. Nintey percent of the work force lives outside the county as it’s almost impossible to afford to live in the Telluride area, so there was no staff available anyway to stay open.
I was done anyway. My laughably small hourly wage coupled with an hour commute each way was barely keeping the lights on. I did it to ski Telluride and Bear Creek. That was over. Fuck it.
Our GM gave us four days paid and informed us that it was mandatory to use out our PTO and we’ll talk to you in two weeks. Mighty white of him and his overpaid executive staff. I won’t be back.
I’ve been chasing the sun around Red Mountain Pass on my days off during our abbreviated ski season. After January, the snowfall here had tapered off to light dumps and mostly warmer and calm weather. The snowpack on the north/northeast and west aspects had remained fairly deep and strong, allowing for mainly low to moderate avi danger for the last couple months at all elevations. Not good for the drought and deep pow skiing. It made for prime conditions to explore into the high realms of Black Bear pass and surrounding zones at Red Mountain Pass.
It’s an amazing place, huge and empty. Silent and beautiful, I’m apt to ski across animal tracks rather than other ski ones. The east side of 550 at the pass is dominated by the cushy RMP lodge and the schvedel tracks of the guided high dollar low angle tourers with some tracks pushing into the higher areas. The west side is lawless and open to whatever you have the energy imagination and guts to try.
It’s a simple ski life. Make good decisions, read the terrain and snow pack correctly and you will thrive. Make the wrong decision on the wrong day on the wrong aspect and you are going to get aced out by the huge terrain and massive amounts of moving snow in it.
With Covid-19 shutting down all mechanized skiing and group human contact, my focus shifts back to RMP. I’m laid off, can’t travel anywhere, so time to tour and file for unemployment.
A spring storm has just moved through so I’m writing this in Ridgway waiting for the avalanche danger to decrease to get back at it. I won’t tempt it in considerable danger. Moderate allows for cautious poking around. Low allows for green light high touring.
The simplicity of touring is accentuated during the times of complex human caused problems. No crowds, no moguls, no heli drama or money based goods getting. A couple pieces of gear and sweat equity and you are limitless in what you can accomplish. It really is as pure as skiing can get and the best example of social distance. Who decided skiing was to be a real estate based greed fest anyway?
I will shelter in place at RMP. Anyone interested it touring can hit me up at email@example.com.